The prestigious Riot Fest will not take place in Toronto this year for the first time in four years. The punk/alt-rock festival, often expected to draw crowds as big as 20,000 people at Downsview Park, is cancelled.
Unfortunately, the organizers found that Riot Fest Toronto depends highly on the help of local co-presenters. Despite Riot Fest’s adopted a punk rock image, it is, at its core, a predominantly corporate, financially driven enterprise.
Of course, music festivals are made to generate a profit. It’s just disappointing when they claim to be a so-called “festival of the people”, or to be “kicking against the pricks”, only to shaft the little guy.
Union Events, who were eventually bought out by Live Nation Entertainment in February, previously ran the festival in Toronto. However, this deal excluded Riot Fest and the Chicago founders failed to find a new local partnership in Toronto.
Bands such as Weezer, Wu-Tang Clan, Sex Pistols and Mötorhead have all graced the main stage of Riot Fest, donning the sash of “punk rock.” (Granted, the Sex Pistols deserve the mantle, shame they couldn’t play a lick.) A depressing decline of what punk rock once was and how is has been bastardized by the modern corporate stranglehold. Riot Fest began in 2012 and was never punk in its ideology. John “Johny Rotten” Lydon selling butter demonstrates that better than any blog post.
Since January 2016, the Canadian dollar has fallen by more than 30% against the U.S. dollar and continues its decline. On May 9 of this year Riot Fest was cancelled in Toronto. When oil prices steadily declined, the fate of Canadian currency was a foregone conclusion.
It’s no wonder then, to see that its U.S. parent company has pulled out of the punk rock festival, deeply rooted in its supposed origins of “fighting the power,” in order to maintain its gross profits. Such a shame.