Toronto Best Bets: Your Caribana weekend

Kobo Town (left); Green Velvet
Kobo Town (left); Green Velvet

As a kid, I used to go to Caribana every year with my parents. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, it was just a cool parade to go to. But apparently despite it being a huge event that attracts over a million people, Caribana is not the done thing among my fellow cracker-ass crackers in this city, which I find perplexing. We eagerly consume the Caribbean community’s food, we at least flirt with the music (it’s rare you can get away with a pop or hip-hop DJ set in this city without dropping some Sean Paul in there), but that seems to be where it ends. I say we need to get out there, and if you’re a Toronto person with an interest in music, this weekend is an embarrassment of riches, even aside from soca/dancehall and hip-hop club nights. Here’s a handy guide to events outside the usual Caribana circuit, because if you’re not going to touch di road, at least stroll along the sidewalk.

Fri, Aug 2: Kobo Town @ Harbourfront

Drew Goncalves is the don behind Kobo Town, a tight local outfit keeping the spirit of old-school calypso alive. But that’s not even the best thing about their excellent second album, Jumbie In The Jukebox. (Stream below.) Goncalves’ sharp eye for injustice is tempered only by his sense of humour; then again, is tempered the right word when it makes songs like “Postcard Poverty” sting their targets — tourists looking for the cute, exotic slums, as opposed to the everyday slums everyday people live in — even more?

The show starts at 7 with a reggae set from DJ Chocolate and CIUT host Patrick Roots. And it’s free. No excuses!

Sat, Aug 3: JETS @ Black Box or Dirty Prancing @ The Central

Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum need no introduction to techno fans, which is why I’m surprised that promoters on their show together, JETS, haven’t made more noise about who the act actually is. I didn’t know at first.

Jimmy Edgar certainly promotes the libidinous nature of his music in his song titles – I Wanna Give You An STD springs to mind – but the Princeoriffic keyboard stabs and hard-as-handcuffs drums are more like the sound of someone bragging about their swag than the soundtrack to it. His hit single says it all: “We had, what I call, Hot Raw Sex!” All that’s missing is the sound of a nudge and a wink. Machinedrum (Travis Stewart, putting the TS in JETS) is a bit more the classic techno figure, so they balance each other out quite nicely.

Their superfine FACT mix swings from quiet storm midnight luvin’ to straight up trap shit to Chicago house, which is perfect for this site. It’s like they made it just for me to post. Hey guys need an opening DJ? I have my own needles and everything. You can borrow them, I won’t mind. It’s cool.

JETS a.k.a. Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum play BLK BOX, 1087 Queen St. W.. $15 from Ticketweb.ca, Rotate This, Soundscapes.

But actually, I won’t be at Blk Box (whose sound system, incidentally, was in fine form for Kode9’s set a few weeks back). Shameless self-promotion alert: I will be spinning pop and hip-hop stuff, with a smidge of dancehall for those what know, at The Central with some friends. Tune in to find out whether we’ll actually bust through the floor this time.

Dirty Prancing feat Kristin Eff, Heather, Pier and Deemo at The Central, 603 Markham St., 10pm, Free.

Mon, Aug 5: Electric Island f Green Velvet, Soul Clap @ Toronto Island

The new Daft Punk record, entertaining as it is, just sent me running back to Homework, and 90s house. So after about a week of banging all manner of filtered hats and acid basslines, to the dismay of my neighbours, finding out Green Velvet is playing Toronto Island was like a thirsty man in the desert spying a fountain over the next dune. If you never experienced the synapse-frying intensity of “Preacherman” or “Destination Unknown” on a dance floor back in the day, you will probably love them anyways – almost none of Velvet’s peers’ music has aged as well as his, even as the spoken intro and preacher sample have become part of dance’s DNA. He recently released a two-disc anthology of his arguably more soulful, classic house side, Only 4 U: The Sound of Cajmere and Cajual Records, 1992-2012, so here’s hoping for a range of both ass shakers and face-melters.

P.S.: Boston duo Soul Clap are also loads of fun, as I discovered in a feverish night spent in the Michelberger Hotel while they were playing easy listening records and, later, trying to find somewhere showing the Bruins playing the Canucks in the Stanley Cup final (and taunting me for being Canadian).

Electric Island featuring Green Velvet, Hot Since 82, Soul Clap happens Mon, Aug 5 on Centre Island from 2pm-10pm. $22.50 or $28.50 with ferry ticket, available via Ticketweb.ca, Rotate This, Soundscapes.

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