A nostalgic night with Weezer and the Pixies, a high-stakes air guitar showdown and five other things to see, do and hear in Toronto this week
A festival of risk and failure
1Part culture exhibition, part motivational pep rally, Harbourfront’s Brave festival challenges artists, writers, and musicians to be fearless, defiant and think as far outside the box as they can. This year’s headliners include: iconic provocateur John Waters on his notorious career as a director; Canadian musician Bif Naked on surviving addiction, abuse and cancer; and Bassem Youssef (known as the “Jon Stewart of Egypt”) on how the Arab Spring foreshadowed Trump. Thursday, July 12 to Sunday, July 29. Various prices. Harbourfront Centre.
A nostalgic night with alt-rock royalty
2Melancholy meets nostalgia on the Weezer/Pixies tour: on the one hand, the Pixies still have a hole at their core where former bassist and vocalist Kim Deal once stood, and there’s no getting around Weezer’s rockier 2000s releases (their cover of Toto’s “Africa” notwithstanding). On the other hand, it will be a wistful thrill to see two definitive alt-rock staples on the same bill—a night of living music history, with one band that practically birthed the other. Saturday, July 14. $76–$291. Budweiser Stage.
A musical tour through the 27 Club
3Music icons Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain are all members of the same unlucky fellowship: the 27 Club. In this upcoming show, Soulpepper’s Mike Ross leads an ensemble of talented musicians who will play highlights from the musical catalogues of Winehouse, Cobain and other artists whose lives ended tragically at 27. The performance promises to be as much a celebration as a requiem. Saturday, July 14 to Saturday, July 28. $35–$75. Young Centre for the Performing Arts.
A high-stakes air guitar showdown
4Most people know it takes a combination of talent, passion, heart and stamina to be a great musician, but not as many people know that it takes all those things (and more) to be a great air guitarist. At the annual Air Guitar Canada National Championships, the truly great fake strummers are separated from the mere bathroom-mirror dilettantes in a showdown to be the real guitar hero. The rules are pretty straightforward: the air guitarist’s instrument can be electric or acoustic as long as it’s invisible (i.e., air). Saturday, July 14. $17. Mod Club.
A high-energy Foo Fighters concert
5At age 49—a full quarter century into his run as lead vocalist and guitarist of Foo Fighters—Dave Grohl can still put most frenetic stadium-rock extravaganzas to shame. Foo Fighters shows get their intensity from the high-energy frontman, but everyone in the band gets their moment to shine (in past shows, they’ve covered songs by Alice Cooper, David Bowie and John Legend). Thursday, July 12. $89–$386. Rogers Centre.
An art exhibit where physical and digital collide
6Showcasing independent gaming and new media, the Vector Festival takes a participatory approach to art. This year’s opening exhibition (“Born Digital”) combines video, kinetic sculptures and social media experiments to explore how the digital realm mediates our lives. Later, digital and performance art come together in “Inner Workings,” and a screening of Words Before All Else asks: What happens to oral histories in the digital age? Thursday, July 12 to Monday, July 16. Single tickets $15, festival pass $30. InterAccess.
Art and war at Toronto’s classical music festival
7This year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival commemorates 100 years since the end of World War I by showcasing music created during times of conflict. Some of the highlights include: an opening night performance by the world-renowned Escher String Quartet, a tribute to Gospel Music by legendary tenor Ben Heppner, and an homage to one of the world’s greatest violinists, Yehudi Menuhin. Thursday, July 12 to Saturday, August 4. $20–$90. Various venues.