The return of the CNE, a high-octane Pink concert and seven other things to see, hear, read and do in Toronto this week
A fair to remember
1The CNE celebrates 140 years of funnel-caked, Tilt-A-Whirling fun this month. The carnival rides and food vendors with virtuosic deep-frying skills are back, along with a few firsts: Hippie Fest, a tribute concert to mark Woodstock’s 50th anniversary (Janice Joplin, CCR and Carlos Santana all get cover treatments); an American Ninja Warrior–inspired obstacle course; and the most Toronto of art installations—12 massive fibreglass raccoon sculptures to send up the city’s love-hate relationship with its unofficial mascots. Friday, August 16 to Monday, September 2. $16–$60. Exhibition Place.
Something to mosh about
2Nearly 20 years after a messy breakup, the Smashing Pumpkins are back on tour, albeit without bassist D’arcy Wretzky, whose ire toward frontman Billy Corgan is the stuff of grunge-pop legend. Supporting the Pumpkins is Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, fronted by the Oasis singer-guitarist who knows something about intraband hostility, too. (The latest in the Gallagher brothers’ feud: Liam has taken to publicly calling Noel a potato.) Both acts have said they plan to rise above it all, so fans can skip the drama and soak up the purer angst of the 1990s, when the greatest thing to rage about was being still just a rat in a cage. Tuesday, August 13. $69–$281. Budweiser Stage.
A Stackt party
3The two-and-a-half acre lot at Bathurst and Front sat vacant for years before the City finally turned it into a shipping container market. Since it opened last spring, the space has hosted movie screenings, flower-arranging seminars, and now it will be the backdrop for Wavelength Summer Music and Arts Festival. The weekend-long lineup includes a mishmash of performers, including comedians, rappers, rockers and rollers (like Milk & Bone, Cadence Weapon and Natalie Norman), plus installations like a communal paint-by-numbers mural. Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August 18. $25–$60. Stackt Market.
A dystopian teen drama
4Margaret Atwood fans awaiting her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale now have the perfect dystopian novel to tide them over. Fellow Ontario writer Lori Lansens’ speculative fiction, This Little Light, depicts an all-too-plausible America in the year 2023. Birth control has been criminalized, police drones fill the sky and right-wing born-again Christians reign supreme. When teenage resisters Rory and her best friend Fee are accused of bombing their posh California high school’s American Virtue Ball, they’re forced to go on the lam, hounded by law enforcement in the real world and swarmed by trolls online. Told over the course of 48 hours, the story serves up a high-speed plot shot through with scathing critiques of current political movements working to undermine women’s power. Tuesday, August 13. $24.95. Penguin Random House Canada.
An after hours at MOCA
5Long before the Tower Automotive Building became the city’s home for contemporary art, it hosted wild raves and punk shows. This weekend, MOCA is throwing things back to the good old days by turning the entire first floor into a dance party. The interactive art show will have enough music videos, living sculptures and massive murals to make you feel like you’re watching an episode of Art Attack on acid. Saturday, August 17. $10–$15. MOCA.
A high-octane Pink concert
6Pink knows how to make an entrance. The last time she played the Scotiabank Arena, she swooped in from a massive jewel-draped chandelier. She’s back in Toronto touring her eighth full-length album, Hurts 2B Human, a fusion of upbeat pop riffs, stadium-shaking EDM verses and tortured-artist punk lyrics. The singer once told Ellen DeGeneres that if she were truly happy, she’d be useless. But instead of hiding under her rough-and-tough exterior, she celebrates outcasts and weirdos by shouting her hits from the rafters via a high-flying, cable-assisted acrobatics routine. Sunday, August 18 and Monday, August 19. $80–$681. Scotiabank Arena.
A chess champ memoir
7Toronto writer Sasha Chapin’s love affair with chess began in high school as a member of “the Pawnishers,” which he describes in his new memoir as an “after-school pack of sweaty teenage boys” who were more into the camaraderie than the actual game. Soon, Chapin found himself obsessed. He eventually graduated from schooling his older brother to training with a grandmaster in St. Louis, then journeying to chess’s birthplace in India and finally competing in the Los Angeles Open, one of the world’s largest public chess tournaments. In his new novel, All the Wrong Moves, he sketches incisive portraits of some of the game’s most fanatical personalities and reflects on his own fraught fixation. Tuesday, August 13. $25. Penguin Random House Canada.
A Chinatown celebration
8Astrology buffs are bound to have a good time at this year’s zodiac-themed Chinatown Festival. Now in its 19th year, the weekend-long food and culture fest is probably the only place in the city you can watch Kung Fu masters perform while eating bubble waffles and bao. Those looking to meet their ideal astrological match can partake in the scavenger hunt, which pairs compatible signs for a hide-and-seek-style race to the finish line. Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August 18. Free. Chinatown.
A dance extravaganza
9Those with two left feet can slide over and leave the dancing to the pros at this year’s series of Dance: Made in Canada shows. The biennial festival features five world premieres and eight Toronto premieres, including a theatrical breakdancing troupe (The Key to Time Travel) and a solo Czech ballet (Stream of Light / Capricho Arabe). Wednesday, August 14 to Sunday, August 18. $19–$65. Betty Oliphant Theatre.