A Caribbean spectacular, an OVO reprise and seven other things to see, hear and do in Toronto this week
A Caribbean spectacular
1The city’s month-long explosion of sequins, soca and sunshine culminates on August 3 in a newly expanded Grand Parade that will make an eight-kilometre loop along Lakeshore—twice the distance of previous years—and end in an epic battle of the masquerade bands at Exhibition Place. More than 200 vendors and multiple beer gardens will fuel parade-goers. And if all that doesn’t provide enough spectacle, the Real Housewives of Atlanta are rumoured to be making an appearance. Saturday, August 3. Weekend passes $50–$200. Lakeshore Boulevard.
An OVO reprise
2Drake took a brief pause from the city’s beloved OVO Fest last year, but the epic Raptors win has him in a good mood. At last month’s 2-million strong victory parade, he announced the festival’s bigger and better return this summer. Whether that means he’ll fly in on his $200-million plane or bring along some NBA pals is TBD, but for now, he’s announced a lineup that includes B2K, Ying Yang Twins, Lloyd, Mario Pretty Ricky and of course, the 6 God himself. This year also brings OVO Bounce, an NBA star-studded afterparty that doubles as a basketball tournament, and the OVO Summit, which brings together like-minded creatives, athletes, and entrepreneurs for the ultimate schmooze fest. Sunday, August 4 and Monday, August 5. $185–$2,500. Budweiser Stage.
Divas and divos on the rise
3This summer program for young singers stages energetic amateur performances that offer a chance to see opera’s next Brueggergosmans and Brauns. Coaching and rehearsals begin in June, leading up to performances in late July and early August. Sets are minimal, costumes are basic and the orchestra consists of a lone piano, but what the productions lack in polish they make up for in chutzpah. This season’s best bet is a double bill of 20th-century one-acters: Ralph Vaughan Williams’s moody melodrama Riders to the Sea and Puccini’s lyrical, hijinks-filled comedy Gianni Schicchi. Until Sunday, August 4. $31.25. Robert Gill Theatre.
A food truck mania
4Enthusiastic but indecisive foodies can sample a buffet of picnic-worthy treats at Woodbine’s annual Food Truck Fest. This year, more than 40 trucks will be parked in the East Beaches, including the Food Dudes, Twisted Tomato, T Dot Naansense and Buster’s Sea Cove. Keep an eye out for meat-and-cheese-stuffed arepas and cheesecake on a stick. Friday, August 2 to Monday, August 5. Free. Woodbine Beach.
A blissed-out jam band
5Kurt Vile created his latest record, Bottle It In, during a road trip across America, with studio sessions sandwiched between tour dates and guest instrumentals contributed by friends he encountered along the way (most notably the legendary Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth). The result is Vile’s most ambitious record to date—one he half-jokingly calls his Born in the U.S.A. At its heart is “Bassackwards,” a 10-minute psychedelic meditation in which Vile’s reverse guitar and laconic voice seem to narrate a pleasant acid trip on a sunwashed beach. So ditch your baggage at the door, sit back and ride the extended jams. Thursday, August 1. Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
An Office laugh
6The Office may be leaving Netflix, but anyone missing Dunder Mifflin Paper Company can get a few more laughs in at The Office! A Musical Parody. The off-Broadway production, written by Bob and Tobly McSmith—the brains behind similar nostalgia-charged adaptations of Friends, Full House and Saved By The Bell—reunites Pam, Jim, Dwight, Angela and Michael for a twisted re-do of some of the show’s most iconic scenes. Expect three marriage proposals and a short encounter with rabies. Tuesday, July 30 to Sunday, August 25. $42–$79. CAA Theatre.
A dose of Mendelssohn light
7At just 16, Mendelssohn wrote this sprightly work as a birthday gift for his violin teacher. Originally created with a double string quartet in mind, it swaps solemnity and heaviness for the lighthearted, lucid textures that have made it one of his most loved compositions. The performance is part of the Toronto Summer Music festival—a classical reprieve in the dog days of festival season—and also highlights works by Henry Cowell and Pablo de Sarasate, plus a world premiere by the Juno-winning composer Alexina Louie. Friday, August 2. $20–$56. Walter Hall.
A Bach solo spotlight
8Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt’s interpretations of Johann Sebastian Bach are her most masterful. For her current project, the Bach Odyssey, she will play all his major keyboard pieces in 12 concerts over four years. Sadly, Toronto isn’t one of the tour’s stops, but this solo show is a good consolation prize. In it, she’ll perform just one work: Bach’s Goldberg Variations. It begins and ends with a simple aria, but those are mere bookends for 30 variations of dauntingly complex and emotionally rich arrangements in between. Tuesday, July 30. $20–$65. Koerner Hall.
Free falling with John Mayer
9John Mayer may have a reputation as a player, but he’s committed himself to a two-night stand with Toronto. For his latest tour, he’s ditched the opening act in favour of a two-set solo performance filled with nostalgic tracks, newer hits and, yes, a cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’”. If he doesn’t play your favourite sing-in-the-shower song during his first show, there’s always the option to catch the second, which has a completely different set list. Tuesday, July 30 and Wednesday, July 31. $107–$413. Scotiabank Arena.