Myss Keta at ToDays. Photography: Camilla Rocca
Much like its host city, ToDays is silent but laborious. Based in Torino, Italy, it’s a festival that gets straight to the point. Don't expect fancy lounge areas or gourmet street food stands, because it's music that matters here.
Previously nicknamed Italy's Detroit, Torino is a city that is trying to re-invent itself through culture. A process that often stops at its fancy centre, leaving the outskirts isolated. ToDays tries to invert this trend, starting with venues like former factory Incet and several parallel events ran in nearby art galleries and post-industrial scenarios. ToDays bridges the gap between independent British music and its Italian counterparts.
If anyone was worried that Italy had missed the psych revival, Inidianizer fill this gap with a jaw-dropping blend of blues and tribal afro-psych à la Goat. Indianizer are the perfect appetiser for King Gizzard – a band that have achieved worldwide cult status. This is confirmed by the multitude of people the eclectic Australian outfit brought to the festival. This cross-borders mutual sensitivity is, for sure, one of the best assets of ToDays. Even more electrifying than Mogwai's wall of sound – a last minute substitute to My Bloody Valentine. This inspirational and confrontational ground between Italian and overseas acts finds it's perfect venue in the late night shows at the former Incet factory.
Inidianizer at ToDays. Photography: Camilla Rocca
Milanese duo Coma Cose are one of the best examples of how foreign influences can be filtered via an Italian sensitivity. Their clever lyrics, full of references to ‘70s Italian troubadours and pop culture are tenderly delivered with hip-hop beats and flashes of shoegaze (check their single Post Concerto out). It’s an explosive mix that unfortunately fails to impress live as much as it does on record.
Cosmo is another example of how Italian independent music could be successfully exported, regardless of language barriers. Songwriter and producer Cosmo cut his teeth with indie music for almost a decade before turning electronic, cleverly bringing together the sensitivity and pop hooks of retro Italian pop and ‘90s provincial Northern Italy house with his solo work and label/DJ collective, Ivreatronic.
Coma Cose at ToDays. Photography: Camilla Rocca
Shortly after, Mount Kimbie take the stage. For more than one hour, the London duo deliver ethereal melodies that range from the gentle, trippy landscapes of Spiritualized to hard-hitting dub.
ToDay’s masterpiece, though, is Myss Keta’s live performance in the shade of park Peccei’s derelict concrete urban cathedral. The Gucci burqa-wearing high priestess of Italian underground tells tales of a decadent Milano as vividly as Jimothy Lacoste does with London, in a cleverly produced mix of spoken word and electro-pop. Even Italian indie veteran Colapesce is there watching in awe. On the following afternoon, the Sicilian surprises everyone with a live act that often goes afro-jazz with sax solos pointing in Sun Ra’s direction.
Myss Keta at ToDays. Photography: Camilla Rocca
The state of Italian indie is so fertile that, within a handful of months, many acts have turned so mainstream, most medium-sized festivals are no longer able to host all their fans. ToDays smartly goes off the beaten track, bringing on the main stage Generic Animal. Call it indie-pop, call it white trap, this Milanese guy has got the right balance between the two genres and manages to bring it home well, despite the crowd of black clothed Echo & The Bunnymen fans, undoubtedly waiting for something more rock.
It’s a mishmash of looks and sounds. Echo & The Bunnymen’s frontman Ian McCulloch illustrates this best by singing in latex trousers and sunglasses, despite the August humidity. He doesn’t take them off until 2am – when he’s last seen, slightly puzzled, watching Cosmo’s set.
Colapesce at ToDays. Photography: Camilla Rocca
Editors are Sunday's main act, but it's Ariel Pink sided by Germs’ Don Bolles that steal the stage and deliver the best performance at this year’s ToDays. All the ingredients that make bedroom pop so successful, from MacDemarco to Boy Pablo, are here brought on stage by a frontman so genuine, you can forgive him for how shabby and deranged he looks. The sun is going down and when Baby kicks in, you wish you were in love with whoever’s standing next to you – if only for a hug and one more pint.
From his first song, you know Ariel Pink runs the party – and, after his perfect show has ended, it’s pure joy to see him queuing at the burger stall while everyone else is too busy watching Editors to notice.
ToDays’ limited capacity is its winning asset. A festival where things happen all around you and not just on a stage.
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