Roxodus Joins Graveyard Of Canadian Music Fests
This week’s cancellation of the Roxodus Music Festival in Ontario with only a week to go sparked confusion and outrage.
It also delivered a blow to other music festivals across Canada already dealing with increased competition, declining revenues and access to fewer live acts. Canadian festivals also have to pay most headline acts in U.S. dollars but collect revenue in Canadian funds.
With every cancelled festival, consumers become more wary of parting with their hard-earned dollars.
Richard Flohil, a veteran of the Canadian music industry, tweeted about the Roxodus cancellation: “Whenever you see these fly-by-night ‘festivals’ offering all-star lineups of ancient rockers, do NOT send them money.”
There are, of course, plenty of established and reputable music festivals across Canada – including Area 506 in New Brunswick, Cavendish Festival in PEI, Quebec Summer Festival in Quebec, Osheaga in Montreal, Bluesfest and Boots & Hearts in Ontario, Craven Country Jamboree in Saskatchewan, and Big Valley Jamboree in Alberta.
Roxodus joins a Canadian landscape littered with music festivals that came and went. Here are just a few:
In 2017, a Toronto version of UK import Bestival was scrapped after only two years. It had featured headliners like The Cure, Tame Impala, and Florence + The Machine.
Launched in 2013, Field Trip took place every summer on the grounds of historic Fort York in downtown Toronto and welcomed acts like Robyn, The National, Interpol and Alabama Shakes. Organizers announced that the 2019 edition of the festival was cancelled – but said there are hopes it will be back in 2020.
Pemberton Music Festival
First staged in 2008, this festival near Mount Currie in Pemberton, B.C. didn’t become an annual event until 2014. It welcomed a diverse line-up of acts, including bands like Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Weezer and The Black Keys; hip-hop artists Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Snoop Dogg; and pop acts like The Chainsmokers and Halsey. In May 2017, the fourth edition of the festival was cancelled and filed for bankruptcy.
Squamish Valley Music Festival
Originally named LIVE at Squamish, this B.C. festival launched in 2010 and over the years brought in acts like Drake, Sam Smith, Weezer, The Tragically Hip, Queens of the Stone Age, Childish Gambino, Bruno Mars and Eminem. Organizers pulled the plug in 2016.
This rock festival in tiny Montebello, Quebec drew thousands of fans every year since 2005 (except in 2006) with headliners like Korn, Sum 41, Alexisonfire, Stone Temple Pilots and Twisted Sister. The festival filed for bankruptcy after the 2018 edition, citing $5 million in debts. A scaled-back festival named Montebello Rock replaced Rockfest this summer.
Rock the Shores
This Victoria festival debuted in 2012 with The Tragically Hip as headliners and went on to welcome bands like Jane’s Addiction, The Cult and Weezer. The 2017 fest was scrapped but it returned in 2018, only to be cancelled again in 2019 – with no commitment of returning.
Sonic Boom / X-Fest
Edmonton hosted alternative rock fans at Sonic Boom every summer since 2009 and Calgary did it under the name X-Fest since 2011. Blink-182, Linkin Park and Jack White were among the headliners. But, in 2017, both fests were cancelled.
A spin-off of V Fest in the UK (which ended a two-decade run in 2017), Virgin Festival came to Toronto in 2006 with The Flaming Lips, Gnarls Barkley, and Broken Social Scene. The festival expanded to other Canadian cities but were discontinued in 2010.