That Time I Found A New Favourite Band (Or, “The Importance of Being Early”)

Animal Collective at Rogers Picnic

Photo from

(This entry is part of an ongoing guest blog series I am doing for and LCBO’s Whisky Rocks.)

I almost never arrive at concerts early. It’s not my fault! Really! I just have a hard time getting out the door in time, and HELLO, has anyone here tried to get anywhere on the TTC ever? EVER? You can’t. Sorry.

The only time I see more than one band at a show is when I go FOR the opener, or it’s a festival. Can you call a band an opener if it’s a festival? Sure!

The year was 2008. It was an overcast July afternoon that happened to also be my sister’s birthday. As her gift, I bought her a ticket to the Rogers Picnic at Toronto’s Historic Fort York. The line-up included such acts as Born Ruffians,  Vampire Weekend, Chromeo, Tokyo Police Club and City & Colour- but for me, the most memorable set of the day was Animal Collective. We weren’t there to see Animal Collective- but when they played at 4pm in the afternoon, and for me, they stole the show.

(Let me clarify beforehand – the line to the beer tent was long. The line to buy the tickets was longer. The line to actually buy beer was the longest of all [surprise!] – so I was completely sober and clear minded when Animal Collective played their set.)

I’d heard of Animal Collective before, but I’d never seen them. And I had never listened to their music much.  Their set at the Rogers Picnic that day changed everything. Their set was hypnotic, transcendent, beautiful and weird – and on top of that, only half of the band was actually there – Panda Bear and Avey Tare (and Avey Tare’s bright red bucket hat)! They were amazing. I felt transported and float-y, despite of the mud and rain and lack of beer.

I was completely immersed and, subsequently, won over. After that show, I dove headfirst into their discography, and they’re now one of my favourite bands. I’ve seen them multiple times, I’ve actually purchased their records (with real money, people!) and they opened my ears to a style of music I’d previously let go unexplored. It was a wonderful example of what can happen if you get to a show early and give the bands you don’t know a good listen and a fair chance!

And if you’d like YOUR band to be the act someone discovers by surprise, you should enter for a chance to open for The Trews! Right now!

To enter the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, upload your original music demo to the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition at between September 17 at 10:15 a.m. EST and October 19 at 4:15 p.m. ESTThe LCBO will review each entry and if it meets all guidelines and requirements, the song will be posted on where friends, family, and the general public can vote between October 23 at 10:15 a.m. EST and November 1 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The top 3 finalists with the most votes will be announced on November second, and will win a slot to open for The Trews on November 8th in Barrie, ON, where a panel of judges and the Trews will then select one winner. The winners will be announced at on November 9th.

Tickets to the Trews show and Whisky tasting cost $25 and are available online at, by phone at 1-866-943-8849, at ticket outlets, or at the door. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Dixon Hall, a United Way member agency and its Music School program, which provides youth with music instruction and opportunities to attend music camps across Ontario.

Concertgoers must be 19 years of age or older and valid ID is required.

For full rules and regulations for the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, visit


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