It was a true surprise.

Of course, I did know we were going to spend the Victoria Day long weekend in Toronto, and I did notice that Feng played pretty much the entire Neil Young discography in the car.

But it’s only on Saturday that he announced he had tickets to the Monday night concert. “I wasn’t sure about it,” he explained. “It’s outdoor and it was supposed to rain all weekend…”

But it wasn’t raining in Toronto. In fact, the weather was gorgeous, hotter than any Victoria Day long weekend I could remember. I was already excited about our three-day getaway—wandering in a city where there were people in the street, eating cheap Chinese food, and finding fun things to do. A surprise concert on top of that? Bring it on!

I grew up listening to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden—Neil Young is the “godfather of grunge” so I know most of his songs even though I wasn’t born when After the Gold Rush and Harvest were released.

On Monday, Feng and Mark were at a Blue Jays game while I wandered around and took tons of pictures I have yet to edit. We met a couple of blocks from the Rogers Centre at 5:30 p.m. The plan was to walk to the Budweiser Stage at Ontario Place and then eventually walk back to the car, parked close to Queen Street, after the show.

Long walks but doable.

Except that at 6:30 p.m., on the way to the venue, I got a weather alert on my phone—severe thunderstorms, possible tornadoes, take shelter and all.

“Fuck.”

“Fuck.”

“We’re gonna get soaked.”

“Oh well.”

“Let’s at least drive to the venue, then.”

So we turned around, walked back to the car, and drove to Ontario Place.

The gates weren’t open yet because of the weather situation. I’m not sure it was a wise idea to make 20,000 people wait outside the venue, right under several power lines… but eventually the gates open and we all went through security.

We had general admission seats, so on the lawn at the back. It was jam-packed but the atmosphere was super friendly. We were all looking up at the sky, wondering if we were going to get soaked—this was the first Woodstock-like moment of the evening, I suppose. I was totally ready to start the infamous “no rain, no rain, no rain!” chant.

The opening band finished playing, the sun set over Toronto, and then all of a sudden, we found ourselves in a massive cloud of weed. People were lighting up joints all around us.

Now, this is Canada, you can’t smoke in any venue, even outdoors. There might be a designated smoking section out of the way and you will be given the death glare if you go because smoking tobacco is not socially acceptable—ask me why I know… The staff was picky when we went to the Crowded House concert, constantly reminding people to stay seated, and they went crazy when everybody started to hold up lighters during one of the ballads. Smoking pot? Yeah, right, as if it could happen…

This time, nothing.

The three dudes in front of us literally passed a cannabis pipe the entire show. Behind us, the couple was too stoned to roll properly (that’s what they claimed, anyway) and on the right, a few fatty ones were shared throughout the concert. You could see the joints glowing, the smoke rising into the air.

It made me smile. It’s cute to see Canadians break the rules—it makes them human.

I could have felt bad about Mark and had a “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!” moment but hey, honey, this is your country—over one in three Canadians use cannabis, it’s legal, you can smell it everywhere in the street (even in suburbia), and the cannabis store at the end of the street promises “the best pre-roll joints in Canada!” on a giant sign. Mark just did “Effects of cannabis, drugs” as part of the Ontario Curriculum “Healthy living” education at school. We had a little chat together afterwards—he was shocked to know it’s illegal in most countries and he knows I don’t smoke pot because I don’t like how it makes me feel.

The government says cannabis is totally fine. I’m not sure I agree, but hey, nobody is asking for my opinion. I don’t care what people do, I just get annoyed when it’s touted as a lifestyle. Like, give me a break.

But this time, I got it. If you’re enjoying smoking pot, indulging at a Neil Young concert totally makes sense.

Before you ask, no, we didn’t smoke pot—not only because of Mark but because I’m really not into cannabis, any other drug, or booze for that matter. If I want to escape, I do it literally, I go travelling.

Still, lying on the grass, gazing at the sky, and listening to Neil Young sing the world the way he sees it was a trippy experience. I did escape, carried by the music, the energy (… or rather, the lethargy, see paragraphs above) of the crowd.

It was awesome.

Such moments are precious.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, May 20, 2024, Budweiser Stage. 909 Lake Shore Blvd W Toronto
 

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6 Comments

  1. Julie Valet May 23, 2024 at 1:36 am

    Ça avait l’air incroyable!

    Reply
    1. Zhu May 23, 2024 at 3:06 am

      C’était une belle surprise, les billets et le concert en lui-même.

      Reply
  2. Lexie May 23, 2024 at 6:45 am

    Belle expérience ! Est ce que Mark a aimé le concert ?

    Reply
    1. Zhu May 23, 2024 at 7:49 pm

      He didn’t know Neil Young’s music as much as Crowded House. But he said he liked the atmosphere.

      Reply
  3. Christiane June 13, 2024 at 4:37 pm

    That’s awesome! Outdoor music festival with kids is always an experience with all of sorts of things 😀

    Reply
    1. Zhu June 14, 2024 at 12:52 am

      I know, right?

      Come to think of it, I don’t even know what kind of music you’re into…?

      Reply

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