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SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: bv ()
Date: October 20, 2020 19:06

I am working my way through boxes and boxes of old (non-digital) photos, shots I am planning to scan soon, and the ones from Toronto July 2003 are so special I thought I should post a few now. These are just some raw iPhone shots of the original paper photos. Later on, I think this show deserves a book on it's own. I have plenty of material, working on my basement stuff, and one day, it will be there. Meanwhile, this is the short version.

It was in the middle of the European Tour 2003. A.k.a. the Fruit of the Loom Tour (ref Keith). I had spent the summer on tour. In between shows, the Toronto show was first rumoured, then confirmed, then I had to figure out how to get from the show in Prague to Toronto Canada and then back to the tour in Europe, without blowing my tour budget. Somehow, I managed to make it, it took all my air miles, and more, but I made it. These are some of the memories.

I stayed in an apartment in Prague with Roberto, friend from A.dam/Milan. The Stones show in Prague was Sunday July 27. Early next morning I was on a train from Prague to Frankfurt Airport. Then staying there overnight, 40 Euro IBIS room, can't beat that, then a flight the next day to Newark NJ USA, then another flight to Toronto Canada. The travel took me some 40 hours, but I was there. Meanwhile, The Stones left in their chartered plane Monday afternoon at 7pm, and they had been in Toronto for a "long" time already. Anyway, we all had the same jetlag, six hours difference between Europe and Toronto.

The show was on Wednesday July 30, 2003. It was a hot hot day, more than +30 C i.e. more than 90 F and sunshine all day. The Stones show ticket cost me $20 or so, and I was given a special hospitality access pass, to the "international tent". It was great to be in that tent, also to meet friends, mostly from USA and Canada, it gave us a bit of shade, but it was on the far side, and I wanted to be up close, so I spent most of the time in the sun, in the crowd. We drank plenty of water all day. They said we should drink one bottle every hour, I tried my best.

This is the IORR reporting from the show:

The Rolling Stones
Downsview Park
Toronto, Canada
Wednesday July 30, 2003

I will add some more comments to the SarsStock travels and stay in Toronto back then, but meanwhile I will just post some pictures I took on my way to the show, and also one of the stage. More soon.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2020-10-20 19:07 by bv.

Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Date: October 20, 2020 20:34

I was backstage at that show, fantastic memories


.....keep on rolling.....

Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: TKinOH ()
Date: October 21, 2020 00:52

Sorry I missed hooking up with you at the airport, BV... Traffic sucked!!

What a pilgrimage! My personal version of Woodstock, that's why I needed to be at Burl's Creek last summer, just a big day of music with The Rolling Stones!

My buddy and I drove up from our hometown of Troy, OH on the 29th and stayed out by the airport. I had arranged parking and a shuttle bus from York University, but once we parked, the crowds were huge waiting for the ride to Downsview, so we just walked the 2-3km and saw suburban north Toronto...

It was a long, hot day for sure but well worth it with AC/DC and Rush also on the bill, plus all the other great music to start the day off right. We pretended to try and wander toward the front of the crowd, but gave up quickly and found a decent spot with a video board, PA for sound, food and drink and restrooms all close by... really as good as most could hope for with 489,000 in attendance.

Great memories from our trip, my 2nd of three to Ontario for The Stones after getting to SkyDome in '98...

Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: More Hot Rocks ()
Date: October 21, 2020 04:07

As my wife and I were leaving, I remember the sound of empty water bottle being crunched by thousands and thousands of people leaving the grounds. It was all you heard as people left the show.

Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: buffalo7478 ()
Date: October 21, 2020 04:57

I paid $21 Canadian for my ticket ($16 US at the time) and brought my then 13 yr old son with me, driving up from Buffalo the day of the show, checking into a downtown hotel and taking a 15 minute subway ride to the show. No traffic, no hassles - really well run.

We got there when the Flaming Lips were on-stage. Skipped the first couple of bands as I wanted to check out other parts of the event and it was already VERY hot. The venue, Downsview Park, was a former air base - lots of tarmac, very few trees.

I have never been further from a stage at any show I've attended. Easily 200+ meters away but the sound was PERFECT - loud, very clear and well-mixed, with 27 speaker towers and video screens, well-synced so sound and vision were perfect.

Flaming Lips, Isley Brothers (who were amazing), Blue Rodeo (Toronto favorites), Tea Party (not my thing), Justin Timberlake (much better than expected, despite projectiles flying at him from the crowd), The Guess Who's classic lineup circa late 60s into maybe '71 who were spectacular, touching on much of the best of their catalog (even my 13 yr old was blown away by them), Rush being Rush and sounding great (a band people seem to love or hate, they were easy to love that day), then ACDC (who I did not 'get' or like much at all before that day, but came away a fan - they were loud, clear and entertaining with 400,000+ people seeming to know ever song). Then the day had its first and only negative.

The breaks between bands had been minutes long all day, keeping the adrenaline flowing. But after ACDC it took the Stones crew forever to get the stage set. I did not time it, but it was easily over an hour. After all the great performances and moving to them in the heat, you could feel the energy of the crowd was dissipating. When the Stones finally took the stage, something was horribly wrong with the sound. Every preceding band had truly perfect sound yet the Stones were barely audible, with the guitars almost completely missing. Start Me Up and Brown Sugar were muffled and lacking any guitar. Some people were heading for the exit. It wasn't until Ruby Tuesday maybe 5 songs in that sound cleared up to be acceptable. Things got ugly during Miss You as Timberlake came on to sing with Mick and was getting hit with projectiles again, but this time Keef coming to his defense, truly pissed off and pointing to people for security to eject (looking back on it, how tame compared to Altamont...even though in the moment it was getting ugly). Malcolm and Angus guested on a cover of Rock Me Baby and all was good in the world again. The crowd was now very much energized again. As the band was hitting the end of their set, we started wandering toward the subway station, listening to the band roll thru Satisfaction, followed by fireworks. We arrived at the subway entrance and the funniest thing of the day happened:

To avoid the chance of pushing/shoving, police were only letting in enough people to fill a train at a time, then closing the doors to the building till the next train. They may have had worries of a drunken crowd pushing and fighting or someone getting pushed onto the tracks. But this was a really well-behaved crowd. Alcohol could only be purchased and consumed really far from the stage, without a view of the show, so very few people drank. I also think they limited everyone to a max of 2 beers. But while waiting to get into the subway station with easily 5,000 people, a bible-toting minister climbed a wall next to us, and started going on about what sinners we all were, listening to the devil's music, and unless we repented we would all be going to hell.....stuff heard from street preachers in many cities. He was very sincere, very plaintive. As he tells the crowd his message, someone shouts: 'we're all on the highway to hell!' and this huge crowd immediately launched into a several thousand person choir singing Highway To Hell. The look on the minister's face was priceless. Totally dejected. Knew he picked the wrong audience as he kind of melted off the wall and back to our level on the ground! An amazing day, amazing ending.

The subway was the way to go to this show. We were on a train 10-15 minutes after the Stones finished and at our hotel 15 minutes later in downtown. Friends who drove up from Buffalo did not get out of their parking lot for one 3 hours, then had a 4 hour ride home instead of the usual 1:45 from Toronto. My sincere goal, once the world is back operating as normal is to spend a summer doing festival after festival on both sides of the Atlantic, and fill the space between big shows with intimate club shows all I can. There is no replacement for live music but live music.

Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: MileHigh ()
Date: October 21, 2020 06:45

AC/DC blew the Stones out of the water. Angus Young played amazingly and he was mesmerizing. The Stones came on and their body language was all wrong. They made it look like they were dragged into doing the event. They played a shortened set. The energy was just not there.

And in retrospect it's somewhat strange because in general they get a lot of respect for the 2002-03 Licks tour. It just wasn't their night and half way through the last song myself and my girlfriend decided to start the long long walk back to the car.

Not a great gig for the Rolling Stones.

Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: SomeTorontoGirl ()
Date: October 21, 2020 12:41

...I have never been further from a stage at any show I've attended. Easily 200+ meters away but the sound was PERFECT - loud, very clear and well-mixed, with 27 speaker towers and video screens, well-synced so sound and vision were perfect...

My first Stones show and, to keep cool, my friend chose a spot well to the back, away from most of the crowd. We relied on video screens and speakers, which worked well. How far back? Due to the curvature of the earth, I could not testify in a Court of Law that they were even in Canada. grinning smiley

Since then, 29 shows in 8 countries and a rather expensive preference for the Pit. Got the bug real bad...

Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: bv ()
Date: October 21, 2020 15:28

The Rolling Stones went on stage at 10pm, and they performed for 1h 40 min. Like me, they were on European Time Zone, 6h ahead of EST in Toronto, so it was really a performance from 4am until shortly before 6am the next morning in theirs as well as my "body clocks". No wonder they did not have the same energy as AC/DC on stage that night.

Still, I loved the show, I loved the whole day out there at Downsview Park. The weather was great. As we walked our way to the large field, it was dusty, and you had this festival feeling, hundreds of thousands of people all coming in. We were some 450,000 people by the time the Stones went on stage.

Next day Thursday July 31 I was on my way back to Europe, on an intercontinental flight to Frankfurt, and further on. My entire stay in Toronto had been less than two days. Plus two days of travel each way from and back to Europe.

Then Mick lost his voice getting laryngitis, it happened almost every time they changed climate dramatically, or continents, from then and on, so the SarsStock "extra" show came at a price. The next show in Benidorm Spain got canceled, so I had two trips to Benidorm that tour. The good news was that the next show in Hannover was on, and the tour was on!


Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: downagain ()
Date: October 21, 2020 18:10

I lived a couple hours away so making it to Toronto was something I'd done multiple times for the Stones and other bands.

I stayed at my sister's place with a couple girls (one of which I had the hots for) who I'd never been to a concert with before. The plan was to meet two of my other friends who I always went to shows with. They said to meet at "the main gate". I kinda pressed them for a more specific location because I knew how many people were supposed to be attending and that there would likely be many points of entry. They thought I was wrong so I relented.

Sure enough, when I arrived with the two girls it was damn near impossible to determine where to meet so eventually we just gave up and it was going to be me and the two girls for the day. So we staked out our spot, in the beaming hot sun, amongst the thousands of other people.

I said to the girls, "I know this isn't going to happen but if you happen to see a guy who's 6 foot 10 with a beard let me know." Not more than 5 minutes later the girl I'm into asks "Is that him?" And sure enough it was and I got to spend the day with my pals and on the LSD which they were the bringers of.

I'll echo the sentiments of those above re. the performance of the Stones and others that day.

One other thing I'll point out was that this was after some sort of Canadian beef crisis...mad cow probably. Belushi and Ackroyd did these pretty horrible skits between some of the sets to promote buying beef. You could get big steak sandwiches there for something like 5 bucks.

Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: Boognish ()
Date: October 21, 2020 18:31

I'll never forget that day. I watched most of the show on a screen as my friends and I were so far back from the stage. My biggest regret is missing the Flaming Lips' set because I was stuck in a beer tent line watching a woman flash her boobs. Good times.

Re: SarsStock Toronto Canada 2003 memories
Posted by: Rockman ()
Date: October 22, 2020 00:01

..... Poor kid ....
what a terrible place to breast feed ....


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