Photographs by Joshua Chia
Manifesto launched its eleventh festival with a packed concert event at Echo Beach that easily doubled as an unofficial launch to Toronto’s summer season. Bringing a roster of emerging talent including headliner MajidJordan, The Internet, Isaiah Rashad, Jidenna, Tika, Sean Leon, and more, Manifesto once again demonstrated why it is an essential cultural institution in the city.
The daylong festivities allowed the community to collectively celebrate the beauty of music and art right at Toronto’s shoreline. Early birds caught local artists Tika, Matthew Progress, Sean Leon, Derin Falana, and The Sorority, as well as the ever-engaging Jidenna.
Top Dawg Entertainment signee Isaiah Rashad took the stage later on to deliver cuts from his album The Sun’s Tirade. Apart from taking in his appearance on the large screens adorning the stage and laughing away his opening number, Rashad spent the bulk of his hour-long set focused on delivering a solid performance to what seemed to be a largely unfamiliar crowd. A few diehard TDE fans hugged one another as Rashad threw in older numbers like “Ronnie Drake” from his Cilvia Demo mixtape, but even for those who were new to the rising rapper, Rashad gave a swiftly energetic set that will drive them to future shows.
Californians The Internet provided the perfect soundtrack to the twilight hour. “This is a beautiful sunset,” lead singer Syd said. “It’s better than back home.” Celebrating a combination of The Internet’s studio releases (including Grammy-nominated Ego Death) and solo projects, their performance melded soul, jazz, and R&B to create an immersive vibe that entranced. Joking if the audience was awake, Syd brought them into the fold by asking them to sing along with their breakup tune “Just Sayin’/I Tried”.
Maybe it seems corny to label their set magical, but for that hour, as the heat rolled away and Syd soothed with her delicate, airy vocals, you could appreciate why we need organizations like Manifesto to create these safe spaces within the city. People need the opportunity to gather, to absorb, and to just be with the sounds of evolving culture. Eleven years deep, Manifesto continues to grow that space, and well.
Toronto-natives MajidJordan closed out the show with little time wasted skirting around the show at hand. Opening with “A Place Like This”, the duo mirrored their galactic sounds with planetary visuals, thick smoke, and changing neon coloured bars. Their soul-pop proved to be a perfect atmospheric cocktail, with songs like “Something About You”, “My Love”, and “Every Step Every Way” ringing in the right kind of R&B groove. On old favourite “Her”, singer Majid Al Maskati’s vocals carved the dark mood of the night.
MajidJordan steadily built a larger audience since releasing their self-titled debut last year. Heavy touring, including stints at Coachella and Governor’s Ball, allowed them to grow their fan base while finessing their cool confidence on-stage. For a duo birthed in the dorms of the University of Toronto, it felt good to see them back home, stronger than ever.
“Yo I gotta say Toronto, this is a dream come true,” commented Majid about their biggest show in their hometown. The duo brought out fellow OVO Sound members dvsn and Roy Woods to commemorate the moment, and celebrate their own community. Taking that in – this collective of artists, who are actively contributing to not only local music culture, but also the city’s brand – felt like a true testament to Manifesto’s mission. To help that mission; to make these artists, creators, and community thrive; supporting events like these is all the more critical. This is how we rise together.