Heatwave promotional poster
|Genre||Electronic music, new wave, rock|
|Dates||August 23, 1980|
|Location(s)||Toronto at Mosport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario|
Heatwave was a rock festival August 23, 1980, outside of Toronto at Mosport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario. The slogans used to promote the show were variously the "Punk Woodstock", the "New Wave Woodstock", or "The 1980s Big Beat Rock and Roll Party". The festival was noteworthy because of the importance of the headliner bands that played and the timing in the evolution of new wave music, and from the size of the crowd.
The festival was noteworthy because of the importance of the headliner bands that played and the timing in the evolution of new wave music, and from the size of the crowd. Tickets were $20 ($25 at the gate), 85,000 people attended but at 5 pm Dan Aykroyd, in character as Elwood Blues, during a live radio interview from backstage with friend and festival promoter John Brower, asked Brower if he could invite everyone listening to come out and be on his guest list. Brower immediately agreed and within 90 minutes another 15,000 people poured into the park swelling the crowd to almost 100,000 just as Talking Heads took the stage as the sun set. The crowd inched forward to accommodate the "guests" and a sense of wonder swept over everyone as no one other than Brower and Aykroyd and the radio audience was aware of the last minute free invitation. Scandal plagued the event with accusations tossed back and forth between the backers and park management the latter claiming to have thrown away all the ticket stubs as "no one told them to keep them" The event reportedly lost a million dollars.
Despite the fact that no rights agreements were signed, the entire concert was recorded professionally. The tapes surfaced sometime later that year and were secured by Brower after being turned over by the studio whose recording truck had been on location to record Teenage Head. In the mid 90's the tapes were handed over to Canadian independent record executive Jan Haust by Brower to ensure their professional restoration and safe keeping. 102 of those tracks, by the five most famous of the bands, were acquired by Wolfgangs, which also holds the rights to Bill "Wolfgang" Graham's archive; by 2017 they were posted on its website.
At the time of the festival, a new wave/punk festival seemed a novel idea to many, especially as many of these bands typically played at night, in clubs--not outdoors in the hot summer sunlight. Rock magazine CREEM published an overview of Heatwave from that point of view, using a few words of parody in comparison to Woodstock.
It may bear further verification, but some remember The Ramones as being initially announced for the festival.
The groups were:
A partial order of appearance was: Teenage Head (opened at 11:00 am), The Rumour, Rockpile, Holly and the Italians, Pretenders, B-52's, Talking Heads (sunset), Elvis Costello, and the Kings (midnight).
The reviewer saw "two scraggly guys playing guitar and bass, and a crop-haired singer in long-tailed livery coat and eyeliner. ... good ol' head-banging ramalama punk rock. A large and vocal following cheers them on, and they play with confidence, as if they belong up front of all those people." A year or so later, Teenage Head's live album had a picture from their Heatwave set on the cover. Their set included "Wild One" (from the Frantic City album).
The band that toured for the Remain in Light album, including Adrian Belew, performed for the first time at Heatwave as the sun was setting. Their segment began with the four original members and then as the songs progressed, they added musicians and vocalists, including Nona Hendryx (vocals), Busta Jones, Steve Scales, Dolette McDonald, and Bernie Worrell (keyboards).
The Heatwave festival was the only 1980 live concert in North America by Elvis Costello and the Attractions.
Their set started about midnight, and they played an hour long show which included "This Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide".