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Prepare The Ground Festival Gives Heavy Music a New Home in Toronto

Founders Denholm Whale and KW Campol say heavy music is having a moment in Canada, and the three-day festival will give stages to the full spectrum of the big-umbrella genre.

Prepare The Ground concert poster

Prepare The Ground concert poster

Toronto is getting a new heavy music festival next spring. Presented by the new independent ticketing platform DICE, Prepare The Ground will take place from May 31 to June 2, 2024, with a lineup of over 60 artists ranging from folk to hardcore to slowcore.

Bands include Cinder Well, Terminal Nation, This is Hell and a special solo performance from 40 Watt Sun. Late '90s/early 2000s American hardcore group Orchid will close their long-awaited reunion tour at Prepare The Ground.


The three-day festival will span multiple venues in the city, including the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Bar Orwell, The Garrison, Lee’s Palace and The Baby G. Just over half of the artists have been announced as of December 12.

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The heavy music festival is the creation of lifelong friends, KW Campol and Denholm Whale. Campol runs the management firm Mythos and record label Perpetual Flame Ministries, while Whale runs independent concert promoter Transmit Presents. Both founders are also in bands, with Campol playing in doom metal duo Vile Creature and Whale playing in shape-shifting industrial project Odonis Odonis.

They both noticed a gap in the festival market for the broad umbrella of "heavy" music — not just metal, but punk, noise, post-rock and everything in between. Whale says heavy music is having a moment in Toronto, especially with younger audiences. What’s missing is the space for it.

“Toronto is the perfect location for this, not only because it is where we call home, but because of the lack of interesting music festivals and events compared to a lot of major cities in Europe and the U.S.,” Whale tells Billboard Canada. “[The appeal] has to do a lot with the state of the world," he argues. "Catharsis is in demand.”

Toronto’s scene has ebbed and flowed throughout the years, but Campol says that in the last few years have seen some of the strongest heavy music from artists both local and international. Artists such as Kontravoid and Tomb Mold (whose 2023 album The Enduring Spirit charted on Top Current Album Sales) have garnered a dedicated fan base, Whale points out, and both will be playing the festival.

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“Toronto has always been a town that embraces honest, cathartic music and that is what we are trying to provide through this festival, and if the response so far to our announcements says anything it is that people agree,” says Campol.

Canadian talent is scattered across the line-up, with Toronto punk band Burning Love performing a reunion show following their split in 2015.

While metal shows sometimes fill major venues in the city including occasional arenas, Prepare The Ground is a sprawling buffet of heavy acts. It also fills a gap left behind by punk and hardcore promoter Not Dead Yet, which has shifted to ongoing shows from its annual festivals.

“Our template and main inspiration for this event is similarly curated events like Sonicboom, Amplifest and most specifically Roadburn in the Netherlands,” says Whale. “If we can provide 10% of the experience that Roadburn does with Prepare the Ground this festival will be a wholly unique experience in North America.”

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Ticket sales have exceeded the duo's expectations, with early bird passes selling out within a few hours of release. The majority of the three-day passes have sold out, with only half of the lineup announced.

The full lineup and access to single-day passes will be available on January 9th. Tickets are currently on sale on DICE.

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Diljit Dosanjh
Live Nation

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