At only 24, Eric Warner, LEFT, has risen fast in the music business since he first put out a fanzine and started booking bands when he was 15.
He’s done marketing and publicity for top acts such as White Stripes and Moby, started a successful record label with international distribution and is in charge of music initiatives for MySpace Canada.
But his favourite achievement is founding Over the Top, a multi-faceted all-ages music festival that this year takes over downtown Toronto from April 30 to May 4.
“The main focus is my festival,” Warner says. “I really enjoy building something from nothing and seeing my ideas grow to fruition.”
Over the Top was conceived in 2002 with the goal of showcasing up-and-coming local and international acts. “Bands that deserve the opportunity to play to a diverse audience,” he says.
Key to Warner’s and the festival’s ideology is that all music events are open to all ages.
“I remember how frustrating it was for me not to be able to see bands I like due to age restrictions,” Warner says. “People have been very receptive to this concept, and each year it’s continued to grow.” The festival has grown from an attendance of 500 in its first year to 3,400 last year.
The festival has also grown in its diversity. “I want to keep the festival as multi-faceted as possible,” Warner says.
It now includes theatre and film. This year, it is partnering with the Toronto Jewish Film Festival to co-present the film The Clown and the Fuhrer. The festival is also presenting the Canadian première of It is Fine: Everything is Fine, a film by Crispin Glovin.
Among the music highlights this year are a rare solo performance by Kevin Barnes, of the group Of Montreal; classical guitarist Pete Walker; and The Beginners.
The festival takes place at various venues around downtown Toronto. For more information, visit www.overthetopfest.com