ConcertsMusic History

SARSstock, 20 years later: Got any memories?

[A request for memories by contributor Gilles LeBlanc. – AC]

Twenty years ago in Toronto was quite the time to be alive. Despite a cloud of the OG respiratory illness hanging over the megacity, looking back there were more than a few concerts in 2003 that helped get people through unsure and sometimes scary times while creating memories that have lasted all the way until now. The knee-jerk reaction for most would probably be that little shindig The Rolling Stones threw down at Downsview Park on July 30, 2003. If you haven’t heard about it, I’d love to know what rock you’ve been living under – there were only an estimated half million music fans there.

A Journal of Musical Things is interested in cranking up the old wayback machine and soliciting from the pop culture public what their unforgettable concert recollections were from 2003. If you were at SARSstock or whatever it was called, have any cool stories from that day you’d like to share for its anniversary? While there were fears the concert industry would be shut down here like COVID managed to do, the Stones and AC/DC were far from the only event taking place that year. It was the last Edgefest at Molson Park and as such was dubbed “The Last Bash in Barrie” with a cornucopia of Canadian talent in The Tragically Hip, Our Lady Peace and more. Speaking of The Hip and OLP, who remembers how they were part of another “SARSfest” at the SkyDome a month prior to the infinitely more famous Stones gig? Was anyone reading happen to be at that?

Personally, I bought scalped tickets to see a two-piece band with some buzz behind them on a cold, cold November night; I don’t regret my first time seeing The White Stripes live for a second. If you have your own “I Was There” moment you’d like to let me in on, feel free to email [email protected]. Were you in the crowd on Foo Fighters’ “Everywhere but Home” DVD from Arrow Hall? Maybe you were surprised by Iggy Pop showing up with Sum 41 at the 2003 CASBY Awards? Wherever you found yourself that year, if there was music being performed I’d love to know more about it!

Leave a comment or contact Gilles here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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5 thoughts on “SARSstock, 20 years later: Got any memories?

  • SARSStock was how I discovered RUSH – I was taking a summer course at the time and would come home to see the acts / highlight reels of the concerts and was intrigued by the songs I heard from this band that had dryers on stage. Not catching the band name, I spent an embarrassingly long time searching for the band using a snippet of lyrics and “band with dryers”. Now, I’m a top listener of RUSH on Spotify and got a shoutout from Geddy’s PR person on Twitter. But I’ll never forget seeing them play that first time.

  • I was there that day with my brother, my best friend and his brother. We hung out next to the sound stage all day and had a great time. We met some cool people and listened to some awsome music.

  • Link to contact seems to refer to an article instead of contact info

  • SARSstock was great–you can’t pay $21 to see the Stones or AC/DC (or anyone else really) on their own but that day you did and saw enough bands and artists to fulfill your life’s concert wish list. Unfortunately I had a small bout of sickness (food poisoning?) and–sigh–missed part of Justin Timberlake’s set!


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