Heatwave (festival)

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Heatwave promotional poster
GenreElectronic music, new wave, rock
DatesAugust 23, 1980
Location(s)Toronto at Mosport Park, north of Bowmanville, Ontario
Years active1980

Heatwave was a rock festival held on August 23, 1980 at Mosport Park north of 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.[1] 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.[2]

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, the band. In the mid 1990s 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.[3] A video recording of a portion of the set played by The Kings has also been released.[4]

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.[citation needed]


The groups were:

The Clash were originally booked, and were on the poster, but cancelled[5] or, by another story, were held up at the border due to customs.

A partial order of appearance was: Teenage Head (opened at 11:00 am),[1] The Rumour, Rockpile, Holly and the Italians, Pretenders, B-52's, Talking Heads (sunset), Elvis Costello, and the Kings (midnight).[6]

Teenage Head set list[edit]

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."[1] A year or so later, Teenage Head's live album had a picture from their Heatwave set on the cover.[7] Their set included "Wild One" (from the Frantic City album).[7]

  1. Top Down
  2. Wild One
  3. Picture My Face
  4. Some Kinda Fun
  5. Little Boxes (Alimony)
  6. Fist to Face (Everybody's Growin' Old)
  7. Let's Shake
  8. Lucy Potato
  9. Brand New Cadillac
  10. You're Tearing Me Apart
  11. Somethin' Else
  12. Kissin' The Carpet
  13. Disgusteen
  14. C'mon Everybody

The Pretenders set list[edit]

The Pretenders played a full set[8][9] at Heatwave photo and ticket.

  1. Precious
  2. The Adultress
  3. Kid
  4. Space Invader
  5. Private Life
  6. Brass in Pocket
  7. Stop Your Sobbing
  8. The Wait
  9. Louie Louie
  10. Porcelain
  11. Tattooed Love Boys
  12. Up the Neck
  13. Audience
  14. Mystery Achievement

The B-52's set list[edit]

Performing the strongest material from their first album and debuting much of the Wild Planet material before the largest live audience they had experienced up to this point.[10]

  1. Planet Claire
  2. 6060-842
  3. Devil In My Car
  4. 52 Girls
  5. Quiche Lorraine
  6. Dirty Back Road
  7. Lava
  8. Give Me Back My Man
  9. Strobe Light
  10. Private Idaho
  11. Runnin' Around
  12. Rock Lobster
  13. Dance This Mess Around
  14. Party Out of Bounds

Talking Heads set list[edit]

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).[11]

  1. Take Me to the River
  2. Psycho Killer
  3. Warning Sign
  4. Stay Hungry
  5. Cities
  6. I Zimbra
  7. Once in a Lifetime
  8. Houses in Motion
  9. Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
  10. Crosseyed and Painless
  11. Life During Wartime


Elvis Costello set list[edit]

The Heatwave festival was the only 1980 live concert in North America by Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

  1. Shot With His Own Gun (sometimes listed as "How does it Feel"), accompanied only by Steve on piano *
  2. Accidents Will Happen
  3. The Beat
  4. Temptation
  5. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding
  6. Mystery Dance
  7. Green Shirt
  8. You'll Never Be a Man
  9. (I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea
  10. Secondary Modern
  11. Pump It Up
  12. Lover's Walk
  13. Less Than Zero
  14. Big Tears
  15. High Fidelity *
  16. Lipstick Vogue *
  17. Radio Radio
  18. I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down
  19. Alison
  20. Clubland
  21. Oliver's Army
  22. Watching the Detectives
  23. You Belong to Me *

Recorded and available as a two LP disk album. "Sounds like an audience recording..." [13][14][15][16]

* may not be on all albums and order may be different

The Kings[edit]

Their set started about midnight, and they played an hour long show which included "This Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide".[7]

  1. Borrowing Time
  2. Don't Let Me Know
  3. Run Shoes Running
  4. My Habit
  5. This Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide
  6. Partyitis
  7. California Girls
  8. One Day Off
  9. Go Away

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c http://www.angelfire.com/rock/teenagehead/ShortArticles.htm from Trouser Press #56, Nov. 1980.
  2. ^ Losses: http://philbrodieband.com/music_trivia-yesterdays_august.htm
  3. ^ https://www.wolfgangs.com/playlists/1249337.html
  4. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D0M9xgjntk
  5. ^ The Clash: https://groups.google.com/group/alt.music.canada/browse_thread/thread/58839384b5ce7c93
  6. ^ Partial order: https://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.elvis-costello/browse_thread/thread/f465d5b3e6222f22
  7. ^ a b c "iPod Forums at iProng: Voice of the iPod Generation :: View topic - Did anyone attend either of these 80s music festivals". Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2006-11-27.
  8. ^ The Pretenders: soundboard cassette recording
  9. ^ The Pretenders: http://zombtracker.the-zomb.com/details.php?id=10685
  10. ^ http://www.wolfgangsvault.com
  11. ^ Talking Heads: https://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.elvis-costello/browse_thread/thread/8c9880a55665dfec
  12. ^ Talking Heads set list: http://www.tradeu2.com/setlistsotherart/talking_heads_heatwave_festival_.htm
  13. ^ Elvis Costello: ECHWC82380
  14. ^ Elvis Costello: [1] 74 minutes soundboard recording, also [2]
  15. ^ Elvis Costello: [3] 74:59 audience recording
  16. ^ Elvis Costello: back cover Archived 2006-11-18 at the Wayback Machine