After experiencing Austin’s South by Southwest festival in 2009, local photographer/sound man Tim McCready wanted to bring some of that city’s casual barbecue-concert culture back home. So he devised an unofficial daytime complement to Toronto’s own North by Northeast bonanza by inviting a small cabal of his musician friends to play at his west-end house. Five years later, the 159 Manning party has become an official NXNE event, spanning two days, three stages, and some 26 acts. We find out how McCready’s managed to host his annual backyard Coachella without pissing off his neighbours and local police.
250: Number of people who can comfortably fit in McCready’s backyard.
100: Number of additional people who can fit if McCready rents his neighbour’s yard.
$500 Amount of money McCready paid to rent his neighbour’s backyard in 2011, increasing his lot size from 30 feet wide to 50 feet. “I basically broke even that year, which, with the amount of work I put in, is not really breaking even. So I only gave [my neighbour] $300 the next year, and she wasn’t really happy about that, so she wouldn’t let me rent it last year. I’m just going to have to give her cash this year, because I need the space!”
9.5: Number of years McCready has lived at 159 Manning.
45: Number of roommates he’s had in that time. “I’ve had more problems over the years with roommates than I’ve ever had with people coming to the parties here. People are very respectful of the space; I’ve never noticed anything missing. But roommates will get the idea that it’s a party house, and I tell them it’s not, and then they move in and act like assholes.”
5: Number of bands who played the first 159 Manning gathering in 2009. (Performances were indoors only.)
9: Number of bands who performed at the barbecue in 2010, the first year the party featured an outdoor stage.
$0: Price of admission in 2009.
$10: Price of admission in 2010.
$30: Price of admission in 2011, the first year to feature three stages and a full-on pig roast. “Once I started charging $30, the crowd completely turned over.”
$20: Price of admission for each of this year’s events. (The pig roast now costs $10 extra.)
60: Number of advance tickets McCready is selling for each event.
2: Number of security guards McCready hires.
$1,000: Cost of feeding bands and staff.
11 p.m.: Curfew for the events.
4: Number of times the cops showed up to the 2011 party. “They were like, ‘Yep, it’s a bunch of adults drinking in a backyard!’ But they didn’t seem to be concerned about bands playing.”
0: Number of times cops have visited since.
And just what do the neighbours think? “I never say anything. The key is, this isn’t a party house. I have these barbecues, and I have a New Year’s Eve party, but I don’t bother them the rest of the year. The neighbours all love it. The only one who doesn’t come is my next-door neighbour, whose backyard I rent!”
The 159 Manning barbecues happen June 13 (Buck 65, Biblical, Golden Dogs, Choir!Choir!Choir!, and more) and June 20 (KC Acccidental, Xiu Xiu, Light Fires, and more), noon–11 p.m. $20 each day; advance tickets available at Soundscapes and Rotate This. BYOB.