Monday, July 18, 2011

Vancouver Folk Music Festival: Day Two -- 07/16/11

It was a little rainy for day two of the Vancouver Folk Music Fest, (see day one here) but it was just a little wet, it was still good, and the day started early with an 11am workshop. The workshops consisted of three or four bands on stage at once, playing each one of their songs, with the chance for others to join in and jam with them. Sometimes they did that, though sometimes it just ended up being each band playing a song individually.
And again, I will attempt to keep things as brief as I can, but this was probably the most packed day, so no promises.

First workshop was the "Sounds Of Home" with Joel Plaskett, Jim Bryson, The Burning Hell and The Dardanelles, moderated by Joel, who started things off with "Love This Town". They went down the line and each played three songs, with others occasionally joining in. Though the joining in didn't happen too often, but the best at it was members of The Burning Hell, especially their baritone sax. I hadn't seen Jim Bryson live before, but he was pretty good, especially "Metal Girls" (but more on him in day three) and The Dardanelles were definitely a maritime band, with a couple sea shanties. It was a pretty fun workshop, but it would be overshadowed by the two the next day (ooh, foreshadowing!).

The next show for me was one I was looking forward to the most, Imaginary Cities playing a full set. They went on a little late due to some technical problems; which seemed to be persistent on Stage 3, where I spent most of my time at the festival, but with the sheer amount of things on stage for the weekend and the required quick turnarounds, it was forgivable.
They started off with "Say You" and played most of the songs off their amazing debut Temporary Resident. Marti's vocals were amazing live, and Rusty was as great as you would expect.
Highlights were "Ride This Out", one of my favourite songs this year, which starts mellow and then explodes, and the climactic "That's Where It's At, Sam" which ended the set. "Hummingbird" was also fantastic live. It was an incredibly fun set, and I was so glad to have seen them play a full set during the festival.

setlist
Say You, Marry The Sea, Ride This Out, Cherry Blossom Tree, Calm By Storm, Temporary Resident, Where'd All The Living Go, Hummingbird, That’s Where It's At Sam.

Soon after, the evening shows started with Danny Michel at Stage 3. I wasn't overly familiar with his stuff, but he won me over in his first song with some cool looping, which I am a sucker for.
He was really fun to watch live, and even if he hadn't told a story about finding one of Paul Simon's apples and trying to plant a Paul Simon Apple Tree from it, I would have been able to tell his influence on Michel.
There were a few songs I recognized through the set, "Maybe You Can In Your Heart", "Feathers Fur and Fin" and "Who's Gonna Miss You", and he brought the show to an end with some more looping -- after having a couple problems with the pedals, but his persistence paid off -- and then some awesome use of sound effects off his iPod, which is hard to describe but awesome to hear.

After him was The Burning Hell again, but this time for a full set of their own. They are a pretty hilarious band, but not in the "novelty song" kind of way, more like clever lyrics and storytelling. Two great examples of that would be "Flux Capacitor", the title track from their new album, as well as "Dance Dance Dance" which had its very own disco break. They also have an incredibly upbeat, folk rock sound, and the combination of both those factors make for an undeniably fun set.
They wrapped up with "It Happens In Florida", an interesting spin on a love song with lyrics like "Love, it’s like a newborn child: seems interesting when it’s young, gets pedestrian after a while", and at the end, lead singer Mathias (and his big bushy beard) was getting the whole crowd to sing along.

Next up was [the legendary] Buck 65, who I had never seen before, so was really interested to see. He had a laptop and turntable and nothing much else on stage, aside from a music stand which he read lyrics to a couple songs off of, and was joined by Marnie Herald for backup vocals, especially for a lot of the songs from 20 Odd Years. The songs were not quite the same without the likes of Jenn Grant and Nick Thorburn, but she did a really good job regardless.
Buck was really energetic and fun to watch, dancing around and hamming it up for the children in the crowd, especially during "BBC", and he was also a great storyteller -- which makes sense with his CBC Radio 2 show Drive -- as he told a tale of going to not just the wrong venue, but the wrong city to play a show in Sweden.
Some other highlights from the set were "Indestructible Sam", which had Emily Wells join him on violin, the incredibly fun "Zombie Delight", which is about exactly what the title implies, and a bit of an experiment... He mentioned he played a festival recently at the same time as John Fogerty, so as a kind of "thanks" to the people watching him, he used "Run Through The Jungle" as the musical bed for "Wicked & Weird", which was pretty amazing. He put on an incredibly fun set, and I would definitely see him live again, given the chance. (Unfortunately, I had to miss his workshops the next day)

Finally, closing out the night was Elliott BROOD. It had been a long time since I had last seen them live, and I was definitely excited to hear their new stuff. And the "death country" trio did not disappoint. Even though there was a couple times that Mark looked frustrated, the band sounded absolutely great.
The awesome instrumental "Chuchwagon" and the new single, "Northern Air", just one of the few new songs they threw into the set, were both a few of the highlights, as well as the bands intense energy. Mark and Casey, who share guitar and vocals, and Stephen on drums all had an incredible energy to them and are amazing to watch live.
After everyone sang along to "Oh Alberta", they handed out the trademark tin pans and wooden spoons -- and after seeing them live thrice before, I finally got one of my own -- to bang along to "This Valley Town", and then for the big finale of "Write It All Down For You" with the whole crowd banging and shouting along to the HEYHEYHEY!'s.
But of course, that wasn't the end, as they were back out for one more, the soft -- or as soft as the Brood can be -- and beautiful "Miss You Now". An amazing set, and definitely one of the highlights of the whole festival.

Well, that's two days down and one to go, with the last day consisting of two absolutely amazing workshops, and a couple other great concerts by Kathryn Calder and Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans Band.

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