Monday, August 22, 2011

Live at Squamish: Day One -- 08/20/11

Yeah, I guess the view is pretty good. (Haines & Shaw)
What a weekend. For a second year, Squamish was filled with music and love for the Live at Squamish music festival. Last year was incredible, and it would be hard to top, but the weather held and the gorgeous backdrop of the mountains made it a perfect setting for a festival.

The weekend started for me with a surprise Hey Ocean! set at the Green Couch Sessions stage. They played a few songs that would not be in their set on the main stage later, including a cover of "Be My Baby". After them was Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party, who are always a lot of fun. They ended their quick set with their eponymous song that had singer/guitarist Michael Shindler out in the crowd and playing on a picnic table.
I wish I had caught more of the Green Couch stage, as they brought up some other great local acts, like Redbird, Portage & Main, Rococode and The Matinee, but there was just too much going on. It was a great addition to the festival, though, and I hope they can do it again next year.

Hey Ocean! makes me want to make a new dance up.
From there it was to the Girabaldi Stage, the second stage, for a little acoustic Metric with Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw. I am not sure the reasoning behind the last minute lineup shuffle -- Metric was supposed to headline the first night, but got moved to Sunday and the acoustic set added -- but more Metric is always welcome. They played a few Metric songs, but also threw in some covers; The Strokes, Buffalo Springfield, Shaw taking over vocals on a Neil Young's "Sugar Mountain". The set was good, but I think their acoustic show works better in a smaller, intimate setting as opposed to a big outdoor stage.

At the main stage, the Stawamus Stage, was Hey Ocean!, who always put on a fun show that is insanely upbeat and filled with catchy. Plus, Ashleigh Ball is just adorable. The set included old favourites like "Fish", which had bubbles being blown into the crowd and the set-ending "Song About California" as well as some new ones, like "Make A New Dance Up", which is one of the catchiest songs I had heard all weekend. With a great energy, you could tell each and every member of the band loved being up there and getting to play for everyone.

Stars Take Squamish to the Riot.
Following them was Stars, which was my favourite set of the day. Hitting the stage with their usual incredible energy and musicianship, they played a good mix of old and new, with highlights being "We Don't Want Your Body", the anthemic "Take Me To The Riot", and "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead", which Torquil prefaced by saying asking us to "take a minute to think of the ones we hate most" -- but was also sure to point out the breathtaking scenery and setting sun, too. They closed out the set with their hit "Elevator Love Letter" to a captivated crowd, and even though I have seen them live, multiple times and I am never disappointed and will never tire of seeing them play.

It was back to the Giribaldi stage where the plan was to catch the tail end of Shad, who was scheduled to start shortly after Stars. But the stage had been running late all day, so I got there at the second song -- which was "Rose Garden" with Ashleigh Ball from Hey Ocean! helping out on vocals. To be honest, I have never been that huge fan of Shad's music, but I absolutely respect what he does, and he puts on a hell of a live show. "Ya, I Get It" and "The Old Prince Still Lives at Home" were a couple of the highlights, the latter finished with him rapping just to everyone clapping out a beat.

I caught some of John Butler Trio next, listening from the media tent. What I heard sounded great, with amazing guitar playing skills throughout the set, and while I hadn't really heard too much of their music before the weekend, I was going to have to change that.

Explosive dancing and confetti for Girl Talk
And finally, closing out the night on the Stawamus Stage was Girl Talk, who threw one hell of a dance party. I am not sure if he was mixing live or just hit "play" on his laptop, but the entire field was turned into a huge dancing throng -- even those that don't normally dance (read: me). With a stage full of dancers (not professional dancers mind you, but people pulled up from the crowd), balloons, confetti and streaming toilet paper, and music ranging from Lady Gaga to Radiohead, he wrapped up the first night with a bang.
I am not normally a fan of dance music, but his mashups were tight and I liked that he used an eclectic selection of songs. Where else would you be able to hear Nirvana, Modest Mouse and Modern English mashed up with Kylie Minogue, Tag Team and Blackstreet?

Stay tuned (or, the interwebs equivalent of "tuned") for day two of the festival, which was stacked with the mysterious Panda Watch, more Metric and the face melting epicness of Black Mountain, among others.

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