Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Summer Send-Off @ Sun Peaks Resort -- 08/30-31/14

I thought I was going to go the whole summer without any music-based road trips, but when Sun Peaks announced their Summer Send-Off weekend, headlined by Arkells and Eliott BROOD, and also including Hey Ocean!, I knew it couldn't be missed. Hopping in the car with Christine of Vancouver Is Awesome , we headed up to the resort just north of Kamloops for a weekend of music in the mountains.
(and also off-road segwaying)

The first night the music started with Coloured Sky who I unfortunate missed due to rain, but JUST as Arkells hit the stage, the rain stopped and the sun peeked through the clouds.
Starting off with the first song from their new album High Noon, "Fake Money", and as soon as the song was done, lead singer Max Kerman -- always looking out for the fans -- urged everyone to rush the stage and fill the sparse VIP area at the front of the stage.

I've seen Arkells live more than a half-dozen times and they never fail to impress. Aside from guitarist Nick Dika having some small technical issues (faulty outlet, fixed by switching power supplies) they band was firing on all cylinders. Especially Max, one of the most charismatic frontmen that Canada has to offer; always moving around the stage, interacting with the crowd, sometimes even at a one-to-one level, and rarely without a giant grin on his face.

The set spanned their three albums, but also included a few of their usual covers of the Motown variety (as a "request by some friends from Vancouver") A cover of "My Girl" in the main set, and then "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" in the encore; with Max down on his knees at the front of the stage getting the crowd to sing along with the impassioned apology, "I've done a lot of foolish things / That I really didn't mean"
Other highlights of the set included more singing (or yelling) along with "Oh, The Boss is Coming", the beautiful slow burning build of "Never Thought That This Would Happen", and Anthony Carone's badass piano solo during "Puling Punches"
After a little over an hour, they ended the evening with a song that is still my favourite of theirs, "John Lennon", which even included a little bit of Iggy Izalea's "Fancy" snuck into the chorus for good measure.



The second afternoon of music on the main stage started with Hey Ocean! as they hit the stage with "If I Were A Ship", from their most recent album IS. The Vancouver band always puts on a fun and energetic live show, and even their self-admitted relaxing dip in the hot tub right before the set didn't slow them down. Lead singer Ashleigh Ball is a, well, ball of energy, dancing around stage and singing sometimes directly to the young fans in the front row.

Both Davids took over lead vocals for a song each, guitarist Beckingham for "Islands", and the low baritone of Vertesi on bass for one of my favourites off the new album, "Jolene". They also played a couple of covers in the middle of their set, first Price's "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and the slightly more PG "Be My Baby" for the all ages, late afternoon crowd.
After a couple more songs, including a new one called "Sleepwalker", they brought the set to an energetic close with the pairing of "Big Blue Wave" and "Make A New Dance Up", the latter culminating with a dance party and a giant drum breakdown, every member surrounding Johnny Andrews on the drum kit, before Ashleigh ended with a slide whistle solo (yup).

Rumour has it this may have been their last show for a while, and if that's true, then they certainly out with a bang.


And to round out the music for the weekend was Elliott BROOD, who were in Newfoundland not 24 hours earlier for the Harbourage Music Festival. But after a long day of travel they made it up to the mountains and hit the stage, clad entirely in white.

All three members were very loose, telling stories and joking around with the crowd, and letting the set flow off-the-cuff. They opened with what I think was a new song from their upcoming album Work and Love, before an hour-plus set that spanned their entire ten years.

From the older singalongs like "Oh Alberta" to the intense instrumental "Chuckwagon" and even the slower & softer "Northern Air", everything was punctuated by their amazing energy and passion; Steve's incredibly tight drumming, Mark switching seamlessly between guitar and banjo and ukulele, Casey playing the bass pedals with his feet while simultaneously playing guitar. Their self-described "death country" sound proved that "banjo" doesn't have to be a dirty word.

The main set culminated with the explosive and infectious "Write It All Down For You", the crowd clapping and "Hey! Hey! Hey!"-ing along, before they took a request from the crowd for a song that they rarely play live, "Twill", which broke down into a psychedelic jam with Casey down on the stage coaxing his guitar that left the band -- and the audience -- spent.

But of course they couldn't end there, and were back out for one more: the perfect song to wrap up any show, "Miss You Now", with the remaining crowd gathered and some final singing along to the beautiful tune.

In all, it was a pretty great weekend of music in a gorgeous setting. I don't think I will ever tire of seeing Arkells play live, Elliott BROOD was as good as ever, and Hey Ocean! always put on a fun show. And even though the Labour Day Weekend weather wasn't as cooperative as it could have been the whole weekend, the rain was nice enough to hold off almost entirely in the late afternoon/early evenings while the music was going.
If next year's Summer Send-Off is comparable, I would definitely be interested in heading up again.

Arkells setlist
Fake Money, Come To Light, The Ballad of Hugo Chavez, Michigan Left, 11:11, Oh The Bos is Coming, Pulling Punches, Kiss Cam, Never Thought That This Would Happen, Dirty Blonde, On Paper, My Girl [The Temptations cover] Leather Jacket, Cynical Bastard, Whistleblower.
(encore) Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours [Stevie Wonder cover], John Lennon.

Hey Ocean! setlist
If I Were A Ship, I Am A Heart, New Love, Islands, Jolene, A Song About California, I Wanna Be Your Lover [Prince cover], Be My Baby [The Ronettes cover], Change, Sleepwalking, Liar, Maps, Steady, Big Blue Wave, Make A New Dance Up.

Elliott BROOD setlist
[new song?], Oh Alberta, Without Again, Second Son, Wolfgang, Northern Air, Johnny Rooke, Chuckwagon, The Bridge, If I Get Old, [new song], Lindsay, Old Dan Tucker [traditional], The Banjo Song, The Valley Town, Write It All Down For You, Twill.
(encore) Miss You Now

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