by Tiana Feng
Harlan Pepper @ The Big Smoke Fest 2013
Last night I braved the cold weather to check out day 1 of second installment of The Big Smoke Festival at Tall Boys Craft Beer House. The first night was an alt country/folk night and Harlan Pepper, Graydon James and the Young Novelists and Paula Perri were the acts of the night.

The event was held in a tent behind Tall House. It was pretty cold and there were only a few heaters around to keep things warm. I was standing right beside one, but my toes still ended up frozen. Heads up to anyone going over the weekend, wear plenty of clothes.

Paula Perri @ The Big Smoke Fest 01/24/2013
Anyways, Paula Perri began the night. Her keyboardist Alex Dodd was also in Graydon James and the Young Novelists. Paula sang some beautiful love songs (sometimes passive aggressive ones) and created an atmosphere that felt like she was performing to friends. She wasn’t afraid to let out f-bombs comfortably on stage. She even covered Martha Wainright’s “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole”.

Graydon James and the Young Novelists @ The Big Smoke Fest 01/24/2013
Following her was Graydon James and the Young Novelists. I always seem to see them exactly a year apart which is pretty convenient because there was new material in the mix. Their featured more vocals from their female vocalist Laura Sphinx. They worked up a frenzy and eventually removed some of their clothing, well, their jackets.

Harlan Pepper @ The Big Smoke Fest 2013
Headlining the night was Hamilton’s Harlan Pepper. The last time I had heard from them was 2 years ago with the release of Young and Old. While the majority of their set was from that album, there were some new tunes. The boys may look like they are 16, but they know how to rock out alt country style. Harmonicaing was even involved. The night ended with them walking around to the bar of the tent playing one another’s guitars.

Here’s a video from last night of Harlan Pepper playing one of our favourites, “Great Lakes” from their album.