It was team Ride the Tempo’s first Field Trip this year, regrettably missing out on last year’s due to conflicting schedule with something else. This year we had the opportunity to enjoy it as patrons and not have to run around making photo calls. It allowed us to take in all the festival was about: the food, the creativity, fun and oh of course, music.
This year, it wasn’t as heavily focused on Arts & Crafts roster, but some of the talent did stem from family labels like Pirate’s Blend.
Day 1 began relatively relaxed, with patrons still only trickling when it was time for Maylee Todd to come on. The songstress impressed everyone who was there with her unique style of music and choreographed dancers dressed in white. Things got funkier, as the Toronto-bred singer ended the song ‘Baby’s Got It’ with a choreographed backward ass jiggle. The chuckles in the crowd changed to awed silence, as Todd showed off her vocal prowess with the heart-wrenching ballad ‘I Tried’. Not a bad start to the festivities.
Following was the endearing Megan Bonnell who played beautiful tunes from her recent release Hunt and Chase. Last seen in more of an intimate setting, Bonnell’s enigmatic voice carried well in the open space among the ‘sun kissed and hydrated’ attentive bunch. Dressed in her usual elegant black, Bonnell’s somber sounds paired up well with my chilled beer in the company of some light breeze and pleasant people.
Over at The Garrison Commons Stage, Austra delighted with their unique blend of dark electropop. The overpowering bass, at times distracting, was drowning out everything, including Katie Stelmanis’ operatic vocals. It was THAT overpowering. The crowd, battling the breeze-less afternoon sun, was mostly still for the set, much to chagrin of the outspoken front woman, who preceded ‘Lose it’ with ‘you can dance to this if you want to’. And they did.
Making the decision between seeing Half Moon Run or Shad was a difficult one but the two of us split up and were both happy with our choices.
Half Moon Run, for us , has been on the “must see” list for a while. Missing them at CMW opening for City & Colour meant seeing their short set Saturday was a must. The raw emotion of the four-piece performing tracks from their uber-successful debut Dark Eyes is worth the price of admission. The delicious three-part harmonies and Conner Molander’s untamable hair were bonuses. The band threw in some new material as well, before ending the set with crowd singalong heavy “Full Circle”.
The twice Polaris nominated Shad delivered his fast-paced witty rap, which the audience was totally into. I always think it’s kind of funny that his music essentially comments on the type of people that are at this show.
On the other stage, Lord Huron began their set with that song you’ve probably heard on a Moosehead commercial. The L.A based indie-folk band has ridden the wave of folk resurgence, and have filled the void of Mumford’s hiatus. While the band’s instrumentality was tight, the dreamy harmonies heard on tracks from Lonesome Dreams didn’t execute as well. Ben Schneider and co stayed fairly mellow for the set, only picking up the intensity for set closers ‘She Lit a Fire’ and a folk’n roll outro for ‘Time To Run’.
People seemed to really dig Vance Joy, especially when he played that one song that heavily rotates on Indie88. Kevin Drew who followed showed his disdain for beach balls in between performing his new solo tunes. Even if you didn’t know the words to his songs from his solo works, Drew’s banter in between songs are equally entertaining.
Closing the Fort York Stage for Day 1 was A Tribe Called Red. The recent JUNO winning trio of Aboriginal Canadian DJs spun a well-blended mix of instrumental hip-hop, reggae and the noted ‘powwow-step’ style of dubstep set to First Nation chants and percussion. The video screen in the background ran a loop of various vintage First Nations footage, some animated, and portion of Michael Jackson’s ‘Black & White’ music video. A memorable highlight was a group lesson & performance of the noted Rain Dance to end the set. Rumour has it that it did play a role in gloomy conditions the following day.
The Kills killed it on the main stage with front-woman Alison Mosshart being a delight to watch. The great thing about this festival is that even if you were far off in the distance getting food, you could still hear the music from the closest stage fairly well. The two stages were also isolated enough so that if you were at Fort York, you couldn’t hear the stage at the Garrison Commons.
For a festival hosted by Arts & Crafts, Interpol was sort of a strange headliner considering nobody seems to remember what they have put out over the past 7 years. A lot of people however, could agree to liking them years ago. Thoughts of “oh yeah, I know this song” were had throughout the set. It was a strange ending to an otherwise great day.