Written by Nilabjo Banerjee & Tiana Feng
The sun beamed down heavily on Day 2 of TURF at Fort York Garrison Commons. But that was okay, there was plenty to stay hydrated including free Nestea, coconut water, and plain water. We also discovered the wonderful free pizza truck.
The day began intimately with Nashville bred folk-country songstress, Caitlin Rose singing songs about getting married in Vegas and drinking. Despite being drowned out by the band in the louder songs, Rose’s resonating vocals carried through in the quieter ballads. The fairly lackadaisical bunch gathered at the hill responded favourably to the Americana sounds of the set that also included covers by The National and The Felix Brothers. You would like her even if you don’t like country.
Over on the East stage, New Country Rehab played some feet stompin ‘modernized country’ tunes. Starting with a killer Hank Williams cover, the other songs in the set were delightfully paired with compelling backstories such as playing for 3 people in an Idaho bar that had a crazy owner. If that didn’t impress the early birds in the crowd, the relishing harmonies and the brilliant musicality of these seasoned session musicians left a lasting impression.
Back on the South stage, 7 piece band Old Man Markley fused together both punk and folk worlds in a highly energetic set. Not to mention they broke out things like washboards, fiddles, autoharp and more. They may be named after an old fella, but these seniors (not really, they’re relatively young) can get you grooving.
The folksy vibe at TURF continued with Shovels and Rope, the American husband-wife duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. The sizeable crowd loved the alt-country sounds blending folk, rock and some blues for good measure. The contrasting personas of the couple, abrasive Hearst and the sheepish Trent, reflected in the blissful harmonies, a distinct sound of the band. The duo played the oldies like “The Devil is All Around” and “O’Be Joyful”, threw in material from the upcoming August release as well and fittingly worked in Violent Femmes’ “Kiss Off” too. No two people have ever sounded this good!
Andrew Jackson Jihad was one of the more out-of-place acts to take on the south stage Saturday, but nobody gave a fuck. They had plenty of fans singing along to their witty folk-punk tunes that were both raw and quite silly. The setlist included may songs from their latest album Christmas Island and Knife Man. Fans heard their favourites including “Temple Grandin”, “American Tune”, “People II 2: Still Peoplin”, “Love Will Fuck Us Apart” and “If You Have Love In Your Heart”
Nova Scotia was TURF-ing with The Stanfields over at the south stage. Their blend of hard rock with East-coast celtic flavours got those standing up (instead of seated on the hill) to start moving around right away. Singing tales of fighting, romancin and drug dealing, the Halifax five-piece never held back in the ‘intensity’ department, especially Jon Landry’s unwavering harsh vocals. The acoustic ballad “Up The Mountain” was an unexpected delight, as it finished with a capella harmonies.
Back on the West stage, the reunited Violent Femmes began by playing the most of their debut album front to back. The summer season was so perfect for this set, for older people reliving younger days and for the more youthful crowd to learn about the classics. They also included “I Held Her In My Arms” which reminds some of Santa Claus is coming to town. Now you’ll never be able to unhear that. I don’t know what that National Post article was talking about but people around me were certainly not mellow and singing their heart out.
Over on the East end, punk-rock nostalgia was in full form as fellas from The Gaslight Anthem took stage. With a catalogue of 4 impressive albums, Brian Fallon and crew threw in some new material from the upcoming Get Hurt release as well. Fallon revered TURF mates Violent Femmes for having no misses, fitting coming from the frontman of a band who can be lauded with the same title. The four-piece sounded effortlessly cohesive as usual, because GA sounding subpar is an unimagined possibility.
The ‘always fun and jolly’ Strumbellas played to a packed hill, where (thankfully) most were in the mood to do some dancing. Playing mostly from the fittingly titled We Still Move on Dance Floors, the six-piece were in their usual jovial self. Dave had a ‘Straight Outta Toronto’ shirt with his own face on it. That man has a mighty sense of humour for someone with a PhD. The crowd sing-along during “Sailing” to the backdrop of the setting sun and light Lakeshore breeze was a blissful moment. This band deserves the recent acclaim and so much more.
In contrast to apocalyptic stormy conditions back home, Newfoundland’s Hey Rosetta! played a delightful set amidst the early evening serenity. The earlier portion of the set was more of Seeds and Into your Lungs. The band debuted new material from the upcoming Second Sight, where early impressions indicated the general sound of the band shifting away from strings and more to the alt-rock end of the spectrum. Given the track record of previous works, the East Coast band is evolving the right way.
Montreal bred Can-rock luminary Sam Roberts was the closer for the Day 2, and he delivered a knockout (a strikeout?! .. baseball analogy?). Running through the hits of an impeccable catalogue of 6 albums over 14 years, Roberts and co successfully duplicated the brilliance in the records onto the main stage. The crowd reciprocated Robert’s energy with consistent sing alongs, sometimes drowning the bearded singer during certain choruses. Amidst the gentle night breeze, light aura of second hand pot and beautiful Toronto crowd, Roberts capped off Day 2 in TURF in the best way possible.
However, there was still one more act left on the South stage and California’s Joyce Manor kept things punk and if there were to be any noise complaints from the nearby apartments, it would be now. As I left the festival, I saw a man outside the gates drumming on buckets with Manor’s set. If there’s one thing that that dude knew, was that TURF is not just a music festival you watch, it’s one that you take part in and experience.
Check out the slideshow below for more TURF Day 2 photos!