by Mark Anthony Brennan
Again I started off my day at Royal Athletic Park, first witnessing the Airborne Toxic Event’s contamination of the air with their catchy brand of indie folk-rock before heading over to watch Dum Dum Girls under the tent. Technically, things got off to a shaky start as the vocals were too low in the mix and there were some feedback issues. The sound problems were eventually sorted out but the band still took a while to get their mojo going, but once they did they were on top of their game showing off the slicker sound they’ve adopted with their latest album ‘Too True’. Front woman Dee Dee Penny made no attempt to engage in any banter with the crowd, only muttering the occasional “thank you”. However, this demure and aloof persona is as much a part of the band’s act as their all-black clothing and red lipstick. Penny did break character at the very end when she flashed the briefest of smiles.
Next was one of the headline acts, the New Pornographers. Neko Case was notably awol, but a band that boasts the two creative juggernauts, A C Newman and Dan Bejar, can get by without even her. Besides, the reason they brought Victoria native Kathryn Calder on board (nine years ago now) was to fill in for the often-absent Case, so no worries. TNP treated the more-or-less hometown crowd (close enough) to almost every track from their magnificent new album ‘Brill Bruisers’. Backed by a surprisingly tight band (given that they are hardly ever together) A C Newman carried most of the show. Dan Bejar had the amusing inclination to wander off stage when he didn’t have a singing part (which was most of the time), but he totally killed it when he trotted out to sing the showstopper, “War on the East Coast”.
English DJ, Rusko, then played some wobbly-bassed dubstep to a sea of waving arms, bouncing beach balls and marijuana smoke. A fitting way to round off the events at the Park, as the day slipped into evening.
I then headed over to the elegant Alix Goolden Performance Hall, a former church. First up was Windmills (Cory Myraas), a one-man experimental loop artist with a penchant for self-deprecation and mournful tunes. On his heels came the Montreal electro popster Mozart’s Sister (Caila Thompson-Hannant, who is actually originally from the West Coast). Her swooping vocals and idiosyncratic dance-hopping won over the respectful audience, but her synth pop rhythms were a tad hackneyed. More inventive tunes like “Salty Tear”, however, were quite memorable.
Kandle (Osborne) is another native Victorian who has relocated to Montreal. Her band, the Krooks, kicked things off with a nifty version of the James Bond theme before getting down to business providing top-notch backup to Kandle’s twangy brand of swampy indie folk and blues. She was clearly thrilled to be playing in front of her parents and a hometown crowd, and delivered a spirited performance that befitted the hallowed hall.
To cap off the evening I made a few quick stops, catching Calgary’s Napalmpom rock the beer-sodden Victoria Event Centre, Rick Aucoin’s audio/visual singalong at the Metro, and finally PS I Love You melting everyone’s face off at the jam-packed Copper Owl.