May Run Music Festival was a huge hit – but nothing came close to topping the closing day. Not only were festival-goers treated to an absolutely fantastic pop show, but the closing songwriter’s circle was one of the best I’ve seen.

Island songwriters were paired with songwriters from across Canada: Tim Chaisson with Jay Semko (of the Northern Pikes), Meaghan Blanchard with Albertan Tim Hus, Dennis Ellsworth with Ontario’s Donovan Woods, and Ashley Condon with the Small Glories from Manitoba. Each duo composed an original song, which they shared at the showcase. The songs were fantastic – and knowing that they were created in under a day… well it’s just extraordinary.

The closing pop concert was spectacular – and was just a taste of the surprisingly rich music scene that PEI is becoming known for. The lineup included local favourites and guests from away.

The Meds Charlottetown PEI

The concert got off to a great start with Charlottetown’s own The Meds, who shared a handful of youthful pop-rock songs with a steadily-growing audience. The group earned the Music PEI award for Rock Recording of the Year with their 2014 release South America – check it out on SoundCloud.

Paper Lions Charlottetown PEI

Prince Edward Island indie rockers Paper Lions played a quick set of fan favourites from My Friends and the debut of a bouncy new song, ‘Believer’, which features the soaring melodies that the band is known for. Their set was energetic and so much fun – ending on a high note as front-man John MacPhee made his rounds during an extended chorus of ‘My Friend’.

Dan Mangan Charlottetown PEI

Vancouver’s Dan Mangan made a solo appearance with an acoustic set reminiscent of his earlier folk-rock work. Fans were notably surprised to see him in this simplified setting, particularly with the success of Dan Mangan + Blacksmith. Mangan’s powerful vocals and exceptionally emotional lyrics left the audience asking for more after his short set.

Coyote Charlottetown PEI

Island rockers Coyote brought the energy with their exciting, electric songs. With three Music PEI awards for Group Recording, Pop Recording, and Video of the Year, this is surely a group to watch. Their set featured songs from their 2014 release, Proof of Life, and was as fun as the record itself. My favourite track, ‘Your House’, is just an example of the catchy enthusiasm that this band brings – check out Proof of Life on bandcamp.

Plants and Animals Charlottetown PEI

Plants and Animals came all the way from Montreal to share a spirited rock set filled with building instrumentals that explode into break-out jams. Their set passed in the blink of an eye and despite not knowing any of their songs, I became an immediate fan. Their showmanship is fantastic; Warren Spicer’s vocals were clear and concise, while the band provided huge rock moments that kept fans on their feet.

Stars Charlottetown PEI

Everyone knows Montreal’s STARS. I’ve been a fan of the synth-pop group since university and but have never seen them all the way out here on the East Coast. So it was pretty fantastic to see them as the headliner for the May Run Festival. They took the stage to a packed audience, with Islander Kinley Dowling (of Hey Rosetta!) joining them on violin for a few numbers. Honestly, this was a night to remember.

Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan provided the ethereal vocals that fans are accustomed to, but the show also featured plenty of fantastic synth, bass, guitar, and drums to contribute to the full soundscape. They played a pile of fan favourites, including ‘Take me to the Riot’, ‘Dead Hearts’, ‘We Don’t Want Your Body’, and about a dozen more. It was fantastic; they were fantastic. The audience went away satisfied after a beautiful rendition of ‘Calendar Girl’.

What a night.