I’m going to preface this by saying that being sick sucks, and what sucks even more is being sick and not being able to see a lot more of the wonderful acts that played Bloor Ossington Folk Festival 2015. That said, the acts I did see held their ground very well, playing tunes that I totally bobbed my head to.
Crooked House Road
Oh, how I wish I could do the hand signals that go along with introducing this band. Toronto’s own Crooked House Road made a mandolin their own version of the SNL cowbell. Playing tracks like “Racin’,” which sounds great with its blues bass, and “Devil’s Backbone,” a folk rendition that sounds fantastic with distortion, the band kicked off the festival. “Mountain,” a song with personal meaning to the lead vocalist, Shaina Silver-Baird, was one of those tunes that really got the audience in the moment, especially with its solos and charisma.
I absolutely loved this Vancouver band’s bass. What Copilots brought was a very palatable alt-rock sound that was neither intense or mellow–they played their long songs just right to keep the night going. It’s really nice that their sound could be sludgy or garage punk-like if they wanted to have it that way. That kind of musical flexibility should be something the band prides themselves for. At one point in their set, I was reminded of the New Brunswick band Eric’s Trip. Any band that can do that deserves a pat on the back.
The Idaho Stop
It should be a sin to say that bands that cleanly harmonize sound like the Beatles, but I can’t help it! I got that vibe from the first act on the Saturday bill. They had some trumpeting along with a ballad and a song about a white bicycle. Their solos were nice and I felt some Latin-influence sounds here and there. Though the audience was minimal, The Idaho Stop played with heart for those that were willing to receive it. The skies were grey, and feeling for a good mood was hard, yet the players kept on playing.
I really wanted to reassure this guy that he was doing more than fine! With just a laptop, a guitar, and his larger than life voice, Chris Ladd played well, implementing a timbre that I could only describe as ghastly. The winds were blowing heavily and in my head I believed that the tent would crash down on listeners. Despite this, Ladd was a trooper that carried on with his stellar solos and snazzy performance.
Nick Ferrio & His Feelings
Nick Ferrio had southern flair to his feelings, and that kind of twang and Louisiana flavour was something different from the previous acts seen. The group played in front of the Markham House, dealing with passersby looking at what to do while on the street. Nick Ferrio & His Feelings won a lot of the attention, even before Julie Doiron decided to come and collaborate.
Construction & Destruction
The band’s Facebook page describes Construction & Destruction’s sound as “Spinning spook rock yarns…” and I think that’s an appropriate string of words when dealing with this, dare I say, experimental group. The duo switched between drums, bass, electric guitar, and vocals, each showing a finesse that was effortless and professional. On one song, they could be hazy and exuding punk, while on another, they can sound like Emma Ruth Rundle. I think that the band should be proud of the fact that they reminded me of the insane band Mr. Bungle, if Bungle were tone three dials down. The rain was pouring heavily, but there was a lot of emotion in the Beau’s tent when this band played.
I honestly wish that I could’ve seen more acts. Riot Fest and TURF were going on at the same time, yet I wanted the atmosphere of BOFF to settle me down, especially with the idea that Julie Doiron would close the festival off.
Hoping that BOFF 2016 will be great. Bring sacrifices and sun dances to stop the rain, I guess!