Hillside Day 2: Hollerado, PUP, Bry Webb & More

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Workshop: The First Days are the Hardest (Island Stage, 11AM)

The first days can be the hardest, but not when they begin with a workshop featuring Winnipeg’s Royal Canoe and Seryn from Denton, Texas. With six people in each band, the stage was overflowing with musicians as they joined in on one another’s songs.

Seryn wowed with super bright harmonies layered over ukelele, violin, and whimsical folky vibes. Royal Canoe’s complex experimentalism isn’t the easiest to just join in on but Seryn made grand attempts for “Kaleidoscope” and “Bathtubs,” which came with the warning that “it’s all over the place.” They ended with a “dancey jig to use your dancing muscles and bones,” making sure we got in our morning exercise for the day ahead. Combined with my re-energizing earthy green smoothie from Nature’s Nurturing (“it tastes like plants!”), it was a great start to the day!

HILLSIDE: The First Days are the Hardest Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: The First Days are the Hardest Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: The First Days are the Hardest Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: The First Days are the Hardest Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: The First Days are the Hardest Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


Stella Ella Ola (Lake Stage, 12PM)

Early festival-goers got to check out Toronto’s Stella Ella Ola. Fronted by Anne Douris (vocals, guitar) with Hollerado Boyd brothers Nick (guitar, vocals) and Jake (bass, vocals), the band brought everything that’s good about summer to life as they hammered out a set of free-spirited classic garage pop. Drummer Vince Rice was ill but Young Rival’s Noah Fralick proved to be a worthy replacement. It was obvious they were having a blast on stage and had people bopping away, especially to the infectious “Summerette” and “Donna.”

If you haven’t checked out their debut album I Think We Should Hang Out All the Time yet, well, welcome to your new summer soundtrack.

HILLSIDE: Stella Ella Ola @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Stella Ella Ola @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Stella Ella Ola @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Stella Ella Ola @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Stella Ella Ola @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Stella Ella Ola @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Stella Ella Ola @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


Folly & The Hunter (Main Stage, 12:40PM)

After getting ice cream sandwiches from The Pop Stand for lunch (bourbon-dulce de leche ice cream between brown butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!), we devoured them to the tune of pretty Montreal folk from Folly & The Hunter. There was even a couple in the audience moving to the melodies, with some graceful lyrical slow dancing that was a joy to behold.

Getting ready to head to Toronto to record their third album following the festival, they previewed some new material and expressed their thanks for Hillside being the exact form of stress-relief they needed. It’s always great when musicians come to the festival for the first time and quickly understand what a treasure it is.

HILLSIDE: Folly and the Hunter @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Folly and the Hunter @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Folly and the Hunter @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


Red Moon Road (Main Stage, 1:45PM)

Winnipeg’s Red Moon Road, has beat the Canadian highways, touring from coast to coast multiple time, yet this was somehow our first time seeing them (not counting the night before). The trio boasts two handsome mustachioed Dan’s – Daniel Johnson (vocals, guitar, bass drum) and Daniel Peloquin-Hopfner (vocals, mandolin, banjo, guitar) – along with lead vocalist Sheena Rattai.

I wasn’t completely sold on the band during their Friday night workshop, but enjoyed them immensely more this time around. Their storytelling banter detailed the backstory behind each richly woven folk song as they plucked their way into the crowd’s hearts. The Dans’ psychedelic prog-rock and jazz influences added welcome layers to their roots rock. Highlights of the set included “Mighty Glad You Came,” which stole the melody from the White Throated Sparrow and showed off the operatic lilt to Rattai’s voice, as well as “Private Love,” a deep country track about bikers. They even pulled out kazoos at one point. You can’t really go wrong with a song that has a kazoo solo.

HILLSIDE: Red Moon Road @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Red Moon Road @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Red Moon Road @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Red Moon Road @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar (Island Stage, 2PM)

We managed to catch the last bit of Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar’s set as we got to the Island Stage. Filled with the gusto of blues and soul, Martin’s mighty voice was breathtaking as she took on Sharon Jones’ “Mama Don’t Like My Man.”

HILLSIDE: Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


DIANA (Island Stage, 3PM)

Toronto’s DIANA brought synthily atmospheric tones thickly textured with deep bass. Groovy sax gave smooth yacht rock-esque undertones to set opener (and album title track) “Perpetual Surrender.” The rest of their set drifted on with washed out synths and the sound of ethereal pulsating raindrops as showers began to fall outside the safety of the tent. There were some feedback issues to contend with, but that didn’t deter them.

Frontwoman Carmen Elle is such an enigma. Her voice powerful yet filled with soft and girlish charm. Having seen Elle recently belting out garage rock tunes with Army Girls, the contrast between projects – and her ability to front each with ease – was astounding.

HILLSIDE: DIANA @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: DIANA @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: DIANA @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: DIANA @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: DIANA @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: DIANA @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: DIANA @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


Bry Webb & The Providers (Main Stage, 4:05PM)

Bry Webb & The Providers’ quiet, minimalist folk has such great presence in live performances, and it was such a treat to get to see them on the Main Stage. Webb’s humble modesty shone through on songs like the languishing love song “Lowlife,” which was dedicated to his wife for their six-year anniversary, though he wasn’t afraid to turn the grittiness up a few extra notches for “Ex-Punks.”

The set focused heavily on older material from Provider, though we did get to hear “AM Blues” from this spring’s Free Will. The subtle strains of Aaron Goldstein’s pedal steel and Rich Burnett’s lap steel floated out on the gentle breeze, and while I can’t state this as proven scientific fact, I’m pretty sure their combined loveliness summoned the sun to finally reappear from its hiding place behind the clouds. The majesty of Bry Webb and his Providers may have however almost been outshone by sights of his son Asa and fellow Guelph resident, Vish Khanna’s son Levon running around and dancing together side stage. It’s those feel-good family-friendly moments that really make Hillside the special oasis that it is.

HILLSIDE: Bry Webb & The Providers @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Bry Webb & The Providers @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Bry Webb & The Providers @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Bry Webb & The Providers @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Bry Webb & The Providers @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Bry Webb & The Providers @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Bry Webb & The Providers @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


Spirit Family Reunion (Lake Stage, 6PM)

Sometimes you know you are going to be into a band you’ve never heard of the second they walk on stage. Spirit Family Reunion came out with a banjo, upright bass, and a washboard (played with various utensils), and we instantly knew we’d be in for a good time. It’s even better when you get to witness an entire tent fall in love with a band, almost all at the exact same second. It took a while, but by their second-to-last song, the New Yorkers’ foot-stomping good old-time Americana melodies and passionate group vocals had won everyone over. Laying down their worries and their cares, the seated crowd got up on their feet to dance to “When My Name is Spoken” and then joyfully joined in to sing along to closer “I’ll Find A Way.” It was magical.

Spirit Family Reunion will be in Toronto on September 16, supporting Trampled by Turtles at The Phoenix!

HILLSIDE: Spirit Family Reunion @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Spirit Family Reunion @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Spirit Family Reunion @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Spirit Family Reunion @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Spirit Family Reunion @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Spirit Family Reunion @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Spirit Family Reunion @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


San Fermin (Island Stage, 7PM)

We moved over to the Island Stage to settle in for the rest of the night. First up was San Fermin, a massive eight-piece band out of Brooklyn. Their funky baroque, brass-filled orchestral sound boasted massive energy and a whole lot of soul. To top it off was an interesting meld of passionate back and forth vocals between Allen Tate’s deep-bodied baritone and Charlene Kaye’s feminine trill.

Capturing the spirit of the Spanish San Fermin festival that includes parades, fireworks, and the famous “running of the bulls” event, the band’s set melded rolling crescendos punctuated with blasts of brass. Even when songs felt like they were going in multiple directions, their set always felt cohesive rather than chaotic. The tremendous “Sonsick” was a favourite, as well as new song “Parasites” that even introduced some hoedown elements thanks to the violin before delving into a sax solo. They ended with a cover of The Strokes’ “Heart in a Cage.”

HILLSIDE: San Fermin @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: San Fermin @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: San Fermin @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: San Fermin @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: San Fermin @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


Rubblebucket (Island Stage, 8PM)

When I first heard the band name Rubblebucket, I may have immediately thought of k-os’ “Crabbuckit.” They don’t actually sound like that. The Brooklyn seven-piece was instead an immensely energetic big band meets dance troupe. They transformed the Island Stage tent into what felt like a circus Big Top with their mass of brass (saxophone, trombone, horns), flutes, and choreographed dance moves to boot. Plus lead vocalist Kalmia Traver was just out of this world kooky. Their bucket of fun set was filled with a lot of wacky antics that luckily added to rather than detracted from the overall experience. While we Canadians typically associate parachutes at shows with Rich Aucoin, when Rubblebucket pulled one out, the crowd was only too willing to join in on the childlike activity.The hand puppet who always seems to be front and centre at every single Hillside set managed to make its way onto Traver’s hand. And if that wasn’t enough, a space helmet may have ended up on her head at one point as well.

While I’m not likely to listen to Rubblebucket on record, I now know that if I want a guaranteed party, to go see them live the next time they are around these parts.

HILLSIDE: Rubblebucket @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Rubblebucket @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Rubblebucket @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Rubblebucket @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Rubblebucket @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Rubblebucket @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Rubblebucket @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


PUP (Island Stage, 9PM)

As Toronto pop-punkers PUP were setting up, a fleet of festival security guards entered and staunchly took their stance at the front of the stage for crowd control purposes. That was the first indication of what we were in for. The band came on wielding brash ferocity. While Hillside is known as a family-friendly folk event filled with “motherfucking hippie” vibes, they didn’t hold anything back. A relentless onslaught of sweat and screams from frontman Stefan Babcock, it was total and complete annihilation. They fully blew the roof off that tent and left nothing but burning rubble. And the crowd responded, pushing forward to catapult off the stage. We could easily have been in a dingy dive bar, with security working overtime to keep the crowds from fully crashing the stage. They ended with the pummeling attack of “Reservoir” before then launching into a cover of The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” that saw Babcock joining in on the crowd-surfing.

We’ve seen a ton of PUP shows, but this one was right up there in terms of intensity and number of crowd-surfers. It was a set that Hillsiders won’t soon forget, memories lasting long after their bruises fade.

HILLSIDE: PUP @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: PUP @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: PUP @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: PUP @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: PUP @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: PUP @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: PUP @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14


Hollerado (Island Stage, 10PM)

Stuck with the task of picking up the pieces PUP left behind was Toronto’s Hollerado. Hollerado is always an excellent choice to end a night with because you leave in the happiest of moods, so despite having seen the band a few weeks prior at TURF, we stuck around the Island Stage to see them again. The crowd was “ole”-ing with excitement before they even started, and this party mood continued with ample shots of confetti and doses of mood-inducing anthems like “Fake Drugs” and “So It Goes.” It was an entertaining finish to such a fun-filled day!

HILLSIDE: Hollerado @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Hollerado @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Hollerado @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Hollerado @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Hollerado @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Hollerado @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14 HILLSIDE: Hollerado @ Guelph Lake Island, 26-07-14

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Categories: Hillside 2014

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