Hillside Day 3 – The Belle Game, Royal Canoe, Basia Bulat & More

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Workshop: Marmalade Skies (Lake Stage, 11AM)

The Hillside Sunday Gospel Session has the power to make even the staunchest non-believers believe in something, anything. This year’s country-blues lineup of Elephant Revival, Red Moon Road, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, and Spirit Family Reunion was hard to pass up, but we instead opted to start our morning at the Lake Stage with Hey Rosetta! and Royal Canoe. We quickly felt good about our decision, when after one song each, they decided to do something a little bit different and treated us to B-sides from The Beatles’ Abbey Road. Something about Hey Rosetta!’s joyous enthusiasm and Royal Canoe’s rhythmic experimentalism infused into “Here Comes the Sun” and “You Never Give Me Your Money” awoke the flower children within the crowd and the tent quickly transformed into one massive happy dance floor. One of my most favourite moments I’ve experienced in the three years I’ve attended the festival, this workshop will be a “Remember when…??” for years to come.

HILLSIDE: Marmalade Skies Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Marmalade Skies Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Marmalade Skies Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Marmalade Skies Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Marmalade Skies Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Marmalade Skies Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Marmalade Skies Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14


Workshop: Room Full of Mirrors (Lake Stage, 12PM)

The next workshop featured Toronto bands Born Ruffians and Culture Reject. Joking that since they had just met for the first time that morning and hadn’t planned anything specific for their workshop, they would just go ahead and play Side One of Abbey Road. Giving a teaser of “Come Together,” Born Ruffians instead launched into “Hedonistic Me.” Culture Reject’s lo-fi nature blended well with Born Ruffians’ more youthful poppiness as they traded songs back and forth. Still managing to do something different, the bands called up a girl from the audience to “DJ” a mash-up of two of their songs – she directed when each band should fade out or increase their volume. After a bit of a slow start, Laura got the hang of the experiment and it turned out to be a pretty fun moment. Another highlight was a stripped down countrified version of Born Ruffians’ “Permanent Hesitation” that was quite simply, magical.

HILLSIDE: Room Full of Mirrors Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Room Full of Mirrors Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Room Full of Mirrors Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14


Seryn (Main Stage, 12:40PM)

Unable to pass up ice cream from Mapleton Organic Dairy, we grabbed cones (mine was Dandelion-Ginger) and headed to see some of Seryn. Their light and fresh harmonies dazzled in the early afternoon and were a great addition to the Main Stage.

HILLSIDE: Seryn @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Seryn @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Seryn @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Seryn @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14


Workshop: If I Was Your Girlfriend (Lake Stage, 1PM)

Keeping with the theme of the workshop, Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs and Folly & The Hunter sang about the heady feeling of summer romances, getting drunk and trying to kiss girls. Cash’s rough-around-the-edges voice made you feel as if you were just hanging out on his front stoop, drinking beer and listening to him play tunes.

HILLSIDE: If I Was Your Girlfriend Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: If I Was Your Girlfriend Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: If I Was Your Girlfriend Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: If I Was Your Girlfriend Workshop @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14


Ought (Island Stage, 2:40PM)

Montreal’s Ought had been getting some buzz around Toronto and came highly heralded by Vish Khanna, who introduced their set, so I was excited to get to check them out. The crowd heeded Khanna’s introduction and were on their feet right from the start. Despite the clever and catchy lyrics of anthemic “Today More Than Any Other Day” that made the activities of everyday life seem exciting and its frenetic chant of “Today, Together!”, much of the remainder of their melodic and mod post-punk set felt sleepy and droning. Maybe it was going into their set with too high of expectations but I wasn’t immediately blown away and walked out having expected more. This band might require a repeat visit just to be sure. If you want to hear for yourself, check out their album Today More Than Any Other Day, out on Constellation Records. Ought will be in Toronto on September 9, at Hard Luck.

On a side note, Khanna’s son Levon was once again spotted side stage at Ought, sporting a homemade guitar he had fashioned at one of the kids’ activities. And let me just say, whatever band this kid ends up being in fifteen years from now, is one that you’ll want to be listening to.

HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14
HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Ought @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14


Basia Bulat (Main Stage, 3:50PM)

Two-time Polaris Prize short-lister Basia Bulat began with just her ukelele as accompaniment, before delving into a set of delightful folk-pop, switching between guitar, keys, and autoharp. Her voice was positively enchanting, luring us all in like a siren, and earning declarations of undying love from men in the crowd. She has really come into her own since I last saw her during the “Oh, My Darling” days. But she was still the darling with the smile on her face, happy just to be on stage playing music to people.

Blithe and uptempo “Gold Rush” may have not inspired a mosh pit this time (as it apparently did once in Dawson City) but reaching back into the catalogue for “Snakes and Ladders” instilled some long, deep sighs of contentment, from this girl at least. Bulat then stretched herself into the dance-pop realm with newer track “Wires,” flitting about the stage to rev up the audience. While it’s always interesting to see an artist try something different, the song felt slightly too pop-princess for my tastes, too far removed from the essence of what she is. She closed her set with title track “Tall Tall Shadow,” offering a final reminder of exactly why this album is Polaris shortlisted. Watch out for Basia Bulat when the winner is announced September 22.

HILLSIDE: Basia Bulat @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Basia Bulat @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Basia Bulat @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Basia Bulat @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Basia Bulat @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14


Royal Canoe (Lake Stage, 5PM)

Playing their third set of the weekend, the rhythmic weirdness of Winnipeg six-piece Royal Canoe had everyone on their weary feet and grooving right away. Masters of electro-instrumentation and elaborate percussion, the set continuously shape-shifted, offering the crowd something new which each song. Light as air “Hold Onto the Metal” transitioned into the sunny dream-pop of “Exodus of the Year,” which then morphed into the funky soul of “Birthday” before shifting into “Bathtubs” with its mix of sparkling keys, bell tolls and heavy vocal distortions. Regardless of what they were throwing at the audience, “today, we were all believers” in Royal Canoe.

HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14
HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: Royal Canoe @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14


The Belle Game (Island Stage, 6:40PM)

Vancouver’s The Belle Game was up next. Shrouded in darkness and mystery, vocalist Andrea Lo’s operatic range broke through “River” like bright beams of light while perky keys permeated the forlorn filminess of “Wasted Light.” Some pretty nasty feedback plagued much of their set but with vocalist Lo’s hypnotic voice at the helm, they managed to salvage their time on stage and weave a still-stunning cinematic opus.

HILLSIDE: The Belle Game @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: The Belle Game @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: The Belle Game @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: The Belle Game @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14 HILLSIDE: The Belle Game @ Guelph Lake Island, 27-07-14


Severe weather rolled in as crowds started to pack into the Island Stage in anticipation of supergroup Mounties (featuring Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat, Hawksley Workman, and Ryan Dahle of Limblifter). Hillside staff put all programming on hold in hopes of waiting out the storm. Moods could have turned sour but in true Hillside fashion, instead spontaneous singalongs broke out, everything from “Bohemian Rhapsody” to “Don’t Stop Believing.” Unfortunately the decision was finally made to cancel the rest of the night missing out on Born Ruffians and Hey Rosetta!, among others. It was disappointing of course, but festival volunteers made sure everyone made it to their campsites or got to their car, bikes, or the downtown shuttle and off the conservation grounds safely.

Until next year, Hillside!

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Categories: Hillside 2014

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