Hillside Reviews: The Super Friendz @ Island Stage – July 26, 2014

By Tom Beedham

The Super Friendz @ Island Stage - July 26, 2014. Photo: Tom Beedham

The Super Friendz @ Island Stage – July 26, 2014. Photo: Tom Beedham

“Thanks a lot everybody, we’re doing a workshop later tonight on grunge dynamics: ‘When You’re Mad It Gets Louder; When You’re Sad It Gets Quieter,’” Super Friendz bassist Charles Austin quipped after the band played the final notes of “Rescue Us From Boredom” at Hillside’s Island Stage yesterday afternoon.

To his left, guitarist Matt Murphy resembled some kind of indie superhero sporting a guitar strap improvised out of a Sled Island tote bag that didn’t look unlike a cape. Indeed, for the special part of the crowd eagerly assembled under the Island Stage tent specifically keen on catching the Halifax, Nova Scotia band’s only scheduled gig of the year, the Super Friendz definitely played the part.

Austin, Murphy, and Drew Yamada spent the 45-minute set democratically trading mic duties as they ran through the better half of 1995’s ‘Mock Up, Scale Down,’ and Murphy’s “cape” was just one of the blatant signifiers that spoke to the ongoing adaptable nature of the indie rock veterans, performing at Hillside 20 years after their formation.

“Never borrow a bass you don’t know,” Austin advised from behind a three-stringed loaner while Yamada cracked a smile.

Kieren Adams rounded things out filling in for drummer Dave Marsh directly after playing a half-hour set for his regular gig, DIANA, and there were a couple more cracks about Adams being “pooched,” but he did just fine managing Marsh’s kinetic Keith Moon vs. Topper Headon primitivism.

They were nearly rushed off the stage at the end of ‘Slide Show’ opener “Up and Running,” but they managed to swindle another two minutes out of the stage managers in order to wrap things up with a face melting guitar jam. The brevity of that performance and the set that contained it all served to highlight the fact that 20 years on, the Super Friendz are still capable of proving that you don’t need a big production or an arsenal of effects to make interesting guitar music: just grab whatever guitar you have lying around, play it loud, and make it work.

Setlist:
“Better Call”
“Come Clean”
“Rescue Us From Boredom”
“Girls and Their Boys”
“Fireflies”
“When They Paid Me”
“Undertow”
“Down In Flames”
“Karate Man”
“10 Lbs”
“Up and Running”

(Review originally published at HillsideFestival.ca)

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About Tom Beedham

Tom Beedham is a Canadian writer and photographer based in Toronto, Ontario. His work focuses on independent culture, DIY communities, and their relationship to the mainstream, reporting on a spectrum of creatives that has ranged from emerging acts to the definitive voices of cultural movements. In addition to contributing regular features to AUX, Chart Attack, and VICE publications Noisey and THUMP, he has appeared on Daily VICE, and frequently reviews concerts, festivals, and new album releases for Canadian arts and culture monthly Exclaim!. He is also a co-organizer and curator of the seasonal inter-arts series Long Winter, for which he oversees an online blog and print newspaper-style publication, printed for distribution at each instalment of the event. He was also a DIY concert organizer in his hometown Georgetown, Ontario in the mid-2000s.

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