By 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.
“Rescue Us From Boredom”
“Girls and Their Boys”
“When They Paid Me”
“Down In Flames”
“Up and Running”
(Review originally published at HillsideFestival.ca)