Tag Archives: Guelph

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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Hillside review: Esther Grey @ Lake Stage – July 26, 2014

By Tom Beedham

Steph Yates of Esther Grey @ the Lake Stage for Hillside Festival - July 26, 2014. Photo: Tom Beedham

Steph Yates of Esther Grey @ the Lake Stage for Hillside Festival – July 26, 2014. Photo: Tom Beedham

Steph Yates and Tyson Brinacombe are pretty much staples of Guelph’s “underground” music community, so it’s no surprise that Esther Grey is featured as such a prominent fixture of this year’s Hillside. They helped welcome the eager ears with a festival opening workshop alongside Amelia Curran, Bry Webb, Culture Reject, Daniel Champagne, and Fearing & White at the Island Stage yesterday, and later tonight, Yates is participating in another workshop with fellow musical nook and cranny explorers Barzin, Clinton St. Johh, and Nat Baldwin at the Sun Stage.

Earlier this afternoon, Esther Grey got a chance to plow through a proper set of its own at the Lake Stage.

Esther Grey is also celebrating this Hillside with the discharge of a special, very limited career-spanning CD compilation collecting works found elsewhere on last fall’s “Buttermilk” seven-inch, their split with Brinacombe’s other project, Tyson & His Gameboy, a 2011 CFRU compilation of local artists, and a rare, six-copy cassette released for Kazoo! Fest 2013. But seldom ones to stick to the script, Esther Grey’s sets are never extensively rehearsed renditions of their recordings. The group’s been known to improvise parts of their sets and shuffle up the deck, bringing in outside performers to keep things interesting onstage. Today that meant bringing in their friend Starr to play a keyboard that coupled the band’s tip-toed garage pop minimalism with curious sound washes and frequency wobbles. A couple of gear problems gave way to improvised sections, and the set was only better for it.

It was a performance that perpetuated a long tradition of making it impossible to walk away from an Esther Grey concert without yearning for something more – maybe it’s time for a live album from these folks.

(Review originally published at HillsideFestival.ca)

Hillside reviews: Supersonic (Lee Ranaldo and The Dust, Colin Stetson, Richard Reed Parry, Sarah Neufeld +guests) at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Members of Sonic Youth, Arcade Fire play improvised set featuring reimagination of The Velvet Underground and Nico’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties”

Lee Ranaldo and The Dust performed a collaborative workshop with Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre members Colin Stetson, Sarah Neufeld, and Richard Reed Parry at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. on July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Lee Ranaldo and The Dust performed a collaborative workshop with Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre members Colin Stetson, Sarah Neufeld, and Richard Reed Parry at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. on July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

With a lineup consisting of Sonic Youth founder/guitarist Lee Ranaldo and his new band The Dust (which includes fellow Sonic Youth member and drummer Steve Shelley), Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre members Sarah Neufeld, Richard Reed Parry, and Colin Stetson (all of whom performed their own sets previously that day at Hillside Festival), listeners knew they were in for something special when they assembled under the tent at Island Stage for the closing performance of Hillside’s 30th anniversary July 28. But when, before the interim super group drove into its collaboration, Parry offered a disclaimer admitting, “We’re making this up as we go along,” fans were guaranteed a truly idiosyncratic presentation from some of the best classically and alternatively informed musicians in the world.

If a little highbrow, the workshop experiment’s marquee prestige was tested by its allegedly extemporaneous coming together; transporting its participants from the comparatively insular settings of their typical creative unwindings to a public environment, the bands and their special guests showcased their true grit (as if anyone was suspicious) with a handful of introspective drone numbers.

As Steve Shelley hammered out a meditative bed track and Neufeld and Stetson tapped into their frenetic-to-tranquil-shifting fiddle work and dirgeful sax drones (respectively), providing a source of friction for the rest of the group to massage, Ranaldo dug into his seemingly bottomless bag of tricks to display some of the experimental techniques featured minimally (if at all) on his newer solo material and at his earlier Main Stage performance with The Dust. He tested one of his Fender Jazzmasters’ physical endurance with some unrestrained neck bending, took the body with both hands and shook out some choppy feedback surfing, drew and peppered a fiddle bow and timpani mallets across the strings, and even applied iPhone playback to the pickups to render feedback.

Leaving the acoustic six-string he stuck to throughout his solo set earlier in the day, Parry, à la Bell Orchestre, manned a double bass for the entirety of the collaborative set, also putting the percussion skills he’s sourced for in Arcade Fire and Little Scream to use by drumming on the instrument’s sides. The Dust’s Tim Luntzel aided him in providing the low end.

(review continues after video)

Laurel Sprengelmeyer (Little Scream) – a collaborator of Parry’s and his solo act’s keyboardist for the day – came onstage to perform Nico’s vocals on a slow burning, 11-minute reimagination of The Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” (See video above.) Mostly instrumental, it was an easy set highlight that doubled as a nod to The National-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties performance Parry gave in December of last year. Sprengelmeyer also performed vocals for the ensemble’s  interpretation of Mary Margaret O’Hara’s “When You Know Why You’re Happy,” which she and Parry recorded in 2012 for the first volume of Have Not Been the Same: The Can-Rock Renaissance 1985-1995’s companion compilation, Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die.

Halfway through the Hillside performance, Ranaldo and The Dust left the stage while Stefan Schneider (The Luyas) stepped up to take Shelley’s spot at the kit for what Neufeld announced as “a post-Bell Orchestre throw down.”

About ten minutes after having left the stage, Ranaldo and co. rejoined the group to transition into a reworking of the performer’s “Hammer Blows” that would close out the evening  and with it, the 30th anniversary of Hillside. As a festival that’s built a reputation on providing the one-of-a-kind performer-coupling workshops it has hosted over the years, ending things with a little bit of the same magic seemed the only appropriate way to do things.

Arcade Fire’s version of Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers” is set to appear on a compilation of material covering the singer’s work, And I’ll Scratch Yours, which will also feature a cover of “Solsbury Hill” by Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed. The record is the answer to Scratch My Back, an album recorded by Gabriel as a collection of songs by other performers, including Arcade Fire’s “My Body Is A Cage” and Lou Reed’s “The Power Of The Heart.” And I’ll Scratch Yours is scheduled for release Sept. 23 via Real World.

Both Lee Ranaldo and The Dust and Arcade Fire have new albums of original material forthcoming. Lee Ranaldo and The Dust are set to release their first album under that official title sometime in September this year. So far untitled, the album will arrive via Matador Records. Also as yet untitled, Arcade Fire will release an  LP  Oct. 29 via Mercury Records.

Related posts:
Hillside reviews: Colin Stetson at Island Stage – July 28, 2013
Hillside reviews: Richard Reed Parry at Island Stage – July 28, 2013
Hillside reviews: Sarah Neufeld at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Hillside reviews: Fucked Up at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Fucked Up play unreleased material, announce return of Long Winter at Hillside

Fucked Up played unreleased material and announced the return of its Long Winter series at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. Photo: Tom Beedham

Fucked Up played unreleased material and announced the return of its Long Winter series at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. Photo: Tom Beedham

Fucked Up might have passed up a perfect opportunity to perform a rare (if not a three-years-in-the-making premiere) performance of “Solomon’s Song” with Colin Stetson at Hillside, but we’ll have to forgive them.

Having played a solo set on the Island Stage just hours before Fucked Up’s, the experimental saxophonist could have easily subbed in for Year of the Ox collaborator and Bitters member Aerin Fogel on the band’s 2010 Zodiac series b-side, but such is the stuff of the Guelph, Ont. festival’s highly regarded collaborative workshops – and not it’s regular concert presentations – anyway.

Instead, among some fistfuls of classics, Fucked Up used it’s half hour and change to test some (marginally shorter) new material it spent April and May holed up recording at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio recording studios in Chicago. There was the “It’s the privilege of mass delusion” chorused track that has been performed without a name since the band debuted it at the February edition of its Long Winter series at The Great Hall in Toronto, and also “Daddy” (finally named after premiered untitled at Exclaim!’s North by Northeast showcase at the Horseshoe Tavern June18 – watch video of the song’s NXNE premiere below), which frontman Damian Abraham dedicated to the band’s children.

The band with the f-word name further proved itself to be a family affair when it closed with “The Other Shoe” and Abraham’s older son, Holden, was invited onstage to contribute group vocals to the song’s chorus (even if nerves got the best of him in the end).

While the new songs have been given stage time before, it’s no surprise Fucked Up would try to familiarize their fans with them while still providing sets that churn out previous full length classics like “Black Albino Bones” (which Abraham dedicated to anyone in the crowd afflicted with the “horrible addiction” of vinyl collecting), “Son the Father,” and “Turn The Season,” as well as 2012 single “I Hate Summer” to keep the crowd participation up. Still, with the studio time behind them, it’s easy to surmise that it’s only a matter of time before Fucked Up’s new LP drops and it’s given precedence over offerings from David Comes To Life and The Chemistry of Common Life; 2006’s Hidden World was virtually unrepresented at Hillside.

Still, the band was all nostalgia in between songs: Abraham asked fans if anyone was present for the band’s performance at Guelph’s long-since defunct punk commune, The Punkalow, and the singer also related a story about a Holy Fuck fan mistakenly attending one of Fucked Up’s shows and subsequently purchasing an album.

At the end of the set, Abraham made sure fans received random articles of clothing that arrived onstage by way of the pit, and Hillside host Vish Khanna announced the band’s Long Winter series would return to Toronto in November.

Related:
Watch: Fucked Up play “Daddy” at NXNE
Hillside reviews: Colin Stetson at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013
Hillside reviews: Supersonic (Lee Ranaldo and The Dust, Colin Stetson, Richard Reed Parry, Sarah Neufeld +guests) at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Hillside reviews: Sarah Neufeld at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre violinist performs music from solo debut in Guelph

Sarah Neufeld (left) brought life partner and Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre bandmate Colin Stetson (right) onstage for a special performance of "Breathing Black Ground" amid a set of her solo material at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Sarah Neufeld (left) brought life partner and Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre bandmate Colin Stetson (right) onstage for a special performance of “Breathing Black Ground” amid a set of her solo material at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Positioned on the Island Stage at the tail end of a program of solo performances from fellow Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre bandmates Richard Reed Parry and Colin Stetson, experimental violinist Sarah Neufeld used her own time at Hillside to give a rapt audience a preview of the bulk of her upcoming solo debut, Hero Brother.

Opening her set the same way her album does, Neufeld kicked things off with hypnotic album cuts “Tower,” “Hero Brother,” and “Dirt,” then skipping over a few she’d save for the finale to jump into the contrasting “Wrong Thought” and “Right Thought.”

Having recorded the album with site-specific acoustics in Berlin, at recent performances Neufeld has requested that venues supply wooden boxes or cookie sheets for her to kick while fiddling away. But positioned atop Hillside’s Island Stage, a hollow plywood construct, Neufeld found an entirely new environment to route her songs through, by way of much more than geography.

A student of the revered Suzuki method – the highly intensive school of violin – Neufeld weaved intricately around the strings while pounding the stage with her deliberate heel blows, delivering it all from behind a deeply concentrated gaze. But the show broke highbrow when one particular stomp coincided with a small explosion to the side of the stage and Neufeld quipped about causing it with her foot.

The violinist also sliced any pretension by getting casual with the crowd in between songs.

Breaking to take a drink after “Right Thought,” Neufeld lifted her Hillside mug and drained a handsome gulp, claiming, “I need to let the muscles in my arm unseize before I play again. That’s what the beer is for, I guess.”

She quickly retracted the statement, however, to make reference to her other occupation, yoga instruction.

“No! That’s yoga!”

It all made for a fitting segue leading into “Muscle Till Death,” a song that doesn’t appear on Hero Brother’s tracklisting and suggests Neufeld’s solo album might not simply be a one-off.

She followed the track with the album’s “Forcelessness,” featuring a guest performance from Richard Reed Parry on guitar (a collaboration Neufeld announced she’d never been able to perform live before).

After that, Neufeld closed the set with Hero Brother centerpieces “Breathing Black Ground” and the beautifully melancholic “They Live On,” bringing life partner and experimental saxophonist Colin Stetson onstage with his century-old bass sax for the former and relating the experience of recording it in an abandoned geodesic dome “with lots of reverb.”

It wasn’t the last the crowd saw of Neufeld and her associates at Hillside, though; Neufeld, Parry, and Stetson all performed a special collaborative workshop with Lee Ranaldo & The Dust as well as special guests that closed out the festival at the end of the night.

Hero Brother releases August 20 via Constellation.

Setlist:
“Tower”
“Hero Brother”
“Dirt”
“Wrong Thought”
“Right Thought”
“Muscle Till Death”
“Forcelessness” (w/ Richard Reed Parry)
“Breathing Black Ground” (w/ Colin Stetson)
“They Live On”

Related:
Richard Reed Parry showcases his “Quiet River Of Dust” project at Hillside
Hillside reviews: Colin Stetson at the Island Stage – July 28, 2013
Sarah Neufeld, Richard Reed Parry, Colin Stetson perform workshop with Lee Ranaldo &The Dust
The New York Times’ Style Magazine has the video premiere for “Forcelessness”

Hillside reviews: Colin Stetson at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Colin Stetson performed at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. July 18. Photo: Tom Beedham

Colin Stetson performed at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. July 18. Photo: Tom Beedham

Having released the completion to his New History Warfare trilogy in April and subsequently earned a second shortlisting for the 2013 Polaris Prize, it came with no surprise that the Island Stage tent at Guelph Lake was packed for Colin Stetson’s Hillside performance.

Even if the festival horde that assembled around the stage at Hillside had done so on the grounds of base curiosity and the ambiguity of the invisible sounds provided by Stetson’s recordings failed to establish him as a force to be reckoned with in their minds beforehand, his live performance likely confirmed his status as a one-man orch-rock army.

With less than an hour of stage time at his disposal, Stetson delivered only a handful of his surreally affected sax drones at Hillside Festival, but he still managed to showcase three songs from each of the latter two volumes of the New History Warfare.

Opening with “Among the Sef,” the mournful alto-sax supported ode to octopi that didn’t have much luck coming on land, Stetson set the tone for the ironically elate crowd that would receive his afternoon performance.

He followed the song by picking up his century-old bass-sax and strapping on his throat mic for a medleyed version of the New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges title track, a rendition that also delivered portions of “Home” and “Fear Of The Unknown And The Blazing Sun.”

Next was another bass-sax rendered number, “High Above A Grey Green Sea,” introduced with just a brief mention of the infamous 52-hertz “Loneliest Whale In The World” cetacean whose song cannot be registered by other whales (he instructed the crowd to do their own research). Stetson has dedicated the song to the sea creature since a friend told him it called into mind the whispered stories of the elusive whale.

Perhaps as a nod to the closing of his trilogy’s narrative, Stetson closed the set with the title track from New Histroy Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light.

At the end of the day, Stetson also participated in an improvised collaborative workshop with Sonic Youth member Lee Ranaldo and his new band The Dust, as well as Little Scream, fellow Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre bandmates Sarah Neufeld, Richard Reed Parry and Stefan Schneider  (read the review here).

Setlist:
“Among the Sef”
“Judges” (including “Home” and “Fear Of The Unknown And The Blazing Sun” medley)
“High Above A Grey Green Sea”
“To See More Light”

Related posts:
Hillside reviews: Supersonic (Lee Ranaldo and The Dust, Colin Stetson, Richard Reed Parry, Sarah Neufeld +guests) at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Hillside reviews: Richard Reed Parry at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Richard Reed Parry shares stage, announces collaboration with Dallas Good of The Sadies

Richard Reed Parry performed his rarely heard “Quiet River of Dust” project at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. on July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Richard Reed Parry performed his rarely heard “Quiet River of Dust” project at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. on July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Although he’s recognized as a multi-instrumentalist that plays everything from drums and double bass to accordion and celesta in Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre, when Richard Reed Parry performed his solo work at Hillside Festival July 28, he came onstage bearing only an acoustic guitar.

Well, that and some friends.

Performing his yeti sighting-rare and All Tomorrow’s Parties-retained “Quiet River of Dust” project at Guelph Lake with the help of Bell Orchestre bandmate Stefan Schneider on drums and Laurel Sprengelmeyer (Little Scream) on keys, Parry kicked off the first of three hours of Hillside programming from members of the two most publicized bands to which he belongs.

Although he played the more sparsely attended hour amongst the block that also saw performances from Sarah Neufeld and Colin Stetson, perhaps not used to holding the spotlight onstage (although visibly comfortable, no doubt), Parry also called upon some collaborators to share the stage with.

Performing a song he called “Gentle Pulsing Dust,” Parry invited fellow Hillside performer Dallas Good of The Sadies onstage to introduce his own voice and an electric guitar into the mix. Parry also announced the two of them have been working together on material on-and-off for some years (Parry, 35, also joked the process might mean the two won’t get around to releasing a full record until he turns 40, so there’s that, too).

Sarah Neufeld – who, in addition to her own set, also performed in a special collaborative workshop with Parry, Colin Stetson, and Lee Ranaldo and The Dust at Hillside – also joined the performer onstage.

While not a set highlight, immediately following Parry’s performance, a festival announcer told the audience that Arcade Fire would release a new album Oct. 29, to which Parry quickly responded with a “Shh!” over the mic. Of course, the release date of Arcade Fire’s upcoming record went public July 12 when the band’s Twitter account responded to a fan’s praise on Twitter with news of the album. Parry’s reaction to the Hillside announcement of that news suggests that perhaps not all of the Grammy Award and Polaris Prize-winning band was in the loop on or concerned with the promotion strategy (if that) for the new release. Or maybe he was just being coy.

Related posts:
Hillside reviews: Supersonic (Lee Ranaldo and The Dust, Colin Stetson, Richard Reed Parry, Sarah Neufeld +guests) at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013