Tag Archives: Island Stage

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