Riverfest: GROOVA – The Lay Awakes – The Wooden Sky – Tokyo Police Club – Sarah Harmer – Donovan Woods – Alan Doyle – The Planet Smashers – The New Pornographers – Shad – Metric
On Saturday August 15th I headed to Elora for Riverfest 2015. It was a hot, hot sunny day and the music was just as hot. Now in it’s seventh year, Riverfest is held along the banks of The Grand river in Elora. Year seven brings an additional day to the festival which offers a wide variety of music, art, food and culture for all.
My first thought was to get the lay of the land. I could see the Main Stage and quickly spotted the Kitras Art Glass Tent Stage so I set off to find the Dine Alone X Roots – Wax On Wheels Stage. I found it and some amazing sculptures along the way. I decided GROOVA would be my first stop.
GROOVA is made up of Dean Workman (bassist), Richard Hill (drummer), Emmett Watters (guitarist from The Boo Radley Project), Daley O’Keeffe as percussionist (drummer from The Boo Radley Project) and Nick Lennox on Sax. Super funky, they were a great way to start off my afternoon.
I caught the end of The Lay Awakes set at the Kitras Art Glass Tent Stage. They added a local note to the festival, Patrick Anderson grew up just down the road from Bissell Park. Patrick and Anna Paddock have been playing together recently and the pair call Brooklyn, NY home although they both originally hail from Canada. Their style is described as acoustic pop and I thought they were pretty awesome.
The Wooden Sky – Gavin Gardiner (vocals/guitar), Andrew Kekewich (drums), Simon Walker (multi-instrumentalist), Edwin Huizinga (violin) and Andrew Wyatt (bass and vocals). A thread of nostalgia and longing ran through their set. The sound was fresh and warm and we really liked them.
Tokyo Police Club hit the Main Stage at 4:45 and let me tell you again, it was hot! Sporting shorts lead singer David Monks didn’t let the heat keep his energy level down. Graham Wright (keyboards), Josh Hook (guitar) and Greg Alsop (drums), played through the heat like it was nothing. They played all of my favourites including Wait Up and Nature of the Experiment.
I stayed put at the main stage, partly because it was just too hot to go wandering around but also because I wanted a good spot to see Sarah Harmer. Sarah’s performance was filled with warmth and desire. The audience was all in. Sarah was engaging and authentic. My favourite moment came when she recounted the story of writing “Don’t Get Your Back Up” in her sister’s bedroom in the 80’s. I love that song!
Next up, I headed back to the Kitras Art Glass Tent Stage for Donovan Woods. Smart lyrics, great guitar and harmonica playing and a natural ease with the audience. Donovan is on my must see again list.
And back to the main stage for Alan Doyle. What can I say about this guy? I love him and the crowd loved him. He knows how to relate to us and we can’t help but respond. Great songs, great fun and a great sense of humour. Alan is a professional and it shows. We were treated to songs from the new So Let’s Go album and old favourites including some Great Big Sea hits.
Zipping back to the Kitras Art Glass Tent Stage just before Alan’s set finished, I wanted to make sure I was up front when The Planet Smashers set started. If we’re being 100% honest, and we are, these guys are the reason I knew about this show. I follow them and when I saw Elora pop up on their shows list, I knew I had to go! So, this was not my first The Planet Smashers show but it was the first time I was there to shoot. I’m not normally in the front row so it was a whole new experience for me.
I love this band. I love their music and their energy. The band hails from Montreal and they’ve made playing ska music their life. Fun, energetic and so talented. The Planet Smashers are a ska band from Montreal who are masters of audience participation, getting the crowd to sit, chant, and jump to their feet on command. Beach toys filled the air and I saw my only crowd surfer of the day bouncing through the air with an inflatable flamingo. At the stage managers’ end of set warning they said, “Four minutes? We can play two songs in four minutes!” and they did.
So fantastic to watch. So good!
I woke up with this in my head – “We are fabricated, we are regulated, we will fight to control the truth.” Nicely done The Planet Smashers, nicely done.
— Sound Check Ent. (@SoundCheckBlg) August 16, 2015
I quickly headed back to the main stage for The New Pornographers at 9:15. Let me stop to give a kudos to the organizers of the festival. This day went off without a hitch, amazing organization, staff, security and volunteers. The audience was attentive and the front area was full.
I took our only real break of the day while Shad played the tent. I listened from behind the tent and grabbed a quick bite to eat. The music was great, the energy was fun and positive and I’m sorry I didn’t shot any pics.
I did take a few minutes to do a quick tour of the site in the dark and shoot some of the sculptures. A lovely touch Riverfest!
And then it was time for our Saturday headliner, Metric. I love Metric and this was my second time seeing them this year. Being front and centre while they work their magic is something to behold. They opened with Stadium Love and had the crowd jumping up and down along with them. We got songs from the new album and hits including Gold, Guns, Girls, Help I’m Alive, and Breathing Under Water.
Metric is on tour through November.
— Sound Check Ent. (@SoundCheckBlg) August 16, 2015