Day four of CityFolk Fest offered clear blue skies, warm temperatures, and short shorts. Rounding out a weekend of unique musical experiences, the final day of this annual Ottawa tradition actually provided some of the strongest and quite possibly most dynamic performers.
Kicking the afternoon with Fred Penner filling the room for a second performance in as many days, the family dynamic was in full swing, with hundreds of young families celebrating over forty years of Fred’s distinct and wholesome entertainment product. With a showcase equally as impressive and lively as yesterday’s concert of smiles and singalongs.
Vanilla Fudge offered as much nostalgia as the growing audience could handle, sounding crisp, clear and equally as wholesome. Vanilla Fudge was a stand out this afternoon because they were one of the mainstay bands that really brought their A-game and made the audience feel like they were at a real rock concert.
The breakout performer of the day in my eyes was Julien Baker. Her honest and seemingly vulnerable showcase of original music was as moving as it was impressive. Her vocal range was stomach rattling, and each song sound distinct. Appearing on the stage to an eager crowd of onlooker who grew exponentially as the artist found her footing and groove, Julien didn’t shy away from addressing some of the more surreal chore songwriting stories, singing openly about the type of depression, sadness, angst, and desire to improve that leaves an audience with chills. In spite of her small stature, and humble demeanor, she left the stage with less of herself than she had built a wall in front of at the onset. The audience applauded with an honest emotional investment that I had not heard much of this whole festival.
With an afternoon jam packed with talented artists like Dean Brody, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and Lake Street Drive, I feel as though the festival organizers made an honest attempt to save their best and most engaging for last, as X Ambassadors brought their refined, moving and polished rock star act to the main stage to round out the afternoon.
can only speak for myself, but I can say with complete intention that their ability to connect with their audience and fill out a large stage with a full sound and radio ready vibe that is easily identifiable, far surpassed the previous headliners with the exception of James Bay’s Thursday night performance.
This festival provides a lot to celebrate. Lansdowne Park continues to develop and round out as a commercial hub of activity that is so beyond comparison that Hog’s Back Park feels like a distant and lackluster memory. The weather cooperated, and there were smiles as far as the eyes could see. If I was to offer any type of constructive feedback it would be that this year’s lineup lacked enough of those divine stageside experiences.
When you have thousands of people in the palms of your hands, seize the moment much like X Ambassadors did on a grand level, and Julien did even when it was only her and a guitar singing about heartbreak. Because after all, we all want to be that kid in the front row at a Fred Penner concert. That is why we attend shows like this. Inspiration, entertainment and feel good moments.
…The only thing that makes the main stage better is the beer.
Also, should out to the fine vendors like Compact Music, The Express and and the hundreds of others who helped make the festival market a great distraction when we needed a break. And a shout out to South Street Burger. Not only is the food satisfying, but so is the locally crafted beer. And nothing beats beer and a burger.
More of our fave images from Sunday.