*written by guest writer Matthew Haskell. Matthew, aka M Hask (@M_Hask) moved to Toronto 10 years ago with dreams of sex drugs and rock and roll. From being in bands and working steadily in photo labs his love of sneaking disposable cameras into concerts developed. [Until digital came around No Camera Policies were pretty well enforced] Equally a musician and visual artist he continued with a DIY attitude to create art and music under the umbrella he called Messy Bedroom Collective. Check out his music at fourstardaydream.bandcamp.com and see his lifestyle and concert photography at www.mhask.com.
*all photos by Justin Roth
It’s Saturday afternoon, it’s gorgeous outside and I’m expecting a text to go running but instead find myself running to grab my festival essentials. That text to go running turned into, “grab your stuff; we’re headed to CBC Music Festival.” (Photographer) Justin and I arrive at Echo Beach in time to catch a blistering end to a set from Tanya Tagaq on the main stage.
Dressed in black and seemingly unaffected by the sun, the Polaris prize winning throat singer has the sun soaked audience entranced, some dancing through the heat while most bask in the sand on beach blankets. Tagaq’s throat singing creates a communal release for all in attendance as drums pound behind her rhythmical outbursts and near hyperventilated vocals.
We now retreat to $3 ATM fees and $15 beer before catching Whitehorse from behind the CBC tent. Shimmering summer guitar tones and male/female harmonies hang in the humid air. Whitehorse’s Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland lay down their neo indie folk vibes on the Chuck Berry classic “Nadine” and this afternoon has found the axis where sunshine and soundtrack meet. After some much needed shade we continue across the cement slabs of Ontario Place to the side stage and vendors.
Running into some vendor friends, Justin and I slip over to catch Ria Mae own the side stage armed with nothing but her black Telecaster and a drummer. Completely in her element Ria commands the stage with the presence of a full band, and well crafted songs akin to early Tegan & Sara with the grit of Serena Ryder.
Over on the second stage, Zaki Ibrahim dazzles in galaxy print leggings and that inimitable and soul warming voice.
Also on the side stage, Montreal’s Franklin Electric serenaded the warm and happy audience with their special blend of folk pop goodness.
As we acclimatize to the heat, Tokyo Police Club walk on stage accelerating every drip of sweat into pure energy. “It’s all about that SPF 10,000” lead singer David Monks announces, before pulsating drum beats propel the signature grainy keyboard hooks set to Monk’s dead pan vocals. The band is appropriately clad in sun glasses, and every song sounds like summer. Beach balls begin to bounce across a now upright audience, as I’m approached by a security guard who is unhappy with me catching a couple shots from the audience. After requesting me to follow him I lose him through the thankfully packed and energetic crowd before meeting back up with Justin to find some power for our phones.
The sun is still bright but begins to relent as Alvvays’ hazy dream pop paints the skyline backdrop in dusky shades of orange and pink. Molly Rankin’s enchanting voice washes across the waterfront with a sense of relief. Time seems to slow, as a breeze begins to present itself while the classic cool of fuzzed out guitars washed in reverb, the naïve inviting melodies, all seem to make the heat just little more forgiving.
Making good on the relief from the sun is the road worthy personnel of Canada’s West coast super group The New Pornographers. Carl Newman and crew never disappoint with power pop anthems worthy of Wings era McCartney. With blue skies and golden light the band effortless sing the audience through classics like “Mass Romantic” and “…Slow Descent into Alcoholism” as well as recent gems “Dancehall Domine” and “Brill Bruisers” the title track from their most recent effort.
By now the sun has met the horizon and Hey Rosetta! make good on the continuing enthusiasm forward from the previous artists, delivering a set that is easily wrapping up the sentiments of the day. While equally laid back at times, the band is taking full advantage of riling up this tireless crowd. This is all before giving the crowd a collective release while covering The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century” in tribute to Gord Downie.
The heat is beginning to break and the humidity is settling in the air. It’s been a long day, filled with talented musicians and all of which come from some corner of this expansive country. This is important to note, as the calibre of talent on display today wasn’t just Canadian, but world class.