Monday, June 9, 2014

10 Field Trip 2014 Observations

Well, the second year of Field Trip Music & Arts Festival has wrapped, and the sunburn, yawns and perma-smile are indications that it was a home-run weekend. After two days of rain, shine and over ten live sets, it's time to get back to reality, but not before recounting the standout observations from Arts & Crafts' annual music gathering.

Here's what I noticed:

1. Although they only reunite once a year now, Broken Social Scene remain such golden ambassadors for the City of Toronto. And, not only in the music sense. Whether encouraging people to exercise their democratic right and make positive changes for the city, shouting their love for Ontario's capital repeatedly or simply being the reason thousands were gathered for this festival in the first place - the legendary gaggle of Canadian indie-rockers make it hard to not exude Toronto pride every time you watch them. Also, Kevin Drew and Amy Millan's voices are still two of my favourite sounds.

2. Lauren Mayberry from CHVRCHES isn't only incredibly talented, but is one of the earth's more charming human beings. Shyly refusing to sing Alanis Morrisette after admitting her love for the Canadian artist, drinking a big mug of tea and being the size of a Polly Pocket are all things that contribute to her undeniable infectiousness on stage.

3. Reuben & The Dark will hit much bigger stages, and soon. The Calgary folk-rockers played to an appreciative crowd of lawn-sitters on Saturday, and likely gained hundreds of new fans in doing so. Between his strong voice and their booming melodies, Reuben's crew is destined for big things.

4. Despite any inclement weather, no one should ever bring an umbrella into the middle of a tight crowd. If I had a nickel for every time I almost lost an eye, I could have bought another beer.

5. I really appreciate artists who smile and look alive during their set. I said this about Dave Hosking of Boy & Bear a few months back, and was reminded of my affinity for grinning musicians after watching Ernest Greene of Washed Out emit oodles of great vibes during their upbeat appearance. Whether drifting through a dreamy ballad or bouncing around with his acoustic guitar, Greene's chillwave elation rubbed off on the adoring crowd.

6. Half Moon Run are electric. Every time I see these guys live, I'm reminded of this - and I'm reminded why the Montreal indie-rockers were Mumford & Sons' pick for opening act when they played La Belle Province. Also, the lead singer is something else.

7. A Tribe Called Red consistently throw the best party in Canada. With ear-to-ear smiles and endless new beats up their sleeves, the three DJs and their fearless dancer drive audiences wild with their electronic and First Nations infused repertoire. Each time I see them, I fall more and more in love with what they've brought to the table.

8. Gord Downie always sounds terrific (even better when he wears a cowboy hat, if that's possible) - especially when he's brought on stage to sing "Texico Bitches" with Kevin Drew and the Broken Social Scene collective. I think he's the next member in the rotating line-up, based on how well he belted that ditty.

9. Interpol leave me starstruck. Listening to baritone-voiced Paul Banks and his brooding band set fire to their headlining set on Saturday night, I felt as giddy as I remembered feeling when I discovered Antics as a teenager. They are absolute veterans, and it comes across in every guitar lick.

10. I love this city. And I love things like this that bring everyone together, for the best reason that I can think of: being witness to live music. I can't imagine living in a place that wasn't so proudly and easily united for the purpose of consuming art.

(11. I already can't wait for next year.)

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