TURF Review: The Hives, Skinny Lister, Explosions In The Sky, Margo Price, September 16, Fort York

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Early on in their 4:00 slot on the first day of the Toronto Urban Roots Festival, Hives singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist thanked all the people without jobs for coming out early. “They say rock n’ roll doesn’t work in the daylight, but they ain’t never seen The Hives before,” he later commented. It’s true, The Hives put on a fantastic show that would probably work well in almost any scenario. The Swedes put on a ridiculously high energy set that was the highlight of the day and one of the highlights of the entire festival. Almqvist himself would gladly tell you so – there’s a lot of swagger in the bands performance, as seen in Almqvist’s constant exhortations of the crowd to scream (“When we’re not making noise, you make noise.”) and his tongue in cheek comments like “I am your favourite rock and roll asshole” and “We will now play a very popular song from our back catalogue.” He joked midway through their set that The Hives had taken the fort after only five or six songs and while it was a joke, there was definitely some truth to it.

While The Hives were the undisputed winners of the day, a few other acts also put on impressive performances. English folk punkers Skinny Lister put on a fun show highlighted by an appearance of the band’s “seventh member,” a giant jug full of what i believe was rum (I didn’t get a chance to partake) and by singer Lorna Thomas jumping off the stage to dance with the crowd for the duration of one song. Austinites Explosions In The Sky put on a typically epic performance, though like The Hives, it seemed to be a bit early in the day for them – they put on a good show, but could have benefited from a bit more of a lightshow to accompany their post-rock instrumentals. But hey, you can’t have it all.

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Another act making a strong impression on the first day was Margo Price, who played one of the earliest sets of the day after playing a show the night before at Lee’s Palace. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter has been referred to by some as the next big thing in country music and her set on the West Stage showed that she’s definitely got the goods. She played a mix of songs off her debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter and covers of classic country tunes such as Mickey Newbury’s “Why You Been Gone So Long” and Doug Sahm’s “Give Back The Key To My Heart.” One of the highlights of her set was “Desperate and Depressed,” a song inspired by a particularly bad show in Florida. “We probably won’t be going back there too soon,” she added. Price and her band of talented players closed off their set with “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle),” a song which deserves a place at the bar alongside the great country drinking songs.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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