CBC Music Festival Review: Alvvays, Stars, Elisapie, Peach Pit, Buffy Sainte Marie, Charlote Cardin, May 25, Echo Beach


“Rain or Shine” – if you’ve ever attended any outdoor concert or festival, you’re well aware of these ominous words, a caveat emptor reminding attendees that the weather can throw a bit of a wrench in the works. Over its years of existance, the CBC Music Festival at Echo Beach has generally been blessed with good weather, but that streak came to an end this year with thunderstorms putting things on a hold midway through the day. Still, despite the weather, it turned out to be a good day of music, though I will note that a venue full of sand is not really the ideal place to be after excessive rain.

Missing out on the first few acts of the day, I arrived in time to catch the tail end of Charlotte Cardin’s set on the main stage. With the sun still out at the time, her jazzy tunes went over well with the crowd, with songs like “Dirty Dirty” and “Main Girl” getting a strong positive reaction. Following Cardin came one of the sets I was most looking forward to – legendary singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte Marie. With a career spanning over 50 years, Buffy knows how to put on a show and definitely has not lost any of her edge. With a longstanding history of activism, she continues to use her songs as a platform to speak out against all sort of injustice in the world – newer songs like “No No Keshagesh” and “The War Racket” fit in quite nicely next to classics like “Universal Soldier.” While Alvvays were the day’s headliners and Stars’ performance of Set Yourself On Fire was the big story surrounding the festival, Buffy Sainte Marie easily put on one of the most engaging shows of the entire festival.

Shortly after that, the announcement came that due to incoming weather, they would be evacuating the site, directing people to either go wait it out in their cars or seek shelter under the roof of the nearby Budweiser Stage. I chose the latter, which meant I was privy to the strange little interlude wherein q host Tom Power did his best to keep the crowd occupied, mostly by firing off a t-shirt cannon into the crowd. People do love t-shirt cannons … well ok, maybe not Maude Flanders, but most people.

Once the storm had cleared, the festival resumed according to schedule, with Peach Pit getting things going again at the q Stage with a set of catchy indie rock that featured probably the day’s only instance of a performer crowd surfing. Weird side note: I’m not sure if this was purely coincidence or if it was intentional, but the entire band seemed to be dressed in the same clothes they’ve worn in a bunch of press photos. Or maybe they’ve just got a closet full of the same outfit, like Mark Zuckerberg.

Moving on to the Junos 365 Stage, I caught most of Elisapie’s performance as she and her bandmates put on an impressive set full of songs from her latest, The Ballad Of The Runaway Girl, that ran the gamut from folky singer-songwriter fare to louder, noisier, and occasionally dissonant numbers. Highlights of her set included “Arnaq”, “Una” and her cover of Willie Thrasher’s “Wolves Don’t Live By The Rules.”

Before Alvvays closed things out with a solid set that included a nice cover of The Breeder’s “Divine Hammer,” Stars brought the nostalgia with an entertaining and dramatic set made up of their 2004 album Set Yourself On Fire performed in its entirety. And though it has admittedly been awhile since I’d listened to that album at all, it all came back to me pretty quickly and the songs still sounded great. Ageless beauty indeed.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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