Hillside Festival Review: Ifriqiyya Electrique, Myriam Gendron, Bedouine, Cat Clyde, Boy Golden, July 24


At their best, music festivals are about discoveries and though a Sunday night storm would ultimately lead to an earlier than expected end to Guelph’s Hillside Festival, the performances which took place earlier in the day still provided several great musical discoveries within the final day’s varied and eclectic lineup.

And I do mean eclectic. Hillside has always been a fairly eclectic festival with performers from acrosss many genres, so this was nothing new, but it’s still worth noting. A glance at the main stage schedule alone would reveal a lineup that encompassed everything from the Danish klezmer group Mames Babeganush to bluegrass-meets-hip hop band Gangstagrass to Faroese singer Eivør to, most unexpectedly, the industrial sounds of Ifriqiyya Electrique, who delivered one of the best shows of the whole weekend. With their loud, bracing, and passionate performance, the Tunisian four-piece put on a show that was certainly hard to forget.

20220724_175907 (1)

Also delivering a unique and memorable performance was Montreal’s Myriam Gendron, whose latest album Ma délire – Songs of love, lost & found, finds her interpreting old traditional tunes sung in both French and English.

Gendron plays folk music in the truest sense – it’s music that draws on the songs and traditions of the past and builds on them, ultimately creating something new while still paying tribute to what came before. Gendron put on an absolutely beautiful performance during both of the sets she played during the day. I caught only part of her main set on the Lake stage earlier on in the afternoon before later taking in her second performance of the day as part of the “Before The Moon” workshop on the Sun Stage. For that set, she was backed up for two songs by Leela Gilday’s bassist and drummer, who provided some brilliant accompaniment. And on a side note, Gilday and her band probably deserve to be named Hillside MVPs for not only playing perhaps the most workshops of any performers but also being game for as much collaboration and jamming as possible on each occasion.

Speaking of workshops, as usual, some of the most memorable Hillside moments came from the workshop sessions, including the crowd favourite Sunday gospel session, which saw incredible performances from the likes of Kyshona, Julian Taylor and Nicolette & The Nobodies and which culminated in a group performance of the old spiritual “O Rocks Don’t Fall On Me.”

Another memorable workshop saw Bedouine, Cat Clyde, Boy Golden and their respective bandmates all collaborating together on the Sun Stage. Boy Golden (aka Liam Duncan) in particular took the ‘workshop’ aspect of the session to heart by playing songs that were not only new to the other performers joining him onstage, but ones he hadn’t even played live yet with his own band. That workshop was entitled “Afternoon Delight” and as Boy Golden noted at the end of the session, it was indeed a delight. As was the entire weekend. See you next year, Hillside.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Hillside