Hillside Day 3 Recap: Hoedowns, Rock Stacking, and Rain Soaked Everything

Posted on by Brian in Concerts, Hillside | 2 Comments


A full Hillside Music Festival recap is forthcoming, but since Day 2 got a quick recap with highlights from the festival and from my on-site Tweeting, I thought I’d give Day 3 the same treatment.

Day 3 at Hillside was most notably marked by rain. A lot of it. A whole ton of rain and thunderstorms that threw the scheduling completely out of whack for a while, caused huge puddles at the mainstage, and caused several people to feel a mild electric shock from a lightning strike that was just a little ways away and made the ground shake from where we were sitting. One guy got good video of it, along with some people playing in the mud and rain. If you haven’t seen this video, the lightning strike is at 0:35, take a look.


That view is from just off the main stage, you can see the tents that were in the background to the right of the stage in the picture I took above. We were actually hiding over near the spoken word stage when that happened, sharing my big green umbrella with some dude named Daniel. He seemed like a nice enough guy. We did get soaked, but I mostly got soaked because I went to go to the bathroom just before the hard rain hit, and I stepped out just as it started really coming down. True story, let no one ever say I’ve never used a portapotty in a thunderstorm. I even started to wash my hands in the portable outdoor sink before realizing the absurdity of it. Hey, washing my hands after going to the bathroom’s always been automatic for me, what can I say…

Anyway, our pre-thunderstorm highlight was definitely Dancehall Free For All, a fun six-piece from Guelph who managed to rival Ohbijou for the most adorable act of the festival, despite being much louder with occasional screaming vocals. I also caught the last part of Los Misioneros del Norte, who (and I swear this is true) had people doing an impromptu hoedown in front of the stage during their set. Post-thunderstorm, the biggest surprise was maybe David Francey, who played immediately after the storm on the main stage and proved to be the perfectly mellow, charming folk artist to calm the nerves after getting soaked. Later on, the Great Lake Swimmers put on a very tight set and generally making this whole ‘indie rock’ thing look easy. Patrick Watson…well, I like Patrick Watson and his band a lot, and I hate to say bad things about him, but Patrick and most (if not all) of his band were somewhat intoxicated. Patrick was giggling incessantly, which was kind of fun and kind of disconcerting at the same time. We stayed for the beginning of Final Fantasy but left after a couple of songs once the rain picked up again. We were lucky to be in the VIP parking area near the grounds, because reportedly the main parking area was a complete swamp. Someone else took a great video of Final Fantasy playing in the rain; we left just as he was starting this song, and I really don’t know if he even got back on the stage, or if the Skydiggers, who were supposed to play after him, ever got going.

Once again, some select highlights from my tweets from the grounds:

If a rock band can be labelled as adorable, thats dancehall free for all all over. Fun sound1:31 PM Jul 26th from mobile web

Los misionares are now covering ‘la bamba’. Impromptu hoedown in front of main stage, too funny #hillside1:37 PM Jul 26th from mobile web

Well that was fun. Huge dump of rain, lightning. Everything stopped for a bit and everyones soaked. Programming now restarting #hillside3:14 PM Jul 26th from mobile web

Best line of #hillside by david francey on seeing a man who looked like jesus: ‘holy jesus, it’s jesus’ (say it with scottish accent)3:58 PM Jul 26th from mobile web

Save us from this gaggle of idiot 20 year old girls who won’t shut up during great lakes swimmers #hillside7:33 PM Jul 26th from mobile web

Strong suspicion that patrick watson was not exactly sober during his set. He was giggling and slightly glazed. Funny tho #hillside8:52 PM Jul 26th from mobile web

Final fantasy is cool but the sky is angry again. Positioning ourselves for a dash to the car #hillside9:17 PM Jul 26th from mobile web

I’ll have a final recap of the fest tomorrow.

Hillside Day 2 Recap: Ohbijou, TPC, SPP and Surprising Dryness

Posted on by Brian in Concerts, Hillside | 2 Comments


Since we have no time this morning to post a full Day 2 recap, mostly because we had no energy to write it last night after getting off the grounds at close to midnight last night and passing out shortly after returning to our hotel after a solid 10+ hours of music festing, here is a quick update on Day 2 and what we’re anticipating as Day 3 begins.

The three highlights from yesterday were far and away Ohbijou, Tokyo Police Club and The Sunparlour Players. Delays seemed to hit all three stages, but Hillside tried their best to keep things moving. As a result, Ohbijou and Sunparlour Players appeared to have their sets cut short, while Tokyo Police Club was told at one point they had ten minutes left, then ten minutes later were told they had another ten minutes. Anyway, despite set delays, all three managed particularly tight sets and great performances. Pumpkin ice cream was again a highlight for Trina, and Sausage Brothers italian sausage and grilled corn on the cob was the height of the food fair.

Also, the lineup to enter the festival was not nearly as long as it was Friday night, though arriving at noon might’ve had something to do with that. Leaving the festival was actually not as bad as anticipated, as we waited around in the VIP parking lot for about 20 minutes listening to the new Sunparlour Players album Wave North, giving the crowd a chance to clear, and our strategy worked out pretty well. There was one big dump of rain around 2, but surprisingly, given the forecast, the day was mostly dry.

If you’re not following me on Twitter, here’s some of the highlights:

– Line for coffee far longer than line for beer right now. Already lightly raining could be wet day #hillside – about 23 hours ago from mobile web

– Dozens of people on stage for bruce peninsula. Bruce is apparently some kind of collective hive mind #hillside – about 22 hours ago from mobile web

– Ohbijou best of the day so far, for sure. Great set #hillside – about 19 hours ago from mobile web

– I think i’ve discovered a fetish for girls in rubber boots. Weird? #hillside – about 17 hours ago from mobile web

– If pearl jam grew up in newfoundland they would sound a lot like hey rosetta i think #hillside – about 15 hours ago from mobile web

My phone battery died two tweets after that. Again, if you’d like to follow me at Hillside again, I’m @brianjpike. If you follow me just for this weekend then unfollow, I’ll understand, I promise.

Today, Trina is most looking forward to Rural Alberta Advantage at 6 on the Lake Stage and Great Lake Swimmers at 7 on the main stage, while personally I’m kind of curious how Dave Bidini’s going to sound (Lake Stage, 3:00) and, as always, am looking forward to seeing Patrick Watson again (Main Stage, 8:00).

Forecast is once again for scattered thunderstorms throughout the day, but hey, those are just the risks we take for you people. The work of the independent blog site blogger that somehow got media passes is never done…

Sustainability at Hillside

Posted on by Brian in Concerts, Hillside | Leave a comment


My partner Trina writes this post about Hillside’s environmental/sustainability initiatives during the festival.

Hillside has some pretty amazing enviro-friendly measures they are employing.  None seem particularly challenging to do, for either the festival or the patrons (a must for successful sustainability, in my books) and I hope to see more festivals pick up on some of these:

1) Free shuttle bus from downtown Guelph.  This takes a tonne of cars off the road.  And given the lineup to get in via car on Friday night, this is a good thing for more than just environmental reasons.  They also promote carpooling.

2) Massive bike lock-up area (that I believe is also manned).  Even better than a bus.

3) No bottled water, water trucks on site provide it for free.  I’ve seen other festivals do this (Sled Island in Calgary,for one), but Hillside was also advertising the closing-time of the water trucks so that campers could fill up for the night.

4) Reusable dishes.  All food at Hillside is served on sturdy plastic plates, that are dumped after use into identified bins where volunteers wash ’em up for re-use.  Beer and beverages are served only in Hillside mugs, which are bought for $2.50 and used all weekend.  I can’t imagine how much waste this cuts down.  Brian and I also brought our own re-usable cutlery (when in Rome!).

5) Recycling AND composting.  I saw bins for both available outside the food tent.

6) Solar-powered stage.  The Sun Stage is small and used for spoken word acts only, but it’s a step in the right direction.

7) Enviro workshops.  You can walk (or bus, or bike) home from Hillside with a red-worm composter, homemade rain barrel, or knowledge on how to green your funeral.  A tag-line reads “How can my death make the lowest environmental impact?”

Happy sustainable Hillside-ing!

Hillside Music Fest Day 1: Coeur de Pirate, RPC, and Pumpkin Ice Cream

Posted on by Brian in Concerts, Hillside | 6 Comments


My partner and co-press pass holder Trina contributes to this review. Her comments appear in italics.

Hillside has a lot of charm. I’ve never been before, but I gather it’s grown a lot in it’s 26 years of existence. And while a certain part of me would like to complain about the drive to Guelph from Toronto during the early evening traffic, the very long lineup for parking and access to the site, the incongruities of us having to get our parking pass at the ticket tent past the people taking parking money (something we got around by me hiking up ahead of the car to the ticket tent, then hoofing it back to the car), and our resulting 8:30 arrival time, I’m just too damned charmed by this muddy, hippy, indie festival to really get irritated about any of that.

We were promised complimentary mainland parking with our media passes, which comes with either a shuttle bus ride or a lengthy walk from the parking lot to the Guelph Lake “island,” but were given VIP parking right next to the entrance. A pleasant surprise that made up completely for traffic woes, so kudos to Hillside for that. Since we were too late to catch Donovan Woods (or any of the 7:00 starters, for that matter), first up was Coeur de Pirate.

We arrived later than we wanted, but in time to catch the last half of Coeur de Pirate’s show. We walked in as my favorite Coeur song was just starting: Comme des enfants (which you can hear on our Panic@Hillside Playlist on Radio 3’s website). Coeur was great. Her reason for success: the ability to be completely adorable in that kitten-on-youtube kinda way while being absolutely classically beautiful.  Lovely vocals. Show ended with a cover of Rhianna’s Umbrella-ella-ella, clearly a crowd pleaser.

Coeur de Pirate does seem to have some magical ability to be utterly adorable onstage and come across as genuine. I can’t help but think of Melody Gardot, likewise a singer and piano player, and compare her set from the TO Jazz fest a few weeks ago, where practically everything seemed contrived. Also, one of Gardot’s songs came on the radio during the drive to Guelph. And she was singing in French. No comparison, really: Coeur blows her away. Read more