As we get ready for the final day of Hillside 2010, here are some of the highlights of the festival so far, aside from the spectacular sunset on Friday night pictured above:
- On Friday night, my favourite set was from self-styled “acid folk” band Lee Harvey Osmond. Despite having looked them up online a month ago, by the time the festival rolled around I’d completely forgotten that this was Tom Wilson’s new band. Lee Harvey Osmond even played a rendition of Wilson’s old band’s big radio hit, the Junkhouse tune “Shine,” which brought me right back to high school. Wilson is also t had fellow Blackie and the Rodeo Kings member Stephen Fearing sit in on this set. The result was an energetic and loud set that will have me looking studiously for Lee Harvey Osmond’s name on concert listings from now on.
- Speaking of Stephen Fearing, his solo set on Saturday was one of the best I saw on that day. Comparatively quiet and contemplative, Fearing played alone with his guitar, accompanied on a few songs by Irish singer-songwriter Andy White. Fearing played tracks from his new best of album called The Man Who Married Music, including the title track, and was low-key and charming throughout. He strongly hinted that he’ll be sitting in on White’s set today, so we’ll likely check that out.
- Getting back to Friday, aside from Lee Harvey Osmond’s set I wandered the grounds quite a bit, hearing little bits of most of the performer’s sets until I left to drive back to Toronto a little after 9. Laura Marling impressed me a little; my intial impression was that she was something of a poor man’s Beth Orton, but her voice is distinctive enough and she’s a good songwriter. The Warped 45s were ok, and I really dug a couple of the Hidden Cameras tunes.
- And yes, I did arrive early enough to see Beardyman, who instantly became the best beatboxer I’ve ever seen live. However, once the novelty of “wow, he’s making all this music with just his own voice and a sampler” wears off, well, it turns into nondescript Eurobeat dance music pretty quickly. It’s fun to see for a little while, but I can’t imagine sitting through a whole set from this guy.
- Other than Fearing, some of my other Saturday highlights were My Son the Hurricane, Michou and Grand Analog. My Son the Hurricane sounds like what you’d get if Dancehall Free For All were the backing band for Rage Against the Machine’s Zach de la Rocha, if de la Rocha were from Guelph. I think that’s kind of the idea. Lots of horns, lots of volume, and lots of fun. I was making Twitter jokes about the age of Michou’s band members, but they put together a solid set that was thoroughly enjoyable. And Grand Analog turned out to be a great ending to the night after I found both Los Lobos and Japandroids’ sets a bit lacking. Fronted by MC Odario Williams, Grand Analog had the whole Lake Stage tent moving to their brash hip hop.
- Meanwhile, Trina particularly enjoyed The Acorn and The Good Lovelies, sets I saw little or none of, and Basia Bulat. The Acorn had a few technical difficulties but recovered well, and like many bands they loudly proclaimed their love for and longtime patronage of the Hillside Festival. The Good Lovelies told some entertaining stories, both in song and through their between-song anecdotes, singing pretty harmonies and telling stories like playing with Fred Penner at another festival. Basia overcame a brief rain delay to really put on a beautiful, if slightly rushed, set. Her voice and charm quickly had the crowd swooning.
We’re minutes away from heading out for Hillside’s Sunday lineup, and hoping that the rain holds off today. Friday and Saturday were good, but Sunday should be even better.