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

Concert Review: Frightened Rabbit, July 23, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 9 Comments

Toronto – Another Wednesday night in Toronto bodes another sold-out show at the Horseshoe. And surprise, surprise, it’s another band that has seemingly burst onto the Toronto hipster scene full-throttle. I didn’t know too much about Frightened Rabbit aside from the fact that they were rootsy rocky Scots, but I did like what I heard off their latest album Midnight Organ Flight. Namely Modern Leper and Heads Roll Off. I will admit though, that it didn’t fully occur to me how much lead vocalist Scott Hutchison sounded like a yowlier version of Adam Duritz (you remember, the dreadlocked lead singer from Counting Crows who landed all those choice Friends babes back in the 90’s).

Although the PM guys would disagree with me I think the real intrigue of the evening stemmed from Brooklyn’s ambient noise trio the Antlers. Nails on the chalkboard feedback aside I see a lot of potential here – and I say this in good faith even after they gave me an exaggerated case of tinnitus. I’m listening to some of their tracks right now and with the exception of Sylvia am wondering if this is the same band. They’re showing quite a bit of range and doing a bit of research now I see they’re being represented by Kip Kouri, the same guy who promoted the now defunct Dirty on Purpose. Maybe Kip has the same weakness for Spacemen 3-laced Nu Gaze as I do. These guys have a softer, more acoustic side that wasn’t represented by their eardrum-popping set last night though.  Here’s hoping there’s some future headlining potential.

The Antlers—July 22, 2009 @ Horseshoe Tavern by aboylikeme.
Photo courtesy of Jackman

As for Frightened Rabbit, I don’t think it was necessarily a bad show. I kind of liked a few Counting Crows songs in grade 9. Maybe you did too. There’s no shame in that although I’m going to say most of the FB fans at the show last night would probably beat you with their plaid shirts if you were to suggest as much. They have attracted an extremely loyal fanbase and who am I to say they’re undeserving? Nothing good is ever for everyone. A friend of mine has pointed out that they at least sound “sincere” — and indeed they did seem genuinely touched that they were playing in front of a capacity audience. Hutchison made reference to Torontonians’ superior taste, which predictably drove the crowd wild. I thought the band was quite good and have a sort of country-bear-jamboree-meets-grunge kinda feel. Actually that may not be even close to apt…but…I’m sleep deprived. And however you feel about Hutchison aside, it’s hard to deny he’s a clever lyricist.

Best performed song from their set: Old Old Fashioned
Worst performed song from their set: Heads Roll Off

Frightened Rabbit—July 22, 2009 @ Horseshoe Tavern by aboylikeme.
Photo courtesy of Jackman

**This is an unrelevant aside, but it seems that a number of ladies in the audience went notably moist as soon as the lead singer started a bit of banter with the audience simply due to his Scottish accent. Until now I had no idea an accent had such power. Feel free to impart your wisdom about this phenom upon me.

Preview: Hillside Music Festival 2009

Posted on by Brian in Concerts, Hillside | 4 Comments


With thanks to Trina and Wade

This weekend, July 24 through 26, is the 2009 edition of the Hillside Music Festival, taking place at Guelph Lake Island. Tickets are very nearly sold out, with only Friday night tix still available. Hillside boasts an impressive lineup of mostly Canadian music acts, alongside a spoken word stage and a lengthy workshop schedule.

If you’re not going, Panic Manual has you covered, as Hillside was nice enough to give us a couple of media passes. I’ll have some writing and reviews from Guelph all three days, and I might even provide some Twitter updates from the grounds if anyone’s interested (I’m @brianjpike).

And if you are going, no, I’m not camping, and no, you can’t crash in my hotel room.

You may have  looked at the three-day schedule or the list of performers and thought “I sure wish somebody could give me some ideas about who to see. I don’t know who a few/some/many/any of these bands are.” I was once like you. Then I consulted with my partner and lovely companion Trina, who’ll be joining me at the Festival, emailed our resident indie Canadian music expert Wade, and listened to many samples from MySpace and CBC Radio 3. As a result, we have some “official” Panic Manual recommendations for all three days of Hillside. We also have a playlist on Radio 3’s website where you can hear all our recommendations, in chronological order of when they’re playing too (nice work, Trina), which you can find by going to and do a User Playlist search for “PanicAtHillside”, or just use this handy dandy permalink straight to the playlist.

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