Great Lake Swimmers

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.

NXNE: Great Lake Swimmers, Reverb, June 13

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, North By Northeast | Leave a comment

Toronto – I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t really know much about Great Lake Swimmers. In fact, I pretty much knew nothing about any of the bands I saw this weekend. Maybe that’s a good thing, it’s a fresh view on these bands that many bloggers swoon about. What I did know was this: The Great Lake Swimmers are an extremely popular Toronto band that focuses on the mellower-folky side of rock. They are led by Tony Dekker, who a friend of mine wants to stalk, and they are championed by CBC Radio 3, the source of cool for many people. So it was with this knowledge that I brought to the Reverb on Friday night for their NXNE showcase.

The Reverb is a funny place. The only other time I was there was to see Feist as part of NXNE a few years ago, and that show was so packed I felt like a Chinese immigrant on a cargo ship. This time around, the place was not as packed and from what I gather, the Reverb is a nice quiet intimate place. The stage dominates the middle of the area, and there are three bar areas and I think you can get a good view from everywhere. Not too bad for a venue located at Hobo corner.

The threesome took the stage quietly at around 10:00 after the CBC dude introduced them. At this point the place was filling up, only the people who got here around 10 were all soaked from the monsoon that was outside. Nothing like a packed house full of rain drenched people to make the place smell all nice and rosy. In a very business like manner, the band started playing a song. probably off their most recent album – Onigiara. There was an acoustic guitar, a banjo and a drum. I think this was the instruments du jour.

What can I say? the dude has a soothing voice and he knows how to use an acoustic guitar. The next fourty minutes demonstrated the bands excellent skillz at ze acoustic folk rock. It was mostly a mellow affair, although towards the end, the drums were a little faster, the guitar a little stronger and the sound a bit more rockier, leading some librarians to saying ‘now this… is a rock show’. Whatever. I think the show was pretty good and if you like stuff like Iron and Wine, and Sir Sufjan, then Great Lake Swimmers is right down your alley.

You can stream the Great Lake Swimmers album here. Stream…Lake…get it? haha.