Sappyfest 2010 - Saturday Re-cap // PART 2

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It was about this point in the weekend where the reality of conflicting shows began to take hold – there was just no way to see every band that was playing at one time. Knowing this, we picked our battles, and headed around the back of Uncle Larry’s to find Cold Warps setting up in the back of a trailer, hauled by a minivan. After a quick soundcheck, the band pulled out on to the streets of Sackville (fingers crossed for not attracting too much attention) and around the block to the top of the closed off Bridge Street. As the band rolled into place, a crowd quickly started to gather as the first song kicked off – and we have to say, the back of a van proved to be a perfect place for this band to shine. Raw, un miced drums, and especially the vocals-into-a-Vox sound proved perfect for singer Paul Hammond’s rough yet melodic voice. Sounding like a perfect garage punk record, the band played through a great set of songs while being fed burgers from the crowd, as confused local passersbys stared out of their cars as they rolled through the intersection.

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As the set wound down, the opening riffs of Dog Day bleed through from the Main Stage, and the crowd melted back in that direction. Now working as a two piece, Dog Day’s sound was still almost as full as the previous four piece incarnation. Of course, great duel vocal hooks were always the mainstay of the Dog Day sound, and still being able to deliver those meant it was no surprise that they sounded as good as they did. While understandably less heavy than previous shows, the band put on a great show to cap off the first main stage set – none the less, feeling the wear of the long afternoon, we opted to return home for a brief time to recharge with some downtime and snacks.

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Rest or no rest, we were still determined to make it back to the main stage for Contrived, who had been bumped down from the late show at Uncle Larry’s to near the start of the day’s second Main Stage lineup. Knowing we’d be hard pressed to pry ourselves away from the tent once the music began, we stocked up on water and cash for more delicious, organic Sappy burgers. Contrived were, as always, fantastically heavy and melodic, pulling out old songs and a new jam, which bassist Mike Bigelow informed us had occupied most of band’s rehearsals before the show. It was a rare treat to see these guys all assembled between Wintersleep’s often hectic touring schedule, and they didn’t disappoint.

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Determined to stay awake all night if needed, we spent the next set chowing down on burgers, scrounging up more coffee, and scoping out the massive merch tables, stocked with everything from band CDs, LPs, and t-shirts, to Sappyfest posters, bags, and pins. Unfamiliar with Toronto’s Jim Guthrie (who was apparently a little unfamiliar with us – at one point he may have asked the crowd, who lived “here in Sappy?”), and expecting another low-key folk rock solo set, we were pleasantly surprised to find a full, 6 or 7 piece band on stage. While there was certainly an underlying core of vocal, pop/folk songwriting, Guthrie’s backup band concentrated on a rich, orchestral sound that was almost akin to Godspeed You Black Emperor or some unknown to us, jazz pop ensemble. The songwriting was happily scarce on the I-IV-V cliché folk sound and more akin to classic Brian Eno pop or up-coming headliner Chad Vangaalen one man indie rock. As much as we enjoyed it, we can’t really describe the sound of this band, so check out the video below and hear for yourself.

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The next band took a 180 degree turn from Jim Guthrie, and then drove right off a cliff. Toronto’s husband-wife duo Lullabye Arkestra threw down a huge slab of thick, grinding, in your face stoner rock that harked back to Melvins, Motorhead, and Death from Above 1979. The sound was raw and intense, and heavy on the lights and fog. Probably the two most memorable moments of a fantastic set were the churning mosh pit (someone no one else at Sappyfest has ever managed to incite, as far as we know!) and the grand finale flaming snare drum trick. While the size of their crowd probably had as much to do with show closer Chad Vangaalen as the popularity of the band, there was no doubt that everyone was blown away, especially those who didn’t expect anything but more safe and chill smart rock vibes. We think it’s safe to say these guys tore Sappyfest a new one – their energy was pretty much unmatched throughout the weekend.

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Of course, no one in the crowd was budging after that, regardless of thirst, hunger, or mosh pit bruises. Despite brief rumours of cancellation, Chad VanGaalen quickly took the stage to great crowd appreciation. Though, as he informed the crowd, he typically played solo, he (and we) were lucky enough to have several musicians to back him up, including a drummer (which made a great set much better in our opinion – despite the simple drumming a lot of songs relied on the rhythmic framework to carry them, and it kept up the energy and volume that a Saturday night headliner needed). We managed to catch the majority of his songs, though the sightlines in the absolutely packed tent (spilled back into the merch tent) made it hard to see – but what we heard was fantastic.

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None the less we figured we needed to beat the crowd rush and we ducked into Uncle Larry’s to grab a quick, relaxed drink at the bar before the place started to fill up. I wasn’t really sure what sort of crowd to expect for the show – Metz and of course, one of Dan's favourite bands of all time: Rockets Red Glare. Of course there were a couple of competing shows, Including Horses, Snailhouse, and the IRiSs Lab experimental film show, all in the same 12am – 2am timeslot. None the less there was a healthy crowd for both Metz and RRG.

Metz played a great sweaty show that easily lived up to the last time we saw them, sometime last year in Halifax. The band is on tour right now and looked pretty pleased to be playing to a good, appreciative crowd. Unfortunately the higher volume of the bands made for a couple problems; some of our party (and like others at the back of the crowd) bowed out due to the volume, and the room (which thereto sounded pretty good) got a little mushy sounding as everything bounced back into the mics from high ceilings and large plate glass windows.

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Fortunately we, well equipped with ear plugs, had a pretty good spot right at the front for both sets. When Rockets Red Glare came on and the lights went dark, you could almost feel the tension in the crowd. RRG didn’t disappoint for a second, with sparse, angular songs creeping up in volume to the inevitable vocal peak. Drummer Gus Weinkauf’s snare drum hand seemed to be floating in the air over the non-stop shuffle interspersed by spastic, rapid fire tom rolls, and of course the incessant stepped hi-hat that seemed to compete no problem with cranked up guitar and thick, syncopated basslines. Overall it was a pretty mind blowing show, and being the highlight of our weekend, we weren’t really thinking about it, just absorbing wave after wave of intense riffs and desperate vocals. Apparently we did manage to take at least one video, so if you missed this show, check it out and prepare yourself for when these guys bit the Pop Explosion in the fall.

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Stay tuned for Sappy Sunday!!
The last in 4 Sappyfest Re-caps.


TNaugler

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