Wolfe Island Music Fest 2011

2011 Wolfe Island Music Fest for me was the best yet. I
still had a hard time believing that I was at a live concert for over ten hours
on Saturday night. The sequence of the musicians couldn’t have been put
together any better. The rolling tempo and genres which played throughout
Saturday flowed within each other and only complimented the previous and following
acts. Opening up the festival was a local act called Wildering. With a mixture
of pop/rock songs which were at about a mid to slow tempo range. They bounced
around a little mixing up the tempo of their set. One topic which for some
reason or another that kept coming up was puberty, the lead singer went on to
explain that since the band all endured puberty at the same time this made a
tighter bond between each member of the band. One of their slowest tempo songs
came at around midway through their set as the song was written for the lead singer’s
friend. The harmonies throughout the song were a definite strong statement for
the band. While mostly relying on the harmonies for the song there was a quiet
bass and drum line which was playing in the background of the song while the
rest of the band took a break for the song. This show marked their first appearance
at the Wolfe Island Music Fest and their biggest show to date.

Up next was Evening
Hymns.  The lead singer opened up their set
with a nice opening solo song before inviting the rest of the band out, along
with the band he invited Wooden Sky’s front man out to the stage as well to
play along with them. Their second song opened up with a nice soft lead string
picking intro, for an added percussion sound the drummer was using thick rubber
tipped drum sticks. Unfortunately during a couple of their songs they had a few
moments which aired dead silence, the lead singer tried to intervene this with
an announcement of the special guest being The Northern Pikes. Following the announcement
they greeted us with a new song which was written about a cabin off of an old
logging road, the song had their best sounding harmonics of their set. Trying
not to out do the harmonics the lead guitar was being quietly and gingerly played
along with the Wooden Sky’s front man mainly relying on one main chord and
gently string picking as well. Their last song in their set picked up the tempo
ten fold which created the audience in inviting themselves to join in on the
intro by clapping along.

Jennifer Castle single handily took the stage by
herself and exploded with I would say a tie with the second best vocal
performance of the day. Guiding under 70’s folk/rock female artists Jennifer
powered her way through her set. Tagging along with her vocals she brought onstage
a electric guitar which to me played a minor part in her performance. While playing
her guitar very softly and light string picking throughout many of her songs. The
response which she received after each song only proved the audiences
gratification of her performance. One notable song for me was her “highway song”
the lyrics in this song took a bit more of a left turn comparing to most other
lyrics throughout her set. One of my favourite lines in this song was “Smoke
another joint I think I’m going to die”. Jennifer finished out her set on a
softer note.

Opening their set with a slower tempo was Forest City Lovers, by their
third song they had moved the tempo up. The addition of the violin really added
another dimension to their songs. The violin helped fill in possible voids in
between verses in a couple of songs. Playing newer and older songs from their
catalogue moved members around to different instruments at times during their set.
I really liked their song “Constellation”. While there was a quick moment of
freedom for the drummer in the song he decided to stand up on his drum set for
a few seconds which caught the rest of the band off guard and created a good
battle of laughter while trying to finish out the song. The Wooden Sky opened
up with a song which they wrote after being in the crowd at a Queens homecoming
one year. Some of the lyrics were craftily created to capture the atmosphere of
the night. Their second song with the addition of the keys I would say was a
good takeoff of a Blue Rodeo song or two. In between songs you could see the
lead singer asking the rest of the band if they wanted to play the loud
versions of each song some got the go ahead and some did not. The violin was
another nice addition to their set even though the instrument only made a few
appearances throughout. The harmonies especially during their slower songs
really hit the mark and also helped set a different tone in their set. While
playing a couple of their older songs they decided to throw in a couple of
songs which they had just finished working on and are in the process of
recording. The newer songs are mainly derived as vocal power songs, having a
bit of a slower tempo the songs really focused on the lead singer.

Jenn Grant
followed The Wooden Sky with my favourite vocal performance of the day. This
was the first time that I have been able to watch Jenn Grant play live after
missing so many of her shows in Kingston so far. She came out to the stage as a
duo with a keyboardist/ guitarist tagging along. For her third song she had a
prerecorded drum beat ready to go on her keyboard she also played along with
her electric guitar as well during the song. “Parliament Of Owls” really stuck
out to me during her set, while still having her guitar strapped around her
shoulder she unhooked her mic and spread out the song by moving around the
stage from side to side. During the song “Dreamer” the backing guitar really
added a nice effect to the song which helped compliment Jenn’s vocals; the synth
also had a big factor in the song as well. As her set continued the tempo
changed throughout as she was building up her set towards the end her vocals
still outshone everything else which was being played on stage. She dedicated
her next song for Buck 65 following with a Tom Petty Cover. During her last
song Jenn really took full advantage of all the pickups of her guitar which in
turn gave her a more rougher/rustier sound to go along with gentle vocals.

Ps I
love U finally brought the audience to their feet and slowly but quickly filled
the front of the stage. They started off their set with the Bass amp cranked
probably as loud as it could possibly go which made every chord rip through my
entire body. For their song about the Wolfe Island Ferry the audience gave a
loud cheer once they heard the song being played. By this time I don’t know how
the speakers could put up with the punishment which Paul was giving them.
Halfway through the set Paul broke a string but didn’t phase him a bit as he
kept on playing till the song was finished. I was really taken away by how his
shrieks and screams fell into place so easily with their songs; they were not
out of place at all. His set has come a long way since the first time I saw him
at the Wolfe Island Music Fest in 2009. Throughout their set I found myself
watching Paul pull off riff after riff throughout the entire set. No wonder
they are finally getting the attention which they deserve for their music.
Plants and Animals filled the front of the stage a little bit more and pushed
back the sitting crowd a little bit more as well. Their entrance was the most
energetic entrance of the night; they didn’t waste any time getting down to
business. They did a real good job in feeding off the energy from the audience.
While sharing lead guitar duties they both throughout the set came out with
riff after riff. About halfway through their set they had the audience clapping
along and singing along with the lyrics to almost every song. Crowd surfing
started to appear during their set but quickly faded out as the first person
met the ground rather quickly. To finish off their set they played “Bye Bye Bye”.

Now it was time for the special guest of the night, I knew who it was earlier
on in the day as I was backstage and saw Shad walking around in the artist
tent. Some people knew who it was by the gear and the backing band who was
slowly taking to the stage. When the host of the day came out and asked if they
knew he was met with a few responses with the correct answer. Shad came out and
said he originally wanted to play “Return Of The Mack” to throw people off but
instead he played the opening couple lines to the song. There was no need to
bring any of your own weed out for this set as it was everywhere throughout
Shad’s set, all you could see was smoke leading from the audience up onto the
stage throughout his set.  I was
surprised by all of the preloaded backing tracks which Shad had, I thought with
a DJ on stage they would have been minimum but they became a major factor in
his set. Even the bass player was mostly at the sidelines for the set, he did
however get a chance during a interlude in a song to show off his skills which
probably lasted for a minute or so then it was the DJ’s turn to show off what
he had. I found myself listening to what Shad had to say in his lyrics more
than what I cared for the backing tracks, especially when he started to add in
80’s wrestler names to a song. He really blended 80’s hip hop and new hip hop
very well together, but it was the lyrics which did it for me. He spent most of
his set at the hands of the front row audience.

 To finish off his set he went through a
freestyle bit without his band.  The Stars
took a little longer to setup than I thought it was going to take since they
held up the starting of the festival with their sound check at the start of the
day. This was the first time which I really have listened to the Stars before
and I was pleasantly surprised with their sound. He first half dozen of roses
didn’t last very long into their set as they were quickly broken up and thrown
into the audience. My favourite song of their set was diffidently “Take Me To
The Riot” I thought I was going to have to wait until the end of their set to
hear the song but they played the song relatively quicker than I thought they
were going to play it. The crowd surfing started to become more and more
frequent now as one person was put down another was getting up. I was surprised
by how quickly the front of the stage became jammed with people I actually had
to leave because I was getting pushed around a little to much for my liking and
I have been to some packed concerts before but here people were trying to get
as close to the stage as possible. I found myself watching the keyboardist play
the most as I was amazed that he was stretching himself across three keyboards
at any given time during each song. The energy level was also put out to its
fullest until the very end of the night, The stars picked up where everyone
else left off and finished out the 2011 edition of The Wolfe Island Music Fest.