Wolfe Island Music Fest 2012
Saturday marked the fourteenth annual Wolfe Island Music Fest and what a hell of a festival it was this year. Once being feared as a day filled with rain earlier on in the week as being a day marred by Rain but the rain clouds stayed clear of Wolfe Island all day and night.
This day marked a day of firsts for every band except Little Scream, which at first took me by surprise. I couldn’t believe that I have never watched all these great acts before even though they have played Kingston many times before. For me there was a tie for the best set of the day between Zeus and Rich Aucoin and Sam Roberts.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to Wolfe Island until 4 in the afternoon as I had to wait out the 2 o’clock ferry so I missed out on most of Peter Elkas except for his last two songs as I was inline trying to get into the festival. After I found my way into the park gates I made my way back to the beer tent and picked up a couple of beer tickets and made my way to the front of the stage where there was really no one hanging around quite yet. Just as I sat down D-Sisive took to the stage with his DJ standing in the background. I wasn’t too impressed with his live set, especially when he was over dubbing the backing vocals with his own and missing the timing in parts. The set was filled with the pair talking back and forth between songs sometimes making jokes which the audience got a laugh out of and other times not so much. He did reincarnate himself a few times throughout his set by calling themselves, I mother Earth, Our Lady Peace and Tom Cochrane to name just a few. Their tribute to the Beastie Boys Adam Yauch consisted of D-Sisive standing at the back of the stage near the entrance and letting his DJ play a large selection of their hits.
Parlovr was a real hidden surprise for me during the day, as their vocal performance was one of the best of the WIMF for me. Their songs and sound ranged from British New Wave, rock and pop and it was their pop vocals which put them over the top. They were also one of the few bands to talk and interact with the audience, especially when they singled out a little girl “Quinn” dancing in the audience and asked for her name then dedicated their next song to her. During their set they changed the lead vocal duties around for different songs but by far their keyboardist/guitarist contained the best vocal performance for the band. The drummer also played a key role in many of their songs as he was relied on a few times to provide a few sweet sounding kick drum beats to keep the crowd dancing in the front rows. I was surprised that a band so early in the day brought people to their feet and formed a small crowd at the front of the stage. They managed to keep the crowd at the front of the stage until they finished their set. I’m pretty sure the next time they are in Kingston I am going to check these guys out again.
The set of Little Scream turned down the energy of the crowd and returned the audience back down to the grass during their set. This was the second time that I have watched Little Scream live and still I wasn’t really impressed with her set. I think a lot of it was due to the placing of her set I feel she should have been one of the first bands to play the festival this year, especially due to her folk/ambience sound. Her set did go well however with a beer and lying back in the field and just chilling out and relaxing. In the middle of her set she decided to go with a solo vocal song which at the end did receive the audience’s appreciation. There were a couple of different effects added into her set especially when it came to the guitar noise in her set, it was hard to tell if it was part of the song or if they were just playing a jam in front of us. Another beneficial effect that she used was her vocal loop effect that she used to finish off one song.
The set of Eight and a Half ran into a few sound problems during their set and unfortunately the negative conduct of front man Dave really led the guys down the wrong path for the rest of their set. It didn’t take Dave long into their first song before he began to curse and swear and show negative attitude, and unfortunately I’m pretty sure it hurt their overall performance for the rest of their set. After the fit that he put on I really just let their set slide and didn’t really pay all that much attention. Their sound was a definite flash back to the 80’s especially when it came to their keys. The vocals were pretty soft and were hidden under the energy and sound from the drums and the Keys.
Before Zeus could hit the stage they already amassed a large crowd in front of the stage at least 20 rows deep. They must have emptied out the entire campground area for their set. I still can’t believe that I have never watched these guys perform live before and now I know I will never miss one of their shows again after tonight’s performance. Right from the opening note they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. They also opened up the energy level for the rest of the night. While playing their own songs they also threw in one hell of Genesis cover with “That’s All”. Zeus thought that they would test the waters with a new song of theirs called “Sweet Tender”. I took me a couple of songs to finally figure out what band I have watched guitarist Neil before and it was with the Golden Dogs, it was one of those things that was bothering the hell out of me because I knew I heard his vocals before but I just couldn’t place it. To me Neil has the best rock vocals out of the band, especially when they play songs which sound as if they are straight out of the 70’s and with the dirty guitar riffs that they throw down. An awesome addition to their set was the fact that they were constantly switching instruments and vocal duties which made you guess and what was going to come next. The keys really made a huge difference and made their set stand out from the rest of the festival. To finish off their set they played the song which first brought me into listening to Zeus “Are You Gonna Waste My Time”.
I don’t think I have ever watched one musician ever control that many people before. I couldn’t believe the control he had on everybody in the audience they hung onto every word and did exactly what he asked of them. For someone who had all of their gear misplaced by an airline then to quickly have to make a new set and show up within a couple of hours was amazing, Rich had to borrow gear from a few people to make the set work. I was really impressed with the fact that kept the timing perfect throughout his set with the visual back drop. His set started off with about a five minute video production of classic shows and slides about the other musicians during the WIMF. Rich was the first musician to leave the stage and rock out with the audience, and he did this a few times during his set. The first time he left the stage he had the entire audience to crouch down for a few second then to spring back into their feet and then the WIMF went nuts. Next time he had everyone hook shoulder to shoulder and rock back and forth and pretty much everyone in attendance followed suit, then only to be outdone nearing the end of his set to come to the center of the crowd with their hands and form an enormous circle. My favourite song of his set was “It” which was also the song which made the crowd go nuts over the most.
Now for one of the most talked about acts of the night Sam Roberts band took to the stage to a roaring audience. I wasn’t sure what to expect during his set if he was going to play a mixture of older and newer songs or just his new songs and to the crowds delight and mine he played a mixture of all his songs. I tried to make my way up to the front for some photos but the crowd was pushing way too hard to get to the stage. Coming out onto the stage in a full denim outfit it didn’t take long for Sam to get right into it. While already having a full band Sam decided to add a member from Eight And A Half to the band and let him play Saxophone. I was really surprised by the noticeable difference that the Saxophone added throughout each song, to the point where it sounded as if it originally belonged to the song a few times. It didn’t take long for Sam to thank the audience and all the WIMF volunteers and organizers for putting on the show. Sam didn’t just stick to his electric guitar during the set he also picked up the acoustic as well. I got to hear most of the songs that I wanted to hear during his set, but I cut my stay a little short and opting to catch the earlier ferry back across and not try my luck at catching the last ferry across. I really wanted to hear “Don’t Walk Away” before I left but I heard that the song did get played. For the age gap that there was during his set it was great to see everyone pretty much were lyric for lyric when it came to his older tunes.