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Hillside thoughts and highlights ...


mark tonin
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I had a wonderful time at this year's Hillside festival! This was first Hillside I've been to in the last 3 or 4 years, and I now remember why I've always liked this festival so much.

This festival brings together so many solid people ... people who care about the environment, people who care about community, people who care. It scores very high on the "crunchy granola" factor. I also love this festival because it always provides an opportunity to connect with friends who I haven't seen in a while.

Musically, I there was lots that I enjoyed, but the absolute highlight for me was The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir on the main stage on Saturday night. Wow!!! They absolutely blew me away. Very soulful, very danceable, very emotional, very tight! I would go and see them again for sure. Hopefully they will get enough positive feedback from this show to play some more shows.

The Abrams Brothers on Friday night were a heck of a lot of fun. Excellent players, and even more impressive given that they are still teenagers. Plus it was great to see them playing with their "family band."

Sunday's musical highlight for me was Mr. Something Something. There is something about that band that inspires tribal dancing. Yes, they have a beautiful female dancer on stage, and their front man has a huge amout of dancing energy and charisma, but I think it is the drummer that makes it happen for me. So tight.

I hope to add more to this thread later on, but this is it for now as "work" is calling ...

Peace, Mark

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nice review mark. i had a great time at hillside too. agreed, the Bourbon's and Mr. Something Something's sets were great and i also really enjoyed The Magic, Dubblestandart, Black Cabbage, Cowboy Junkies, Hawksley Workman, BSS and Spiral Beach too. Ron Sexsmith's surprise performance was also a special treat. there really wasnt much i didnt like, although the Islands were a bit disappointing (and rude). a lot of cool 25th anniversary stuff all around the site too.

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Nothing like a little online razing! Don't ruin my happy hippy crunchy granola feel-good trip man! ;):)

I'd never seen or really heard much of the Bourbon Tabernacle choir until Saturday night at Hillside. I didn't really know what to expect. I'd certainly heard of the band, and I've seen some of the members in the band in other projects (in particular Chris Brown & Kate Fenner), but I had no idea what I was about to experience when they hit the stage. I'm sure that I wasn't alone, as this band hasn't been on a stage together for 13 years. Apparantly they rehearsed together for the week leading up to Hillside, and I could tell, as it was tight, yet fresh. This band was so excited to be on stage ... the energy and emotion was amazing!

First of all ... the vocals! Wow! We're talking blow your head off, make your emotions tingle vocals. The male lead vocalist (is his name Dave Wall?) was phenomenal. As was Kate Fenner. Amazing voices. Add Chris Brown's voice to the mix, and the voices of others in the band, and you've got the recipe for a band that hits you in the soul. At one point Chris Brown introduced a song about his dad or dedicated to his dad, and talked about how the band members are older now and have their own kids. The song that followed was one of the most emotional pieces of music that I've heard in a long time. Chris joined the horn section for this song ... and talk about a killer horn section. Chris usually plays the organ, and I'd seen him join some other bands earlier on one of the smaller stages.

Before they started, I didn't realize that this band would be so funky and groovy. It's not all that they do, but wow, they exude funk and soul. Feel good music because it taps the soul. Killer grooves. Tasty guitar. This band has it all.

This show ranks right up there as one of my favourite shows of 2008 so far. Right up there with the Phil Lesh show from 2 weeks ago. I certainly hope that I don't have to wait 13 years to see this band again. They should be playing venues like Massey Hall.

Peace, Mark

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I wasn't at the main stage for the end of their set, but that's a drag about the Islands lack of professionalism and tact. One "problem" at Hillside is that the set times allotted to bands are short to begin with, so bands sometimes don't have enough playing time to really do their thing, especially if things get slightly behind. Many bands and performers seemed to make this comment on stage over the course of the weekend (comments about short sets), but everybody that I heard (for example Sue Foley, Mr. Something Something, The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir) made comments in a positive and tactful way.

Other bands/performers that I heard and enjoyed include The Magic (with an 80's / Talking Heads sound), Plants & Animals, The Sadies, Kelly Joe Phelps (bluesy acoustic player), Sue Foley (I knew she could play blues guitar, but what really impressed me was when she played flamingo style guitar for a song), and a couple of collaborations, one called "Lay It To Rest" which featured a bunch of acoustic guitar players and another called "Crossing All Borders" with members of Moshav and Taxi Chain.

Bands/performers that I wish I could have checked out but couldn't make it for various reasons include Bell Orchestre, "Chordus Diabolicus" which included members from The Burning Hell and Akron/Family, Harry Manx, and the Sunday Gospel session.

Peace, Mark

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I saw Akron/Family. They absolutely ripped it up and definitely went home with the most notable set of the weekend.

Mr Something Something was pretty solid though I think the politics were a bit of a detraction to some in the late Sunday tired crowd and thus the dancing was not as excited as I thought it might be.

Enjoyed the Sadies, Good Brothers, Thunderheist and the Abrams Brothers as well as Broken Social Scene and Culture Reject.

I thought the bill overall was a little uninteresting given the 25 year anniversary celebration, but I rarely felt like I should be somewhere else and that's a bonus.

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the neighbours at guelph lake are the campers, who were largely there for the festival and wouldn't likely be sleeping anyways since the show would have just been ending. oh well. i wasn't there so maybe there's more to the story than was reported here.

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there are actually many houses in the area, not just campers. but ok sure, fuck the neighbours, play all night, breach the contract between with the GRCA and the City. and enjoy the last hillside.

im not so old to not still see the need for the rock and roll rebel, but sorry, the curfew is a long established rule negotiated over years between a number of parties. breaking the curfew in this situation is like going to someone's parents' house in high school and pissing all over the living room or smashing the TV. if you think thats fun, then you think that fun. what can i say?

the bands are told well in advance of the tight time limits. they knew. in fact, they actually f'd around setting up that they ate into their own set time.

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they (probably) weren't planning on playing all night, and i doubt their goal was to shut down Hillside forever. Sounds like they were enjoying playing music for the audience at the music festival.

oh well. did they play well? how was their performance up until the curfew time?

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I saw Akron/Family. They absolutely ripped it up and definitely went home with the most notable set of the weekend.

I did not see this, but heard from a few people that it was a great set. I was all set to check out Akron/Family on Saturday, but they had border issues and didn't make it for their set. Unfortunately I couldn't make it for their set on Sunday.

three words and a classic rock and roll move = lack of professionalism and rudeness?

I'm not sure how it came across on stage, as I wasn't there to hear it. So I'm not sure if it really was that unprofessional and rude. Having said that, I'm not sure if this "classic rock and roll move" fits with the spirit of Hillside. [color:purple]Maybe they should have broken a few guitars instead. :)

Peace, Mark

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I'm not sure how it came across on stage, as I wasn't there to hear it. So I'm not sure if it really was that unprofessional and rude.

it wasnt that bad at all. most people were into their set and they tried to play past curfew, that's all. of course the crowd wanted them to keep playing. it was just rather awkward when the MC had to come out and explain, 'sorry, we're done', prompting the fuck the neighbours comment. although, to be honest, i dont think ive ever heard of them having to turn off mics on anyone before, lol.

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