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18 Aug 06

wolfe island music festival 2006

the problem with going on vacation is that the wolfe island music fest is now old news…but of course, i’m going to write about it anyway, belatedly. last year’s line up was pretty fantastic, but virginia really outdid herself this year.

we arrived halfway through fat robot’s set. i’d heard of them via mitch because they seem to have taken the place of the radical dudez as kingston’s all-purpose local opener, and they were pretty enjoyable. they also took a page out of the dudez’ book by outfitting many of their friends with “fat robot concert team” t-shirts. nice touch.

the fembots inexplicably went on second. their set was predictably solid, especially once the vibraphone became audible. sadly, they were pretty much alone up on stage since no one was hanging out in the dirt pit (or, more accurately, the softball diamond’s infield) that the stage encroached upon. they didn’t seem too bothered by this, even joking that no one wants to sit in dirt.

great lake swimmers went on next, and were pretty much what i expected having listened to their albums. they’re talented and good song writers, but they’re best as background music for me – quiet and relaxed, featuring an acoustic guitar, banjo and drums. a standout was i will never see the sun (pointed out to me a couple weeks ago by robin), whose chorus of “i will never see the sun/spadina, st. george, bay and yonge” was apparently inspired by the singer’s subway trip to his old job.

next up, with the longest allocated set time of the day, was the chris brown all star band. i have NO idea how they went on after fembots and great lake swimmers, nor do i know how they were allocated a full hour, but like i said last year, they are unbelievably boring. at least last time i was able to say that they had “interesting outfits”…but not so this year. i just don’t get why they were even on this otherwise amazing bill…

jon-rae and the river are a band that everyone raves about, so, in spite of the fact that they nearly lulled me to sleep when i last saw them, i really wanted to like them. honestly though, i just couldn’t get past their female vocalist. i think i MIGHT like them better without her, but i really, i’m just not into the gospelish thing. i guess i’m the one person in toronto who feels this way.

holy fuck went on at 8 pm, and i commented initially that it’s too bad they went on so early – they are better suited to playing in the dark, bathed in red light. as the sun went down, the atmosphere improved, and they put on the best set i’ve seen from them. they had a bassist and even a cellist on a few songs, and they were pretty fantastic. high energy and engaging, which is pretty rare without much banter and with no vocals.

aside from the constantines (obviously), the hidden cameras stole the night. they had the crowd in their back pocket from the start, and played a much more interesting set than the last time i saw them. they played a lot of songs from their new album once again, but they were a lot of fun. it made me wonder why they weren’t on just before the constantines…

but that honour instead went to wintersleep. my impression of them ahead of time was a mid 90s pseudo-grunge throwback, but not in a creed/nickelback sorta way. i still sort of think that’s the case, but i did enjoy much of their set…that is, until it degenerated into a big long jamfest over the last 3 songs. nothing to write home about, but enjoyable. again though, i still don’t understand why they went on second to last. i kept looking at my watch as time went on, because i knew the longer they went, the less of the cons i’d get to see.

finally, the constantines took the stage about 15 minutes late. their set got off to a bit of a rough start sound-wise (i.e., all i could hear were deafening keyboards), but the energy of the set made that acceptable. they tore through songs from each of their albums and totally wowed the crowd, and even though i’ve seen them a bunch of times, i was still impressed. sadly, because they went on late, i had to leave during soon enough to catch the midnight ferry (rather than hanging out until 1:20 am in the freezingness). shamefully, i missed nighttime/anytime and shine a light. alas, 35 minutes of the cons is still better than an hour of most other bands. and while i’m on the subject, how on earth did tournament of hearts get overlooked in the polaris nominations? i’m just saying…

anyway, let’s summarize:
wolfe island lineup – amazing
wolfe island lineup order – questionable
weather – FREEZING (yes, still cold in jeans + shoes and socks + jacket)

[thanks, as always, to the fabulous suckingalemon for the photo].

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Pronunciation: 'ch&mp
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps blend of chunk and lump
Date: 1883

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