Monday, July 25, 2011

On Hillside


I'm totally spent after a few days of dancing in the hot sun and then biking home.  I'm struck by a few things I want to share while it's all fresh.  Unfortunately I took pics with a buddy's camera, so all my photos here are pilfered from other places.

The very best part:  When they put two bands together and have them jam when often they've never ever heard each other play!  The audience gets to see the creative process in the works.  Some of the musicians were obviously a bit uncomfortable at the beginning of the set trying to mesh with a totally different sound, and a few commented that they didn't understand that they'd be playing with someone else.  Even better, I think.  They always find that common ground by the end of the set.  And it's an amazing process to watch.
Two sets in particular stand out:  GANGA GiRi and Kim Churchill playing together.  They're both from Australia, but worlds apart.  GANGA GiRi was one of my favourites; they had a hip hop didgeridoo thing going on. Another reason I love when they mix bands is that I went to this one to see Kim Churchill after everyone raved about him.  I never expected I'd like didgeridoo music!  I would never have seen GANGA GiRi if they hadn't played together - nor opened my mind to yet another sound.

The most amazing set, hands down, was Graveyard Train and Les Tireux d'Roches.  Sometimes when they merge bands, only a few members of each play.  These bands both have six members, and they all came!  I went to see Graveyard Train, also from Australia, after seeing them the day before.  The band has an assortment of instruments, including chains and a hammer, and a vocalist with a voice to rival Tom Waits.  They're at the Horseshoe tonight (but I'm toast).  On their site they said, "Just played one of the most bananas gigs we've ever done - we got the Canadians crowd surfing!!!"  It's true.  The really crazy thing is this merged set was at one of the smaller stages with a mosh pit about 8' deep before you hit picnic tables - a little awkward for crowd surfing, but where there's a will...

Les Tireux d'Roches is a Quebec folklore band, and every song felt like it came from a different country.  Together they were phenomenal.  Their set-up and soundcheck took a long time, and they weren't allowed to go late, and did the crowd ever feel ripped-off!!  Just one more song.  Really, who's it going to hurt?  Because the thing is, that will never happen again. I am so thriilled to have been there for it!

Would they have minded if I had videotaped it???  I would have except once Ani Difranco flipped out at someone videotaping her show a few years back.  Maybe next time I'll ask just in case it's possible.

The bad part about Hillside is all the choices means inevitably missing something good.  During that Les Tireux de la Graveyard thing, I opted to dance two feet from the stage.   My friends, however, watched from a distance but with Kim Churchill and GANGA GiRi!  There's also many bands I missed out on because they were at the same time as something else.  I needed Hermiones' time turner necklace for this weekend for sure.

Other highlights:  Fred Penner.  That was something else.  I was hanging out there looking for a quiet space to re-charge, next thing I know, the place was packed, and not with kids, either!  And the line-up for autographs and pictures afterwards was crazy!  He got all the grown-ups singing along, and he invited other performers to play too.  It was actually a highlight of the weekend!

Also, I really loved Dan Mangan (particularly when he got everyone involved and how happy he was about it), Dala, The Stanfields, Emmanuel Jal, Dave Clark, and, of course, Mother Mother.
AND I'm always blown away by how truly environmentally on-the-ball the place is. Sorted trash, on-site compost (not green binned), reusable everything, free unbottled water...  Unbelievable.

But, you know what I hated?  I really, with a passion verging on murderous, hate cigars.  I mean, I really hate cigarettes, and cigars are multitudes worse.  They seem to be a new trend for the late teen set, and I don't get it.  I especially don't get why they need to smoke a cigar while standing in front of the stage for a 45 minute set.  People everywhere can make it for 45 minutes without a cigarette.  Why anyone has to smoke anything in the mosh pit absolutely baffles me.  It's only the Main Stage at Hillside that has this problem.  I suggested on their survey that 20' from the stage should be a no smoking zone.  If you want to smoke, you can't stand right in front of the stage.  It's just bad concert etiquette, kids.  Do we really have to tell you that?  AND, I must say, a few people are going to ruin it for the rest if they don't learn the art of discretion.

Next year I'm bringing a squirt gun for offenders.  Watch out!

No comments: