And so here it is: my last night of the festival. It’s been a blast and it was great to check out both Sneaky Dee’s and the Bovine Sex Club. My final night brought me back to the Bovine, and there was a deep-set sense of home with a multitude of familiar faces that I met throughout the week. It was like a final episode of a long-running television series sense of finality, especially when A Gentleman’s Pact manager, Sabrina, came up to the bar and we shot the shit at length about the festival as the first act came on.
You wouldn’t really see a folk rock musician in the Bovine unless they were somehow related to punk or rock. Take Seth Anderson for example, blending elements of folk, rock, punk, and a splash of alternative country. He’s our first up, and the Alberta native aims to please.
Anderson really presents an interesting narrative with folk music making a charming story. With the token of country alone, he’s different from other hard punk bands that tend to frequent the Bovine, so it’s an ease-in kind of opening. He’s the kind of country boy musician that girls can fall for and guys can respect. He even shared an anecdote about how he was kicked out of this very venue a few years ago. “I heard that everyone gets kicked out of the Bovine at some point though”.
Next up was KJ Jansen from Chixdiggit! If you haven’t heard of this light-hearted Beavis and Butthead-like band, they started out as a fictitious concept in the early 1990’s by a bunch of high school students. Chixdiggit! was realized soon after and the guys from Calgary released their self-titled debut album in ’96. Tonight, it was just the lead singer and guitarist, KJ Jansen, who hit the stage.
Jansen’s equal parts comedian and artist in his performance, being pretty imaginative in his audience interaction. He gave a small group of people in the front row a list of his songs to announce to him. Since he’s so funny, it comes as no surprise that his music is laden with humour with lines like “we’ll whip our hair ‘til we get erections”. There wasn’t a person who didn’t at least smile at his nothing-held-back attitude.
The Beaches are from Toronto, naming their band name after the part of the city where they live which is (unsurprisingly) the beaches. They’re the unrelenting force of fem-rock that’s been on the indie scene for about six years. They value solidarity and in rallying together, they inspire others to do the same.
There’s something sort of ‘80s about The Beaches, though there’s a decisive blend of modern and classic rock. In a word of cookie-cutter bands, we as a nation – hell, as a species need more fem rock.
We Are Monroe is a self-introductory band in name alone, but let me see if I can do them any more justice: they’re a four-piece band from Montreal that have gotten by on live performances before releasing an EP in 2015 called the Funeral EP. The prognosis isn’t grim though, since they’ve been steadily gaining momentum.
The vocal style certainly stands out from most bands and the instrumentals are as soft-spoken as well. Their tracks barely stray from the smooth even nature that their style demands.
Finally, we’ve got Tommy Stinson, the single-man act from Hudson, New York. He was most notably the bassist for Guns n’ Roses between ’98 up until this year after the original bassist, Duff McKagan, rejoined the group. He started off in The Replacements and also did work with Soul Asylum This isn’t Stinson’s first rodeo as a soloist, his first album was actually released in 2004 called Village Gorilla Head. His style is pretty smooth which is surprising considering he worked with some more hardcore groups. Stinson’s vocals are very comparable to that that of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.
Walking the streets of Toronto, different venues continued to rock on, drawing attention from street walkers, late-night workers, and enthusiasts alike. It’s been a great festival for everyone: for bands to get their name out there and really connect with their fans on a metropolitan level; for attendees who can make a night (or a week) of it; and for writers, photographers, and other opportunists. The sense of community is what keeps people coming back, and that’s something we can count of these festivals to hold on to.
Feature Image credit: Kristin Linney