So...to truly describe this new festival in
But recently, there has been a shift in local politics and attitudes. There is a concerted effort to promote
TURF was created...its site in the downtown core of
A lot of planning later. and the event was upon us.
While TURF hopes to expand to three stages in the years to come, with a new stage dedicated to introducing local independent artists, it opens this year with two stages with no overlapping of bands. When a band finishes on the east stage, you have time to grab a drink. and wander over to the west stage as the next band comes on. Perfect for seeing all the bands. All the food vendors are small independent local operations and that is a considerable upgrade from the normal pizza slice offer. Tents full of free offers that include ice tea, vitamin water. help out staying hydrated as well as the free water kiosks where you can fill up your reusable water bottles whenever you like.
Thursday lineup starts with Barr Brothers (MontrÃ©al based rock band) Camera Obscura, Joel Plaskett and She & Him. Obviously a lot of people are here to see She & Him but Barr Brothers start things off very well with beautiful 4 part harmonies. a great set of rock n roll that pleases the early crowd.
Off to the other stage for another wonderful hour long set of new and old Camera Obscura songs. The band are almost afraid of the sun. and apparently its too hot for them! ..guess they are not use to playing music festivals when its warm but it doesn't effect their set. Another great response for their hour long set with plenty of sing a longs!
Now its time to grab a beer and wander over to see Joel Plaskett's set. Joel is very very popular here in
If you are a fan, you would have been pleased. the band is fantastic and Zoey is a lovely singer, but I guess the "no cell phone/camera photo" announcements and the signs they have had to post everywhere regarding taking photo's just seemed to be an odd way to approach a festival show to me. The band has done this before so no surprise, just thought the vibe would be a bit different here but a solid show nonetheless and now a simple walk out of the park and I can’t wait until we come back for the next nights schedule.
Friday night starts off with JD McPherson..a fantastic rock-a-billy, blues rock artist. and clearly the early crowd is enjoying this guy’s...fantastic little band. Then its over to the east stage for Justin Townes Earle Steve Earle's son, his alt country songs and onstage banter is pretty fantastic.
Another short walk after Justin's hour long set and we are about to watch Fitz and the Tantrums. The crowd is bigger but I would guess there are a lot here that have never heard of the band before. Having seen them at SXSW before, we knew a big dance party was about to start and there was...it was full on. Great seeing a crowd who had no expectations in advance but, were clearly enjoying what they were seeing and hearing. These guys do bring the festival to a new level, everyone is responding and the catchy songs are preparing people for the dance party that is going to continue with the next band, the Arkells.
Back to the west stage and The Arkells play a blasting set of pure fun rock n roll. The are quite popular in
Saturday schedule features, Larry & his Flask, Hannah Georgas, Felice Brothers, Skydiggers, Dawes, Matt Mays, Frank Turner, Lowest of the Low, Hold Steady and Flogging Molly. Some of these are local favourites, with Hannah Georgas (Feist like ..beautiful voice and clever songs) Skydiggers (roots rock band that have been around for years) Matt Mays..(no nonsense straight ahead rock n roll) and Lowest of the Low (very popular in
Larry & his Flask...
I love being on a field like this with so many people being civilized, happy and dancing all at the same time. just love it! Their encore includes an appearance by Frank Turner to join the band for a song, ..well. at least half a song as someone failed to tell Hold Steady stage folks that Frank was coming on and thought he was a stage invader and they dragged him off! After some laughs and a few hugs between Craig Finn and Frank...encore continues and the band has provided one of the many highlights of the festival.
Next up...another huge dance party as Flogging Molly kicks off the East stage with Irish jigs and Celtic punk songs and its clear there are ALOT of people here just to see them. More dancing ensues until 11pm when everyone leaves; having danced a night away and there seems to be an awful lot of happy happy people.
Sunday is another full day, and it features more very popular local bands including The Wooden Sky (beautiful roots rock band from
Alejandro Escovedo provides an hour long set of rock n roll from this very talented Mexican American artist. He pushes the crowd to get involved and makes sure everyone is paying attention. Next up on the East stage is Kurt Vile..his new album hust released, brought out a huge crowd and his set is raw, and wonderful. his band are fantastic and he is a very loveable little character!
Next up. another great set by Yo La Tango. The band plays a full set of their
Well...not so lucky!
Cat Empire hits the West Stage and the rain comes! Now I had not seen Cat Empire or listened to any of their music but this band kicks off an electric ska/jazz set that despite the rain..is hugely popular. There is plenty of cover at this festival..With plenty of trees and tents but nobody cares. This is what turns out to give me more hope then anything here. is that this crowd could care less about the rain, they are here to see the bands, sing along and dance. nobody left. they stuck around and it was wonderful to watch!
The crowd simply take in the rain and smiles and when this great set by Cat Empire is over, they simply move to the East stage to kick off again with Xavier Rudd. He is hugely popular with the crowd and brings his multi instrumental show to
Back to the West stage, and the crowd is huge. This is the biggest crowd we have seen here since the festival started and while the rain had stopped for an hour or so now, it was clear from the looks of the sky. its coming back! No sooner had Neko Case come on to stage to a tremendous response from the crowd then the sky opened and it was on! Torrential downpour unlike anything I have seen in
Neko just smiled at the crowd and thanked them for standing there through this rain and again, I couldn't help but smile as I was witnessing a crowd who was there for the music....and nothing else mattered. Its pretty fantastic considering most of these people, who had bought the 4 day pass. could come and go as they please and could easily have left and walked the 5 minutes it would take to get to some bars and restaurants that they could have gone to, but nobody left!
Everyone simply enjoyed the show and then shifted to the East Stage for the last band of the night, and the Festival. a wonderful set by Belle & Sebastian. A laid back set of their classics, an amusing audience participation set that included having audience members play scrabble with the band onstage, as well as sing on stage with the band and it really was a great way to end the festival.
This festival was a success from where I sit, I saw crowds having fun, not causing problems, drinking and dancing and singing, eating great food and simply enjoying the experience of being at a music festival, in down town
It’s so rare that I have to hope local politicians see their way to continue to support this type of event. While the promoters did have complaints about noise levels, I think these complaints were limited and hopefully will not affect this festivals return. Next year. it will be bigger and better and perhaps I will see some rock club readers. Time a nice little vacation to
All the best from