Published on June 17th, 2014 | by Neusha Mofazzali0
The Feedback Society’s Canadian Music Festival Roundup!
With Saskatoon’s MoSoFest last weekend, and Calgary’s Sled Island this weekend, The Feedback Society’s Neusha Mofazzali looks at his favourite Canadian music festivals.
HILLSIDE FESTIVAL (1)
Location: Guelph, ON.
Line Up Highlights: Hydra, Hey Rosetta, Royal Canoe, Tegan and Sara, Hollerado, PUP, Born Ruffians and Belle Game.
With only a short country drive from the City of Guelph and a gentle boat ride to Guelph Lake Island, you find yourself embarking on a three-day musical quest accompanied by a calm lake and unending greenery. Like most successful festivals in Canada, expect to see breakthrough bands along with popular groups from all genres. Last year I remember stumbling through a crowd to see F@#ked Up after observing the exciting talents of The Wilderness of Manitoba, two ‘indie’ bands on the opposite sides of the spectrum (you can probably seek their differences in their name choice). I wasn’t only impressed with the entertainment value of the festival, but the food too, because as an avid festival attendee I seek an array of choices when picking my next meal. Hillside provides its own little Food Bazaar with foods from all over the world as well as various venders and music workshops to fill your time before your next scheduled act. Now… too much praise is painful! If I had one negative thing to say, it would be that the wait for the shuttle to and from the island sucked and it was even harder to get back at night. This is only an issue if you’re not camping on the island, therefore to avoid several trips back and forth I advise you to camp.
SLED ISLAND (2)
June 18th – 22nd
Location: Calgary, AB.
Line up Highlights: Joel Plaskett Emergency, B.A Johnston, Bry Webb, Elliot Brood, The Mandates, Young Braised, Neko Case, St.Vincent. (Editor’s Note: As per a Facebook comment, I would indeed add Spiritualized and Rocket From the Crypt to this List.)
Sled Island is known as the ‘scout’ of all music festivals in Canada, where it structures around a showcase feel, giving music lovers the ability to find raw talent and fuel the obscurity in their playlists. However, as you can see, they do incredibly well in bringing well-known groups to add to the excitement, which acts as an extra incentive just in case you find nothing you enjoy (which could happen). The travel between venues is relatively simple, which for a city like Calgary isn’t surprising, as it is probably one of the best-structured cities in Canada — other than it being susceptible to natural disasters. So it’s unfortunate to mention last year; a flood stopped the festival short. Kudos to the organizers to come back again and continue the festival, despite a luckless setback in 2013. Keep in mind if you attend Sled that you should plan your evenings and research bands as a lot of the shows clash with each other. Plan ahead people! Go Sled!
SQUAMISH VALLEY MUSIC FESTIVAL (3)
August 8th – 10th
Location: Squamish, BC.
Line up Highlights; Eminem, Bruno Mars, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Broken Bells, Chvres, Nas, Tokyo Police Club, A Tribe Called Red.
With the mountains as the backdrop to the main stage, you can’t leave out Squamish Valley as one of the best music festivals in Canada — I mean have a look at the line up! Whoa! Ultimate scenery is not the only bullet point that makes this festival stand out; it’s the atmosphere and the fact that it’s only been around for four years and has brought out the likes of Vampire Weekend, Queens of the Stone Age, Macklemore, and Bad Religion to name a few. It reminds me of Osheaga, but less industrial and less clustered.
August 1st – 3rd
Location: Montreal, QC.
Line up highlights; Outkast, Childish Gambino, Local Natives, HAIM, The Kooks, Cut Copy, Volcano Choir, Bombay Bicycle Club, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys.
Doubtless that Osheaga sits in the top twenty festivals in the west, as it conjures up the ability to capture a fantastic line up. I wouldn’t label it as Canada’s best, strictly because of the geography of the venue, and that would have something to do with the manipulation of European culture in Montreal. Here, you don’t get glorious views and camping (which I relate Canada to); you get twentieth century architecture accompanied with a lengthy and humid train ride to the festival’s only efficient entrance. Therefore, this festival offers you a unique offset to what a traditional Canadian festival would, by this I mean the aura of Montreal’s culture goes hand-in-hand with the festival. As for the festival itself, don’t expect to have much to do in-between acts, as the levels of off-stage entertainment is lacking in creativity (hoola-hoop competitions?). This festival is purely for the music lovers who are patient and swim through large crowds with ease. The entire experience is a giant thumbs up and I would very much advise everyone to attend at least once. However, once you have endured the battles of the crowd in tough heat and waited over two hours after the festival is over, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other people waiting for the next train back (before it closes), you might feel as if that is your last Osheaga — so make it a good one. But remember this folks, Osheaga has always brought in quality headlining acts; it’s Outkast this year. You can’t get better than that.
WINNIPEG FOLK FEST (5)
July 9th – 13th
Location: Winnipeg, MB.
Line Up Highlights; Boy & Bear, The Sheepdogs, The Wooden Sky, The Deep Dark Woods, Daniel Romano, JP Hoe.
Winnipeg Folk has consistently reached Canada’s Top festivals, not only because of how significant they present folk roots in their line-up, but due to their growth and remarkable community programs. It’s an experience for campers who really appreciate folk roots music, camping under the sun and engaging with hippies on an hourly basis. It reaches my list because I am impressed year and year out with the quality of folk musicians they host, along with the pure determination to act as an advocate for roots music in Canada.
June 11th – 14th
Location: Saskatoon, SK.
Line Up Highlights; Timber Timbre, Atlas Sound, Library Voices, We Are The City, Woodpigeon, Despistado, Bend Sinister.
Like Sled Island, MoSo focuses on up and coming bands along with well known touring acts scattered around various venues in and around the Broadway region of Saskatoon. There is no exaggeration when I say it has sky rocketed in popularity and it is only a few years old. The festival does remarkably well to represent Saskatoon’s sudden outburst of musical interest and talent, as they pursue local acts to accompany touring acts, which does a hell of a lot for the local bands. The premise of MoSo is to host a mobile social conference, specializing in technology and business, but the music element to the conference is a terrific way to cap of the convention. I feel very bold in saying this, but MoSo has very much kept itself on Par with the Saskatchewan Jazzfest in terms of organizing a very good music festival, especially as they are a week apart.
OTTAWA BLUES FESTIVAL (7)
July 3rd – 13th
Location: Ottawa, ON.
Line up Highlights; Lady Gaga, Awolnation, Barenaked Ladies, Cypress Hill, The Darcy’s, Tyler The Creator, The Killers.
Okay, there was no way I was missing Ottawa Blues — can you believe the line up? I think any festival that can bring in Lady Gaga, Cypress Hill, and The Killers, deserves at least a mention. The park is in the shadow of Parliament, which gives it a creepy yet sophisticated feel. Overall, the music festival offers some blues, in the form of contemporary music — so really the name is vague. However, I urge you to visit our nation’s capitol for once! For this reason only, of course!
REGINA FOLK FESTIVAL (8)
August 8th – 10th
Location: Regina, SK.
Line up Highlights; Serena Ryder, Sam Roberts Band, Indigo Girls, Elliot Brood, Joel Plaskett Emergency, Los Lobos.
I put Regina Folk Festival in here, because it’s genuinely one of the best festivals I have been to. The organizers structure workshops around the main stage (which is closed off) to bring you free shows that include the main headliners so that you can experience the talent without having to spend a penny. This feature allows you to interact with your favorite artists and see them on stage with other artists too. I’d call this one a perfect family festival, where you can leave your reservations behind and chill out.
SONIC BOOM (9)
August 29th – 31st
Location: Edmonton, AB.
Line up highlights; Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Rise Against, Death Cab For Cutie, The New Pornographers, Foster the People, July Talk, Stars.
Located in Northlands Park Edmonton, this festival has the audacity to carry a big and powerful name, why? Again, look at the star studded line up getting ready to shred Edmonton’s heart. This one makes it because of the powerhouse line up; I think I will go to this one!