Here’s a quick overview of what went down on the Regina Folk Festival’s Saturday night main stage, minus Stars because they’re special and the headliners and so they get their own post.
Great Lake Swimmers were freaking great. If they were a little bit less sleepy of a band, I would be screaming around here about how they should have been much farther up the bill, but it worked and kicked the night off wonderfully. I kept thinking about Aidan Morgan’s prairie dog review of their last album, New Wild Everywhere, where he said “it’s the most wan and lustreless thing I’ve heard from a group that’s put out some quiet but vital music in its past.” I haven’t listened to the album yet, but the songs they were playing off it last night made me want to rub it Aidan’s face, yelling, “You’re wrong! You’re wrong!” over and over again. Music criticism is a heated business.
Tasseomancy would be taking the stage later as part of Austra, but did a tweener set early on in the night. Their momentum was shot as soon as they had to stop a song midway through, but it was worth it to at least get to hear the night’s MC Jayden Pfeifer say their name a couple of different times with different emphasis each time. “TAsseomancy!” “TasseoMANcy!”
Pfeifer, by the way, was doing a great job, especially after Friday night’s MC, Al Simmons, put up a prop-laden tough act to follow. Pfeifer engaged the audience and was funny on the fly. That’s what you get when you book the man behind a successful local live variety show for your hosting duties.
Serena Ryder was no doubt a highlight of the festival for some, a theory confirmed somewhat by the chunk of people who left the minute she was done. She’s a lady built for the folk fest circuit, an up-beat folk singer whose songs are catchy and have enough rock to them to get an audience going.
Rosie and the Riveters might be a hit of the festival. When they came on for their tweener set, it was to a lot of loud applause from the crowd, who’d no doubt seen the group in a few sessions earlier. I imagine the Saskatoon group will be making other appearances in Regina in the future.
Elage Diouf, the Senegal-via-Quebec musician, was up next. He again brought up the liveliness of the evening with his lively world music, including a cover of “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” from O Brother, Where Art Thou? I have to assume he brought a lot of that energy to the after-party, where his band was playing before the secret guests, Austra.
Young Benjamins were the other Saskatoon act to the stage last night, but I feel like Chris Morin should drop something around these parts about their Folk Fest performances. He wrote about them for our issue and he’s a good ol’ Saskatoon boy — I think he’s got this covered.
Austra performance was just as entrancing and odd and fascinating as I’ve heard it. Having seen them live, I have a whole new appreciation for their electronic and Bjork-influenced style, and not just because of the Tasseomancy members bizarre stage dancing. An important note from my friend Matthew at the start of the set: “Somehow, a man in a basketball jersey with a saxophone doesn’t fit this sound.” Agreed.
Del Barber was the final tweener of the evening. He brought a lot of the likeability and solid songs that he did last time he came through town, as the opener for Old Man Luedecke, and it was a pleasure to hear some of those songs live again.