Calgary Folk Fest day two in review

If you look at the weather charts — and that’s as big a part of being a folk fest goer as anything — you know that Friday was set to be the nicest day of this year’s event. A rare day this summer without a thunderstorm tornado warning or sharknado joke. As such I skipped out on work early (sorry Kathey) to get to the festival in time for what will end up being one of the most well attended workshops of the weekend. It featured Hayes Carll Bahamas Heartless Bastards and Shiv Shanks . Shiv Shanks and Bahamas stole the show with Shanks playing his muffled ragged blues and Bahamas’ Afie Jurvanen following up by lamenting that he had to follow that up. Although at one point he did follow it up by covering Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochie.”

Just 20 minutes later Bahamas was on the main stage. Rocking out a little harder and endearing himself to the crowd with his self-deprecating banter Jurvanen continued to charm ultimately ending his set with covers of “Hey Ya” and “Wonderful Tonight.” The guy knows how to treat a crowd and even on my sixth or seventh time seeing him perform was a total delight. “Why is this guy not headlining?” a friend asked me.

Heartless Bastards then took the main stage and while they didn’t get the same warm reception as Bahamas my personal taste says they were the band to beat this weekend. Ripping through what is already an impressive catalogue the Dayton Ohio band was a welcome rocker on the folk fest main stage.

Thievery Corporation the night’s headliner was no doubt a draw for many people. For me it was finally an opportunity to retreat to the beer gardens. Their beats carried into the tent and they were a very different element for those who thought Bahamas Hayden and Heartless Bastards were too similar. For me you couldn’t do much to top that threesome. Why try?


The nice thing about this particular festival is that the first couple of days are shorter which helps ease you into the extensive amounts of walking and sitting awkwardly. For me this is crucial as sitting on the ground can get pretty uncomfortable after a while. I am not a “tarpie” so I can’t just post up for the day in one particular spot. I have to get a move on!

If there is one thing I have noticed in my folk festival adventures it is that the people have become so comfortable with being care free that it can become upsetting. I was sitting on the grass at a show today that wasn’t particularly busy minding my own beeswax when I turned my head to notice a man’s bare foot dangling inches from my face! The guy was sitting right behind me eating vegetables from a large Tupperware container with his big fat foot right in my grill. It was pretty disgusting. There were also countless people sitting around reading magazines or just sleeping. It must be weird to be in a band seeing all of these people in the audience just reading magazines or snoozing. It was like waiting for your plane at the airport.

Anyway today started off great for me with Alasdair Roberts over at stage five. He played a fantastic set of original folk tunes as well as a cover of a song written by his father. At some points it felt like being in a really great history class. Unfortunately the set lacked drums due to a visa issue but the bare bones band sounded great regardless. He ended his set with a fantastic song called “The Wheels of the World” off of his latest release A Wonder Working Stone .

Following that set was another interesting choice for the festival. Sarah Neufeld a violin player who is most recognizable for her work with Belle Orchestre and Arcade Fire played a solo show that was much more on the experimental side of things. Her violin playing was very repetitive and kind of dreary sounding a lot of the time and she had these Enya-sounding coos that sounded pretty spooky. It was a beautiful summer day so it was kind of fun to watch something so dark and gloomy sounding. I enjoyed it. The family in front of me didn’t but they were too lazy to pick up their chairs and leave. I think they may have been hypnotized by the sound.

I zipped right over to the main stage in the “dance section” to check out a band from Toronto called Bahamas or bananas? Bahamas. They were a pretty decent indie rock band but nothing really to write home about. The singer had some pretty decent banter even though he didn’t think he was doing that great of a job. All of the kids around me were stoked and I guess that is all that matters! Who cares about my dumb opinion? Maybe you do dear reader so I apologize. Well Bahamas did this cover of the Outkast hit “Hey Ya!” and everyone around me and even the tarp people went apeshit. I’ve never seen so many moms shaking their money makers. Meh I guess that band was charming.

I was fairly excited to see Hayden next. I had seen him a few times in my short life on this earth and have enjoyed all of those times. I don’t know what it was… Maybe it was the large festival environment or the fact that I have already seen the man play many times but I found it to be really boring. Instead I found myself trying to figure out how to do the “Gangnam Style” dance instead and I don’t even like that stupid dance! My mind was wandering and I felt sleepy. It was time to go home. The weekend is drawing near and there will be a hell of a lot more walking and sitting awkwardly on the grass.