August 2nd, 2014 | Features | 0 Comments
Sackville is a tiny little town in New Brunswick. The only thing that separates it from a million other little towns across Canada is that it is also home to Mount Allison University, which gives the town a bit of a youthful and interesting character. And during Sappyfest weekend, that character is exploded as the underground but up-and-coming indie-rockigentsia of Canada descend upon it for three days of music, beer, zines, outdoor markets, and general good times for all. It’s kind of like a house party that’s not too big or crazy and everyone there is either your friend or potentially your friend. Except instead of a house it’s a remote town in Eastern Canada.
The first band I saw was The Grubbies, a sort of garage pop band from Halifax. Apparently they’re big fans of The Who, since they covered a bit of “The Kids Are Alright” during their soundcheck and then ended their set with “Heatwave”. They were good.
Following them was Montreal prog-poppers Freelove Fenner, who I’ve been feeling for a little while. They were very ‘sturdy’ and precise live – their records would lead you to imagine they would be – but not super energetic. I spent the whole set watching the guitarist perform the chorus-drenched figures that give the band a lot of its unique sound.
Dusted - Holy Fuck‘s Brian Borcherdt and Rituals‘ Leon Taheny (both based in Toronto) - mixes electronic elements with sort of old school Canadian indie. They took on the task of getting the energy of the night going. Before their set I’d only known of them by reputation but I’m a fan now. They were phenomenal.
Finishing off the night at the mainstage was Kitchener’s drums-guitar powerhouse PS I Love You. They took the energy that Dusted had built up with the crowd and blew it up, people were jumping around and dancing and one guy even got a crowdsurf in. Guitarist Paul Saulnier might not look like a Peter Frampton guitar god or something, but he owned the stage – fingertapping, playing guitar behind his head, and just generally proving himself a serious presence. Drummer Benjamin Nelson also held up his end of things heroically.
After PS I Love You‘s set ended, festivities moved over to the Royal Canadian Legion venue. Fredericton band Motherhood started playing around 12:15. I was already so tired from barely sleeping the night before and driving all day that at this point I needed some serious persuasion to keep going. And although Motherhood put on a very solid performance, they were so Nick Cave-inspired that it was more like I was watching a Nick Cave cover band than an original crew from Fredericton. Maybe if I’d sat through their entire set or got into their music more I would see more originality, but at the point in the night I didn’t have the patience and decided to call it in, despite my desire to see Halifax’s Moon, who were playing after them.