Every festival has one day that blows the rest out of the water, and for City Folk, that was Saturday night. Jumping from genre to genre, the night was full of sheer talent.
Fred Penner holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts, young and old. Playing a show in the afternoon for the children and one in the evening for the adults, Penner’s act is as timeless as his audience. Many of the people in the crowd for the evening show were in their mid 20’s, young adults that grew up to his music. “You have grown up to beautiful young men and women.” Penner has an indescribable way of having a positive effect on children through his music and the way he uses it as a medium for teaching. A little girl, maybe eight years old, threw a torn piece of paper to the stage in request of My Grandfather’s Clock and took Penner by surprise. “It warms my heart to know that sensitivity is in children. They don’t need the wacka wacka, they need to know they have strong minds. Give the kids a place to chill, parents. That’s what it’s all about,” he said, having the heartwarming feeling that he gives out returned to him by tiny hands. Playing the Goblin song, Puff The Magic Dragon, his classic twist on The Cat Came Back, he also took the time out of his set to dedicate Pete Seeger’s Garbage to all of the “green people” helping to clean up after the festival goers. Never disappointing and always coming out with a message, Penner also made a point to thank everybody for showing up and filling the room with their voices. “Before we wrap up this evening, I’m so pleased that you came all this way to fill this room with your voices. Make sure you share your feelings. Don’t be afraid to open up that vulnerable part of you and make a difference in other people’s lives,” he said before leaving the stage briefly and coming back up to “push it” and play one more song, the Beatles classic With A Little Help From My Friends.
Following Penner on the Ravenlaw stage was JUNO nominees Royal Canoe.They filled the room with music that would be perfect to smoke some pot to. With Matt Schellenberg’s ominous vocals carrying through the room with the smoke, the mellow synth set a mellow vibe that followed through even above the heavy bass. The room was so full that people had to walk through the chairs to get from side to side, making the chairs relatively pointless by the end. Every member of the band truly uses their instruments to the fullest and these guys even tend to double up, with two drummers and multiple microphones with different effects. With a set that made you feel like you were in a weird time warp that was stuck in between 1972 and 2017, they made it quite difficult to leave and make your way over to the City stage for Father John Misty.
Those that did make it over for the Father John Misty show were definitely not disappointed though. Having had the pleasure of reviewing a few of his shows, he’s definitely got some split personality approach to his shows, but that just makes it all that much more interesting. Every performance just as compelling as the last, he puts on a show that you could close your eyes during and go to a place that’s truly serene. Although you wouldn’t want to, because the light show on stage was the most beautiful of the fest thus far. Rendering even writers speechless, Misty never ceases to put on a show that makes you feel like you’re hopping back a generation or two with his multiple personas that could be attributed to many different artists.
The Aberdeen pavilion was absolutely overflowing with people for the Matt Mays show. This was the show that really took the festival to another level too, which was quite the treat for the large crowd that stayed out after many left. Mays shared his insecurities with the crowd, telling us that he used to have really strong performance anxiety, until he realized that life is too short to worry about being insecure in front of other people. Whenever he realized that, was a wonderful day for his fans, because his performance just screams Rock N’ Roll. No matter how insecure you are, there’s no way that you were not shaking your hips at least a little bit at that show, that’s a show that doesn’t come by very often and it’d be a waste to remain stationary. No words can truly describe just how strong this performance was, not only by Mays, but by his entire band. Treating the crowd to his songs, new and old, he showcased a new track called Drive On from his upcoming album, Once Upon A Hell Of A Time, as well as beloved hits like Cocaine Cowgirl and City Of Lakes – which Mays said he thinks “the Bear was the first station to ever play.” Up there in his all white pantsuit with what looked like the Bahamas in the lining, Mays’ color came out in his voice and the rest of the band was just as colorful. After an absolutely remarkable Rock N’ Roll keyboard solo, Mays said that they call the keyboardist lethal weapon for obvious reasons.
It’s not often that you get treated to a night so full of hip shaking, head swaying tunes, but City Folk seems to be a place where it’s the norm.