Concerts Concerts Sticky Hits the Road for S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival 2013

Sticky Hits the Road for S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival 2013

The Balconies at Market Square
S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival 2013

Multiple venues in St. Catharines, ON
June 9, 2013

Review by: Melissa Adamson, Chad Hutchings, and Pete Nema
Photos by: Pete Nema

Sticky Magazine's staff strikes out for St. Catharines biggest one-day music festical. 

It can take a lot to get us out of Toronto - with some killer venues and with most major Canadian tours passing through, our contributors find plenty to keep busy with in the city. But, from time to time, an event will blip on the edge of our radar that we absolutely know we just can't miss. This month, the eighteenth annual S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival was that blip. For this year's single-day incarnation, over 160 solid performers were set to take stages within a few doors from one another, so we knew we had every reason to hit the road to the very sunny St. Catharines. At the end of the day, amongst the three of us that made up the Sticky contingent, we just may have managed to take in the highlights of the year. Here's what we saw:

We started the day with the freestyle raps of Serb Superb (aka. Branko Scekic of Dinosaur Bones) who had us contemplating Tom Green and pizza, one night stands in Greece, cooties and Pete Nema on a nude beach. Ok, fine, that last one was a slight exaggeration. Though Pete was one of the many topics shouted out by the crowd he (un)fortunately he didn’t make it into the improvisation. Instead we watched Branko in his bare essentials – colourful tighty whities and a sailor hat - dance with a stranger and rap about a girl who walked into the bar. At a Serb Superb show nothing and no one is off limits.

Next up was The Roseville Band, who travelled from Wrexham, North Wales to play SCENE Fest, NXNE and a few other shows along the way. We learned that their current album Temper was inspired by their time in Toronto and written and recorded in a month.  Though the official launch date is June 25, they decided to release a few copies during this Canadian tour, to a crowd and country they love. It is an interesting story for an intriguing band, with a catchy alternative rock sound that is difficult to compare.

Cutting across downtown, we made it to the main stage to see The Balconies do their thing. Sticky has a pretty substantial history of catching them in the act, and it seems like they put on a stronger show every time they take the stage. This year's SCENE Fest was true to the trend, with the gritty three-piece putting on the strongest performance they've ever done in front of this pair of eyes, while vocalist/guitarist Jacquie Neville was in the spotlight more than ever as Liam Jaeger and Stephen Neville held the whole sweaty rock mess together tightly on drums and bass. Their afternoon appearance was one of the truest-to-form rock and roll sets of the festival, and there's no more temptation to tack on "pop" when talking about their sound. They brought instrumentals that were just the right balance of loud and fuzzy, and vocals from the vivacious lead were so fierce and flawless that they won out over the otherwise-welcomed distraction of some signature dance moves. 

The Ascot Royals were next in line, taking over a corner of a bar to create an atmosphere that felt like a high school house party. The lack of a stage was perfect for a band that prides itself on creating a party atmosphere. They were able to get up close and personal and dance with their fans, just as they like it. The crowd loved the set and was feeding off the energy of the band.

From that tight bar corner, we headed out to catch PUP, the new name of the band formely called Topanga; the new name better represents their sound which is rooted in classic punk but is also filled with party anthems. In the basement of the Red Hot Chili Pepper, the room was mostly empty but where the seats ended and the floor started was filled right up to the stage with group heavy in recognizable faces from music scene, including members of Hollerado. Despite it being early afternoon, all the photographers, musicians, writers, friends, and fans bounced around like it was a midnight show. Given the extremely friendly nature of the band-to-audience relationship, the band played a show like it was their own party. Sure it was a bit sloppy, but it was filled with heart and was probably the most fun performance of the day.

Heading out of that basement and into St. Catharines' airy downtown streets, we next found ourself jammed into a sweaty shoulder to shoulder crowd at Mikado to see The Dirty Nil knock their fans around with the kind of amped-up garage rock that probably makes plenty of parents pound on plenty of teenagers' doors. With the whole band beaming and practically on fire, their energy had those fans moving and jumping in every free inch of that back room - inches that were at a premium, because The Dirty Nil sure does draw a crowd.

One of the highlights of the day was a high-energy set from The Matinee. The western style bar was perfect for the folk rock band. People on the street were hanging through the windows and the lively crowd was dancing up a storm at the front of the stage. We had a great time and left smiling and looking forward to seeing them again soon (which we plan on doing Wednesday, June 26th at The Dakota Tavern).

With the day winding down, we made our way back to the main stage for the biggest names on the bill, the first of which seems to be quickly becoming a festival staple. Because, over the past few years, the savviest organizers have learned a simple truth: For a good time, call Hollerado. Even in the bright sunlight, the boys from Ottawa had no trouble getting comfortable and putting on a show, bantering loosely and rocking tightly with new tracks from their latest White Paint and some old favourites here and there. Judging by the cheers for the hits and by the heap of fans singing along, their appearance made it clear that plenty of those bodies in the crowd itching to dance were real Hollerado fans, no matter who might have been headlining the day. Of course, it doesn't take being a devoted fan to be set into motion at a Hollerado show; under signature showers from confetti cannons, they had some big numbers getting loose and dancing hard to "Juliette", "Do the Doot Da Doot Doo" and pretty much any other song that was thrown their way.

Headliners Tokyo Police Club ended the night with an equal mixture of their old and new songs. Though it is the classics that received the best crowd reception, a few of the new ones had their own standout moments.  Highlights of the set include a country/folk version of "Tessellate" and seeing keyboardist Graham Wright get out from behind his keys to rock out on the guitar.  This hints at a more-rock, less-keys focus for the next record that we’re eagerly looking forward to.

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