Concerts Concerts Waking the Neighbourhood at the Wolfe Island Music Festival

Waking the Neighbourhood at the Wolfe Island Music Festival

Stars at Wolfe Island Music Festival
Wolfe Island Music Festival
Wolfe Island, ON
August 6, 2011

Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle

For one sunny August weekend, hundreds invaded a beautiful little island off the coast of Kingston, drawn across the water with tents in tow to be a part of the annual Wolfe Island Music Festival.

While the festival was stretched over two days, the main event came on Saturday as nine acts took turns bringing the sleepy village of Marysville to life. This year, Sticky Magazine took to the road and made its first appearance at the show for a day of leisure, tasty treats, cold beers, and great live music.

Wilderling

After braving the wild seas (that is, standing through the short ferry jaunt to the island), we found our way to the festival grounds alongside campers and fans and family pets. Despite dragging ourselves out of bed at the crack of dawn, we arrived just a little too late for our liking — that is, just as Montreal's Wilderling was wrapping up a set that was both their first festival appearance and the first on the bill for WIMF.  The bit we heard as we approached was promising, but before we had a chance to get our bearings, the music was through and the group was thanking the crowd. Next time, Wilderling.

Evening Hymns

After a short run of feasting and making nice with the artisans set up for sales along the edge of the grounds, our team found its way to the front of a sea of blankets and lawn chairs and took a seat in the grass to see Evening Hymns.

Named in a proper description of their sound, Evening Hymns offered up a set of gentle ballads that was a perfect fit for their daytime slot at Wolfe Island — slow, unobtrusive, and a great complement to a lazy Saturday in the sunshine. And for his part, lead (and core member) Jonas Bonnetta was unceasingly clever and engaging, patiently playing entertainer for the crowd that was filling in slow waves with every arrival of the ferry.

Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Evening Hymns at Wolfe Island Music Festival  

Jennifer Castle

Little did we know, while Evening Hymns was digging deep into their set-list, one of those waves of fans brought Jennifer Castle to the island, barely making it by the skin of her teeth to pick up the torch and kick off her set on schedule.

While her young son playing quietly at the front of the stage, Castle fed festival-goers tunes rich in bluesy vocals, accented only by her single guitar.  With the afternoon sun still sitting high, nobody was in any rush to party hard, so all seemed as glad to take in the artist's slow crooning as they were to hear the quiet act that she followed.

Jennifer Castle at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jennifer Castle at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jennifer Castle at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jennifer Castle at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jennifer Castle at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jennifer Castle at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jennifer Castle at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jennifer Castle at Wolfe Island Music Festival  

Forest City Lovers

Forest City Lovers was next on the bill, kicking off their set as caped and costumed children pressed their delicate ears against the speakers at center stage (tut tut, oblivious parents).

The group picked up the pace over the acts that came before them, but they maintained the folky, earthy feel that dominated most of the festival line-up.  Songs like "Phodilus And Tyto" were well fitted for the Wolfe Island stage, with great beats accented by the slow, smooth drone of the violin. It was just a shame that, despite the new life being brought by Forest City Lovers, the energy was being wasted on an audience that was still lazy and laying on their blankets, unable to be roused from their sun comas.

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The Wooden Sky

Next up was The Wooden Sky, with a performance that was unfailingly polished and impassioned. Live renditions of gems like "Something Hiding For Us In The Night" and their self-titled tune "The Wooden Sky" were perfect displays of all the reasons they deserved to be playing for a huge crowd — a crowd whose only distraction from the beautiful set was with their efforts to wish away the storm clouds brewing on the horizon.

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Jenn Grant

The queue of talent next brought a performance from Jenn Grant, accompanied by her friend Andrew on guitar (former buddy from a summer camp and most definitely not her husband, we were assured). The songstress belted out lovely tunes like "Baby's Been Away" in a voice that has a certain indescribable roundness to it — never gutteral or jagged around the seams. Moreover, Grant proved to be quite the genuine presence on stage, beaming and bright, even as she fought a losing battle to keep her dress from lifting in the breeze.

Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Jenn Grant at Wolfe Island Music Festival  

PS I Love You

With the evening closing in, Kingston's own PS I Love You took to the stage. The pair has been getting a lot of attention across the continent, and their popularity won them a roaring reception from the hometown crowd at Wolfe Island. For the first time in the evening, a hundred fans shed their blankets and stepped forward to dance and cheer for the grungy two-piece. While the group was tight-lipped between tunes, PS I Love You put on the loudest set of the festival, and the fans were right there with them, screaming their support as the band wailed just a few feet away.

PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival   PS I Love You at Wolfe Island Music Festival  

Plants and Animals

With the names on the bill getting bigger and bigger as the night rolled in, Plants and Animals stepping up next in front of the ever-thickening crowd at center stage. In proper Wolfe Island family-friendly fashion, the band was Joined by Nicolas Basque's young son sitting comfortably by his father's feet, and occasionally by a curious dog wearing an all-access pass who just wasn't content staying backstage. Even without the silly little surprises, though, Plants and Animals put on one of the best shows of the festival, not only through the quality of their music (highlighted by soaring performances of "Good Friend" and "Bye Bye Bye"), but also through their presence under the lights. Not just talkative for the sake of filling in the blanks, the act was effortlessly engaging on-stage, and with the sleepy afternoon long since over, fans greedily fed off of the vibe as the storm clouds passed us by, leaving the island warm and dry.

Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival   Plants and Animals at Wolfe Island Music Festival  

Shad

Nova Scotia's Buck 65 was originally slated to follow Plants and Animals in this year's fest, but some nameless issues popped up that had him canceling his appearance within the final week. Disappointment was in large supply, of course, but the festival promoters wasted no time securing a surprise fill-in — a secret that was shockingly well-guarded up until the time that Shad made his was on stage.

While his hip-hop work wasn't exactly a tidy fit with the other acts on the island, the audience was absolutely teeming with his fans, and their excitement was clear in their deafening cheering that didn't end the entire time he performed. All of that chaos was very much deserved and nobody was left disappointed; Shad's performance was everything you'd expect from an award winning artist, with his showboating onstage reaching the same heights as the quality of the work that had the island roaring.

Info: Shad
Connect: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter

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Stars

Finally, as the night was well upon us and the crickets were singing about love from every dark corner of the festival grounds, headlining Stars made their appearance. This was the band that everyone had come to see, and nobody saved any energy as they showed the fact. By this time, the whole audience was on their feet, packed into a dense crowd to be blown away by perfectly-executed tunes like "The Passenger" and "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead." 

Of course, a great showing wasn't a surprise, since Stars has no shortage of experience on-stage, and they proved it every second they were under the spotlights. Their set was clean and heated, and they brought a beautiful end to one of the most laid-back, smoothly-run, and genuinely enjoyable festivals we'd attended in years.

Info: Stars
Connect: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter

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