July 28, 2009
no, i'm never gonna give in to you!

Things I learned at Hillside Festival yesterday, in reverse chronological order:

  1. You can get your car out of a swamp if you have 6 strangers to help you push. Also, someone needs to have figured out a route before you gun it out of the muddy parking lot. Thank heaven we received all of those particular blessings.
  2. It's important to remember where you park. Or you'll end up taking the shuttle bus to the farthest overflow of overflow parking, ask kind strangers to drive you around, and then have to walk back to the other parking lots in the pitch dark, holding hands with your sweetie. At least we kept moving and our soaked cotton clothes were warm with body heat. We then hitched a ride in the back of a cop car, talked to the parking supervisor, walked around another parking lot, watched other people try to get their cars out of the mud, thought about going to Guelph for the night and coming back in the morning, and finally took the advice of a stranger to look in the next parking lot. There was the car, remarkably dry, looking like an oasis of sanity. Then, of course, we got stuck in the mud.
  3. Owen Pallett is the bravest man in Canadian music. Those stupid lionizing house ads for Kim Mitchell on Q107 can just shut the fuck up, 'cause I saw the coolest, ballsiest guy last night in the middle of a truly frightening rainstorm. Forget the soi-dit "rock gods"; I saw skinny little Owen play down a thunderstorm, begging the sound crew for another minute to finish the song. The lightning crashed and he played louder. It rained harder and he went faster. All you could do was whoop and laugh and clap along as he raced against a short in the sound equipment. As soon as the song was over, the stage went dark and everyone in the audience started chanting his name and shaking their umbrellas in the air in celebration. It was the most awe-inspiring thing I've ever seen. There's a video of it here and despite the sketchy sound quality, hearing it again gives me full-body goosebumps; we were all the way across the field and it was just as electrifying as if we were in front of the stage. The title of this entry is the chorus of that song, a glorious sung defiance against the elements.
  4. Patrick Watson is very cool, and I wish we had made it into his record release this year. (We were just going to see Laura Barrett open for him, and naively thought we could get a ticket at the door. Ha!) His band played the clouds away, which Final Fantasy called back immediately (see above).
  5. Great Lake Swimmers are dull, and their shortlisting for this year's Polaris (ahead of Timber Timbre and Charles Spearin, I might add) is a crime against good sense. This follow up to Issa (see below) bored me to the point of crankiness and made me want to go home.
  6. Jane Siberry appears to have completely lost her mind. Issa-what? Don't clap (or "let it leak") and I won't have to take a vitamin tomorrow? Not to worry; I wasn't planning to clap anyway.
  7. Every time you see Gentleman Reg, you'll like the band more. Even if it's the third time in a week and a half (and the second time that weekend. Lately I see Reg more often than I see my parents). Also, you will have an awesome time singing, dancing and clapping along to "The Boyfriend Song" next to your boyfriend, who is doing the same thing, even more enthusiastically. When we put the album on this morning, we clapped along through sheer habit.
  8. Watching a David Francey show is even better when you're huddled under the stage roof to get away from the rain and you find yourself beside his wife, who asks you to help her read the symbols on her camera. And it's pretty good to begin with.
  9. Don't underestimate how much rain you'll get based on the festival's location. I've always thought that nothing could be as wet as StanFest, which joins other such famous generalizations as "it couldn't possibly be sunny enough at StanFest to need sunblock" but fortunately was not followed by a second degree sunburn. And I was trying, a bit. In deference to the previous day's wetting I wore a black hoodie, blue jeans, lace-up leather boots & a Tilley instead of a fancy jean jacket, black dress, thigh-high stockings & vespa boots. But that shit does not cut it in a torrential, all-day soaking. In fact, I probably made it worse for myself as my jeans and hoodie got sopping wet within an hour and never dried, meaning that I was uncomfortably cold and wet for most of the afternoon. At least my stupid impractical stockings are nylon and dry in a snap. The all-day wetness let to a sub-realization, which is always pre-wash your clothes before wearing them in the rain, as my new Amy Millan hoodie leaked black fuzz over my arms and black dye onto my pretty orange tank top, giving me the unlaundered gorilla look I so crave.


  10. Do not become so excited by the lightning show that you stop caring how wet you're getting. If you do not have a change of clothes, you will be cold and wet all day. Stupid me wore all cotton, despite knowing the value of a good wool garment in a soak. I was worried about the camera; I should have been worried about the loss of body heat and the state of the knitting book I dragged through two days of rain. Knitting Vintage Baby Clothes will never be the same.
  11. If you're knitting, you'll meet knitters. I didn't exactly learn this at Hillside, but it was proven there once again. My in-progress beret inspired the girl behind us to pull out her sock. We even met people who used to run an online knitting magazine called Spun. Of course, we were mostly chatting about going to festivals with young kids, and taking breaks from the conversation to dance to Gentleman Reg, but there was some yarn talk in there.
  12. Drummers get everywhere. The Afrobeat session on the main stage included the drummer from The Happiness Project, who is also the leader of Samba Punk Sound System, the drumming ensemble at the Brampton Indie Arts Festival with whom I danced out my lungs last year.
  13. Toting in a bottle of wine with the makings of a charcuterie & fromagerie plate is completely unnecessary. Delicious, but unnecessary. Apparently, they sell food at folk festivals now. It is, however, both important and fun to get your Hillside beer mugs & wine glasses as early as possible so that you're set for the rest of the day. Draft beer in the mud! I love it! Also, the ice cream there is better than most restaurants, and needs to be carefully planned to maximize the number of cones eaten in a day.
  14. Listen to CBC on the way in to get amped about the place you're going. Stuart McLean has many interesting things to say about Hillside, including the fact that Jason Collett can fit into a tent. Diagonally, one assumes.

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