by Madeleine Cummings
Hillside, the annual music and community festival on Guelph Lake Island, runs rain or shine. This year, concert-goers got plenty of both. Mother Nature delivered a Sunday that was nothing short of perfection: blue sky, breeze, warmth, but no humidity. Here’s the best of what Hillside had to offer in return:
Zeus, 2 p.m., Island Stage
This power pop band from Toronto always delivers an impressive live set. I like them because the band members look and dress like my dad used to in high school. 70s attire aside, their songs are incredibly catchy and make you want to shake your limbs and bounce up and down. The toddlers were doing just that, and after opening with “Kindergarten,” the band dedicated their next song to all of the children in the audience. Although Zeus packs more of a punch in a smaller venue, songs like “Marching Through Your Head” shone as the crowd clapped on.
In Session: Julie Doiron and Gord Downie, 4 p.m., Island Stage
Gord Downie has put out three solo albums – most recently, The Grand Bounce. His backing band, The Country of Miracles, is a fine collection of influential Canadian musicians including Dale Morningstar, Josh Finlayson, Julie Doiron, Dave Clark and John Press. Downie explained that this particular show was to be a workshop of sorts; meant to illuminate aspects of the music-making process and showcase the talents of his band members. He then launched into “The Hard Canadian,” a repetitive but solid song off his new album. The solo performances that followed were excellent, save for the ones from a very nervous Julie Doiron.
Or Is This Just a Dream? Charlotte Cornfield (host) with Hayley Sales and friends, 5 p.m., Sun Stage
The dream theme was playfully and thoughtfully explored by songstresses Charlotte Cornfield and Hayley Sales. Cornfield has a captivating and unique voice suited to her gentle acoustic strumming. In comparison, Sales is almost boring with her clear and sweet vocals. Both struggled to sing over the pounding beats of the nearby Main Stage, but easily kept the attention of their patient audience. Cornfield’s cover of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” was especially memorable. Wish that was available on iTunes.
Shad, 7:20 p.m., Main Stage
Shad’s set was fun and entertaining. Though it is no easy task to excite several hundred people lounging on towels and lawn chairs, he was up to the challenge. Shad got the tired audience’s attention by constantly weaving the word “Hillside” into his lyrics. “Rose Garden,” already a phenomenal song, was made even better when Ashleigh Ball of Hey Ocean! hopped on stage to lend her voice. Whether or not he wins this year’s Polaris Prize, more and more Canadians will have heard of Shad by September.