review and photos by Michael Thomas
Day two of the final ALL CAPS! upped the ante a bit from the previous day, in that many of the day’s act could all easily be called loud. Also notable was the huge presence of female talent; with the exception of headliner Rich Aucoin and his backing band, every act had at least one female member.
A co-presentation with the Mudtown Music Festival opened the day with another teenaged all-girl band, this time with the kickass rock duo Watershed Hour, all the way from Whitby, Ont. With just a bass and drums, the two girls absolutely tore it up on stage. Their sound could be comparable to a 90s grunge band but managed to make just as much noise as a band with a complete set of instruments. Most impressive was “The Guitar Song” which had the vocalist start by putting a bass riff into a loop pedal and then playing guitar on top. The drummer was also endearing when she introduced the song she wrote, “Can’t Be Bothered To Come Up With a Title,” with a preface of “I wrote this one, you’ve been warned.” She also repped southern Ontario hard; she was wearing a Lightmares t-shirt!
The festival then took advantage of the wonderful nearby beach to host two acts on a stage constructed on the sand. The natural atmosphere suited both acts to a tee. The first of the two was Pachamama. As it involved Alex MacKenzie of Petra Glynt, weirdness could be expected, but the experience was no less than ritualistic. MacKenzie and Brandon Valdivia focus heavily on percussion, later adding in exotic-sounding wind instruments. They were later joined by two more musicians and then the dancer (see above) who quickly inspired a few audience members to have their own tribal dance party. For your next Pagan ritual, Pachamama will be a good soundtrack.
The following act was the complete opposite of music that would make someone want to dance, but it was no less commanding. EONS, a solo project of Matt Cully of Bruce Peninsula (featuring lovely backup vocals from Misha Bower), played the quietest set of the day, with just a guitar to play the melodies. After a glowing introduction from Doc Pickles, the duo played a handful of numbers from the excellent Arctic Radio album. At one point Bower commented on how relaxing everything was, remarking, “I’m so relaxed I could disappear!”
Festivities then moved back to the main stage, where Montreal “Canadian art band” Elfin Saddle played an other-worldly set. The stage was quickly crowded with instruments and things got off to a very spiritual start. There was something almost mystical about the music, a large part of which was sung in Japanese. There were barely any breaks in the performance; the band kept the sound going, leaving the audience under a bit of a spell.
All the quiet and calm was not last, however, with the next set by all-girl rock trio Magneta Lane, who during their set said that they basically owed their career to playing Wavelength shows. They proceeded to power through their set, with soaring vocals from Lexi Valentine which, while basically indistinguishable over the noise, conveyed the ferocity with which the three women thrashed around. The second-last song got the audience clapping, and the final song had Valentine doing quite a bit of hair whipping.
“2013 was the year of shoegaze,” Wavelength co-founder Jonny Dovercourt said as an introduction to Beliefs‘ set. The band took that term to a new level with their introspective, yet at the same time rocking, set. Where the previous day’s set from ev ree wuhn was quiet and contemplative, Beliefs went a little louder. There wasn’t too much banter, and that suited the band just fine.
Another rock act followed Beliefs, but this rock act was on a whole different level. CATL, now a duo but formerly a trio (or something) absolutely KICKED ASS from beginning to end with just a guitar and two drums. In between the absolutely wild songs the band also regaled the audience with stories of playing on the American version of Breakfast Television bleary-eyed at 7 a.m. and kicking friends in the neck while in school. The songs didn’t take long to get the entire audience into frenzied dancing. Had they been the headliner (as they were in 2010) it would have been an equally fitting end. If the tent that covered the stage was less sturdy, they would have torn the whole goddamn roof off the place.
And suddenly it was time for the final act of the night, the culmination of everything that made ALL CAPS! the success that it has been. The headliner was Rich Aucoin, who puts on without a doubt the best live show in the country every time he shows up.
His shows have been talked about before, but here’s what happens during his sets. He performs alongside hilarious YouTube videos, prefaced by an epic pre-show that features shoutouts to music people (fun fact: one of the shoutouts was to none other than one of our owls, Elena) and his sets are basically just a huge party. Every song has some kind of a singalong chorus that the crowd is more than happy to sing back, and Aucoin doesn’t hesitate to get into the crowd and perform there. During the set, you will put your arms around strangers without hesitation.
This time he outdid his usual parachute by bringing in one that was probably two or three times as big, ushering in perhaps the biggest Rich Aucoin Parachute Dance Party ever done. Aucoin ended the set with the infinitely joyous “It” and its infinitely joyous chorus of “We won’t leave it all in our heads,” a chorus that truly echoed everything all attendees were likely thinking about the festival in general.
No one leaves an ALL CAPS! festival and keeps the memories locked up; after another glorious festival, all anyone wanted to talk about was how they wish it could never end.
Knowing Wavelength, however, just because ALL CAPS! is over, it doesn’t mean its spirit will be gone forever. There’s too much passion involved for it to just simply die away.
On August 10 and 11, hundreds of passionate music fans got together, and it was beautiful.