June 27 – 29, being Canada Day weekend, was a weekend of festivals with Scenefest going on in St. Catharines and the lesser known Lachie Fest in Hagersville, ON at the Cayuga Speedway. Lachie Fest being it’s first year was also hosted by the infamous, Trailer Park Boys.
While we were at Scenefest on Saturday June 28, I noticed photos of Lachie Fest on some of my friends instagram feeds – it looked like a fun time so I looked up the schedule for Sunday June 29 which included, The Balconies, JulyTalk, Rival Sons, and The Trews as headliners with a slew of indie bands. A decent enough lineup, so I made a few calls and scored a couple of passes and off we went.
It turned out to be an odd experience from the moment we arrived. As we entered the parking lot, we were surprised we were able to get parking right up near the entrance and once we walked in, it was easy to tell the attendance was dismal. The setup was two stages facing the same way with a beer garden between the two. The idea was to have one band play on one stage while another band was setting up on the other. When a band finished people had to walk all the way around the beer garden area to then get to the other stage. So it was a day of people walking back and forth. It was just sad to see the small crowd having to walk all the around stage to stage as it spread out the crowd making it look even worse.
There were a number of bands playing on both stages before JulyTalk’s performance. Notable acts were The Balconies who are always fun to watch and an indie act from London, ON called Texas King who were a pleasant surprise.
With each act, I kept expecting more people to arrive and once July Talk hit the stage it had grown to be an “ok” size but definitely not near what was expected. Just a sign of a poorly promoted event, not the fault of the performers.
I have been hearing a lot about July Talk for almost a year now, but truthfully whenever I’ve heard their music, I haven’t been able to get around the fact that Peter Dreimanis’s voice sounds like he is trying to be Tom Waits. It may be just me, but being a Tom Waits fan, it’s hard to listen to a mimicked version of something so unique.
My opinion changed quickly as the band has a great dynamic onstage between Peter Dreimanis and July Talk’s other vocalist Leah Fay. Leah takes the stage with a very unassuming manner at times ignoring the crowd while connecting with specific people as if they were lifelong friends. The two singers are great to watch as they have a great rapport with each other – sometimes being a little risque adding to the mystique to the band -including Peter on his knees mimicking fellatio with Leah’s microphone. Leah’s onstage antics takes a page out of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O’s book of tricks. Which is a compliment as Karen O is someone who I look at as one of the strongest front person of the last decade.
The sparse crowd was enthusiastic and the size didn’t seem to matter to the band. They played as if there were thousands of people there and I was sold. I love seeing bands who give it their all no matter what. The songs were interesting, catchy, and quirky at times. My opinion changed and I started to understand what they were doing. Just hearing their songs on the radio didn’t do it for me, but seeing the performance has made me a fan.
At one point Leah told the people in the crowd to remove their sunglasses so she could see their eyes. Pointing out those who didn’t oblige. It became a moment where the band connected with the crowd on a personal level and had the crowd telling those who didn’t take off their sunglasses to participate uniting everyone making them feel as though the band recognized their fans and appreciated them.
Peter’s guitar style was a nice addition with it being sparse at time while frantic with reckless ambition at others. I love seeing the true rock n roll abandonment attitude come out true to form – too many bands play it safe. Peter wails on his guitar at times, it’s amazing if it stays in tune but that’s part of the essence of what rock n roll is about and what is missing in so many performances that I see.
The standout songs for me were Paper Girl and Guns + Ammunition.
The band finished and dark clouds rolled in looking like a tornado was on the horizon and we decided to miss out on Rival Sons and The Trews. Just another sign of the bad luck Lachie Fest was receiving this year as we weren’t the only ones to bail. I hope they are able to come back with a successful outing next year.