CBC Music Festival

Wow, what an experience. What else can I really say about this weekend.

I’ve already wrote about Of Monsters and Men once before and at the time I had no idea that an opportunity to see them in concert would come along so soon. And so I found myself attending the first annual CBC Music Festival at Echo Beach in Toronto. Needless to say, I was pumped for the weeks leading up to the event. It was my chance to see my current (and possibly all-time) favourite band live, throw in some Corb Lund, Sloan, Kathleen Edwards, and Sam Roberts … what more could a guy want.

There were several other artists as well, though I showed up a couple of hours into the festival, and mostly stuck to the main stage. From a Stompin’ Tom Connors tribute (Lund), to some good old fashioned rocking out (Sloan), some hilarious banter about America and listening to ones nether regions (Edwards), and swarms of people dancing around in the sand (Sam Roberts) the acts of the four aforementioned artists were fantastic. Corb Lund’s introduction to the Hockey Song cover actually gave me goosebumps (though the wind may have also played a role in that).

Having said this and I know I’m biased (and I’m sure fans of these other bands would contest), but Of Monsters and Men were the highlight of the festival. It may also be due to watching them from a much smaller distance than the other acts. Well, other than Kathleen Edwards as I inched my way forward during her performance in order to get as close as possible for the Iceland folk artists who were following her.

It’s hard to say exactly what it was about Of Monsters and Men’s performance that made it so amazing, as it was likely a combination of a few things. Most importantly, they took control of the crowd from the instant they got on stage. From the lead ins to their songs, invitations to join in the singing (mostly for parts where the lyrics consisted of “hey” and “la la la la”), directions to claps along, and Nanna’s cute “thank you”s into the mic after every couple songs. The clincher was when they sprayed man-made snow out into the crowd during the finale (as seen below) that made me think of both Canada and their Icelandic homeland all at once.

The other major thing they had going for them was that they’re a new up and coming band. I actually had a conversation about this with one of the girls next to me in the crowd. Unlike Sloan and Sam Roberts, who have over a dozen albums between them, Of Monsters and Men have just the one. With an hour in which to perform, this meant they were able to breed familiarity by playing nearly their entire album while the other artists were “forced” to choose between new hits and old favourites. By my count they performed 11 of 13 tracks from their CD (Numb Bears and Sloom being the tracks exlcluded) as well as a previously performed yet not yet released song, Beneath My Bed.

All in all it was a ton of fun, and although I found myself attending the festival alone I shared a lot of laughs and had a ton of fun dancing with those around me.

I’m not much of a concert goer (this being my fourth one … second if you don’t count university orientation weeks), and going into it I was thinking that seeing Of Monsters and Men perform live was something I wanted to do once in my life while I had the chance. As it played out though, I not only found myself wanting to see any and all shows they play in the area, but also has me considering attending other concerts in the near future.

Nanna and Ragnar from Of Monsters and Men

Nanna and Ragnar from Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men performing Lakehouse

Of Monsters and Men performing Lakehouse

Of Monsters and Men performing Love Love Love

Of Monsters and Men performing Love Love Love

Of Monsters and Men performing Yellow Lights while snow pours down on the crowd

Of Monsters and Men performing Yellow Lights while snow pours down on the crowd