Built to Spill, Wilco, and Everyone Orchestra - Ottawa CityFolk Festival

Wilco - CityFolk Festival Jeff Tweedy - Wilco

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The growth of Folkfest to Cityfolk is almost staggering to where we are today. Each step in the evolution has provided me with bittersweet memories. This latest jump was far better than any expectation one could come up with. Surely I miss Britannia and especially Sir Charles Tupper when Folkfest had the perfect combination of high quality acts with a small hometown feel but this is now the big-time thanks to the wonderfully redesigned Lansdowne layout. 

The harmonies from Lucious perfectly fit everyone gathering their bits. Upon reflection of our day’s music, this band ended up being slotted perfectly because a tone was set. Attention was grabbed and formulas were going to be thrown out the window. Lucinda Williams and the Buick 6 provided the perfect sundown soundtrack, unlike any I have really seen before. It was a mesmerizing set of Bakersfield outlaw country. Towards the end of that we headed to see our resident player ‘ersh perform with Terra Lightfoot and I melted at one of my favourite performances of the day while they pummeled In The Pines. It was joyously sparkling with angst. 

Built To Spill - CityFolk Festival Built to Spill

Built To Spill then stepped up to the plate and drove us into an alternate existence. “Where am I again?” – usually you have to imbibe for a band to take you on such a journey but not with these guys. They drip psychedelia and their interplay is underrated for how far they get out there. I laughed when I felt ripped off things were over after they covered How Soon Is Now. 

We somehow make it to the main stage for Wilco and adjusted our mindsets realizing they were performing most (if not all) of their latest album Star Wars. By the way, I love Wilco but to be honest I am really pissed off they had the nerve to name an album Star Wars. Thankfully a knee bending Where Do I Begin into Cold Slope every question I had. Those two numbers should remain a part of Wilco’s repertoire for years.

Forget The Flowers and Handshake Drugs exploded after the material from the new album while a nod to the recent past may have provided Wilco’s shining achievement during this set, The Art Of Almost. That was most likely the song of the show. Tweedy played a Les Paul during I’m Always In Love which really gave that song punch and benefited I’m The Man Who Loves You later in the set. Impossible Germany described the course of the set and before I knew it everything was over and I was making my way to all the people I lost during the last 30 minutes on the main stage. Sure enough, they were at Everyone Orchestra. ‘ersh was pounding keys, Andrew Barr was layering rhythms and the conductor looked like the mad hatter from Alice In Wonderland while he showed each of us what our dream job is. This was easily the best band of the day and one of the best improvisational collaborations I have ever seen.

Everyone Orchestra - CityFolk Festival Everyone Orchestra

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CityFolk have really upped the ante on what we may see come through town. It’s entirely possible this becomes my go-to Festival each year. It’s a shame the sound at the Ravenlaw Stage could use some help but that is a minor complaint considering how the grounds are set up perfectly. The bar has been set high for Cityfolk and I am already looking forward to the line up for 2016.