This past weekend Hamilton's Gage Park hosted the annual Festival of Friends. I first heard about the fest in the early 90s when my sister lived in Hamilton. I can't remember if she ever took me or not (that is a long time ago, after all), but either way, now I've been myself. It was a short visit – a turn on the ferris wheel, a wander round the vendor stalls, one beer and one live set – but well worth the bus ride there and the FREE admission. The event draws an interesting collection of people (all the way from babies to retirees, I would say) and is pretty successful at drumming up a festive atmosphere.
I would've liked to check out more of the performers over the course of the weekend but decided to concentrate my attention on former Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy. Fresh from a flight over the ocean, Murphy and his band had pockets of black-clad fans dancing and singing along, but seemed to keep even the more 'ordinary' listeners well entertained. I was amused by the minor costume adjustments he managed to maneuver, not to mention his lithe movements around the front of the stage, and especially the bouncing during one song. The 'goth' was kept at a low to moderate level, maybe part of the outdoor environment and mixed crowd, but he did squeeze in an (expected) acoustic version of "Bela Lugosi's Dead."
A mere 24 hours later found me in a very different space, musically and materially. As the fuzzy picture above (poorly) documents, I made it to last night's Boris / Russian Circles show in Toronto. Lee's Palace was a little slow to let us in (giving me time for a couple of samosas) and we had to wait a little more after we got inside. Then Russian Circles came out on the tiny sliver of stage allotted to them, completely ignored the audience and wowed us with their entirely instrumental performance. It was highly amusing to watch a small sea of heads bobbing as the band slipped into a heavy, chunky groove at one point and equally amusing to feel myself responding the same way.
By the time Boris took over the venue was packed at rapidly heating up. I'm not that familiar with the band and ended up hearing a lot more mellow, melodic shoegazer stuff than I expected. Even those hypnotic wandering pieces came across loud and heavy but it was the doomier bits of the set that I liked best, and the final moments brought this side of Boris's sound to a satisfying climax. The drummer provided the most visual entertainment, with his flashy vest and huge gong (you can't see it really, but in this picture he's standing up over his drum kit after delivering his part of the finale).
Next up: Mares of Thrace at Casbah in Hamilton on Thursday, August 12. It's only $5!