It’s over. SappyFest arrived Friday evening then slipped away into the night sometime late Sunday. The tenth edition of the festival in Sackville, N.B. featured the tagline “Looks like we made it”. It’s printed on a huge banner that stretched across the fences surrounding the MainStage area. Another sign with the slogan “Ambiguous at best” was there once again. I think I saw it at some point, but I couldn’t tell you where exactly. For the second year in a row, we present the Ambiguous Awards, a list of completely made up awards presented for arbitrary reasons to performers from the festival.
Best Dressed – B.A. Johnston
The winner of both best dressed and best undressed goes to B.A. Johnston. The Hamilton artist fully embraces the concept of layers, including a Fred Flintstone t-shirt. His iconic sailor’s hat is a classic look few can pull of with such elegance. Jean shorts are always a good choice at a bowling alley, keeping you cool while looking cool. And finally, nothing is as cool as not wearing a shirt. Best dressed. Best undressed. B.A. Johnston. 2014 winner: Shotgun Jimmie, who once again wore many of the same clothes
Best Snailhouse cover band – Michael Feuerstack
Michael Feuerstack backed by members of the Olympic Symphonium at #sappyfestx A photo posted by Mixtape Magazine (@mixtape_mag) on
For the second year in a row, Michael Feuerstack takes home the prestigous Snaihouse cover band award. Joined by members of the OIympic Symphonium, Feuerstack played songs released under his own name along with older Snailhouse classics.
2014 winner: Michael Feuerstack, he really knows how to play those Snailhouse songs
Best band to crowd surf to – Doldrums
As the atmospheric intro to “Loops” droned on, front person Airick Woodhead asked the crowd to hold a crowd surfer still in the air. He told the audience to imagine nobody else was there and she was just floating in the room. She remained still with arms outstretched for a few moments as electronic synths swirled around the tent before the band continued with the song. It was the calmest moment in a set full of dancing, soft moshing and lots of crowdsurfing.
2014 winner: The Constantines, a band that sounds nothing like Doldrums
Best hat-trick – Human Music
Human Music, Shotgun Jimmie and Adrian Teacher and the Subs all toured together on the way to Sappy (as documented in our All Roads Lead To Sappy tour blog). The three members of Human Music played their own set on the MainStage, performed as Shotgun Jimmie’s backing band and all made appearances during the Adrian Teacher and the Subs set. They were basically the SappyFest house band, delivering an abundance of catchy riffs while constantly swapping instruments. 2014 winner: Julie Doiron, who did play a surprise set at Thunder & Lightning on Sunday this year.
Best banter – B.A. Johnston
When life gives you a chance to take shots at Moncton, you take them. 2014 winner: Rae Spoon, a very entertaining individual.
Best use of that wire that goes across the MainStage – Diana
A photo posted by Mixtape Magazine (@mixtape_mag) on
Before Toronto’s Diana started their set, front person Carmen Elle came to the front of the stage and looked at the wire going across the front of the MainStage, wondering what it was. Later on during the band’s groovy show, she held her hand on the wire, leaned out over the audience and sang some vocals with “I’m feeling this show and I like it” delivery.
2014 winner: None. Was that wire there last year?
Best light show – Vogue Dots
Travel delays with Speedy Ortiz bumped Vogue Dots from the bowling alley at 1 a.m. to a slot on the MainStage at 9 p.m. The electro-pop duo of Babette Hayward and Tynan Duffield were joined by Nathan Doucet on drums, playing with them for the first time after briefly rehearsing the songs beforehand. A few minutes into the show, Hayward asked for the lights to be dimmed, a smart move as the tent morphed into a dark dream world. There were strobe lights, flashing lights but not spotlights. All of the lights.
2014 winner: None. There definitely were lights last year.
Best Moment – Shotgun Jimmie encore
SappyFest is often described as summer camp, a festival that feels like a week away with your best friends in a magical world, much like a camp experience. If SappyFest is like camp, Shotgun Jimmie is the camp counsellor that everybody thinks is cool and hopes to hang out with at least once during the camp week. Jimmie writes songs about SappyFest and can be found front stage when his friends play. On Sunday night, while closing out the MainStage, he covered the Constantine’s Young Lions as an encore. Along with Human Music, he was joined by Steve Lambke and Bry Webb of the Constantines, Julie Doiron and Adrian Teacher. The crowd went nuts. The artists were having fun. It was a moment to remember.
2014 winner: The Constantines, who once again sort of had their moment this year.
Photo of Bry Webb: Jonathan Briggins/Mixtape Magazine