The green hills of Christie Pit Park in Toronto were the backdrop to the Bloor Ossington Folk Festival. The crisp afternoon and evening sent off the summer festival season with a relaxed vibe. A real neighbourhood affair, local artisans set up shop, parents strolled by with toddlers and kids in tow and young music fans pulled up quilts and settled down to soak in some music. Evelyn Hornbeck was on hand to catch the Saturday festivities.
The Highest Order
As the last set before dinner, The Highest Order’s set drew quite a few kids before they toddled off home. Afternoon park walkers were amused to find themselves in the middle of a festival. For this reason, it was one of the best attended sets of the day, and the band did not disappoint. “How are you doing on the play structures?” Simone Schmidt called out. “How about in the beer tent?” An enthusiastic audience (which included mayoral candidate Olivia Chow) cheered back.
After not playing a solo show for a while, Will Kidman (keyboardist for the Constantines) made his solo return at BOFF and lulled the crowd with his acoustic guitar as the afternoon crept into the evening. He played perfectly relaxing, park-sitting music that was oddly punctuated by a pickup basketball game behind him.
The set was electrifying. Not quite, but rain came down, the husband and wife duo of Andrew Whiteman (Broken Social Scene, Apostle of Hustle) and Ariel Engle (Hydra) had to cut their set short out of fear of shock. But before that, the duo welcomed the darkness with their deep, expansive songs. They got most of their set in before the crowd had to run for the shelter in the sound booth and beer tent.
A devoted crowd hiked to the side stage in the rain and crowded into the stage’s tent. Steve Lambke, of the Constantines, was joined by Will Kidman, and played the rain away. The audience snuggled in close, practically erasing the space between audience and performer. It was such a relaxed affair, the crowd convinced Lambke to play an encore.
Rained off the main stage, Brendan Canning (Broken Social Scene) gathered the audience under the twinkle lights of the beer garden for an intimate set. Accompanied by a full band, Canning played some solid oldies, including Broken Social Scene track “Handjobs for the Holidays”. “These are songs you may never hear again,” he said. “I mean, I hope that’s not the case but you never know.”
Photo of Brendan Canning: Evelyn Hornbeck/Mixtape Magazine