Sunday, July 07, 2013

TURF Day 3: The Hold Steady, Lowest Of The Low, and more

After taking Friday night off (a sign that I'm getting too old for these things), it was back down to Fort York on Saturday for Day three of TURF.

Larry & His Flask's newest fan
Oregon bluesgrass/punk outfit Larry & His Flask were the find of the festival in my book.  They plowed through songs at breakneck speed while still featuring fiddle, banjo, and upright bass.  They even had my two year-old on her feet and dancing.   I highly recommend catching them if you can, the entertainment value is huge.

The JUNO Award-nominated Hannah Georgas was an out-of-place selection for the festival.  As she's gone further and further towards the pop end of the spectrum, she's left any semblance of her roots behind, and frankly become far less interesting and unique a musician.  The beats emanating from the stage back me up on that one.

Back on the West Stage, The Felice Brothers proved more than capable of picking up the gauntlet thrown down by Larry & His Flask.  While their set was more restrained (probably due to some superior musicianship), they still proved that roots music doesn't need to be boring.


Even though I missed most of his set (while dropping off the kid back at home), British punk poet Frank Turner had the crowd buzzing.  He was definitely the talk of the festival to that point.

Local legends Lowest Of The Low were clearly using TURF as a warm-up before they head back into the studio to record a long-awaited new album.  There were definitely kinks that need to be ironed out, but any time I get to hear songs from my teenage years like "Salesmen, Cheats & Liars", "Eternal Fatalist", "Bleed A Little While Tonight", "Gossip Talkin' Blues", and "Under the Carlaw Bridge" it's a good time.  They dropped in some new numbers and a couple from their last comeback album, Sordid Fiction, into the set before wrapping things up with a stunning rendition of "Rosy And Grey".

In my years of concert-going, there have been few bands who rock out as hard and as consistently as The Hold Steady.  Craig Finn and company delivered yet again on Saturday night.  Finn's spastic delivery and banter have a lot to do with their live experience.  He was in fine form on this night, although it would be nice if he could hold the microphone to his face a little bit more so we could hear what he's belting out.

The band deliver all the favorites, with songs like "Chips Ahoy!", "Stuck Between Stations", "Sequestered In Memphis", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "Constructive Summer", and "Magazines" drawing huge reactions.  The highlight of the night (and possibly all of TURF) being the singalong to "Southtown Girls".

On a couple of occasions it was clear that there's something missing with the absence of Franz Nicolay.  Songs like "Girls Like Status" are lacking without the keyboards.

Also preparing to head into the studio to record a new record, The Hold Steady dropped some new material on fans as well.  My initial impression are that the riffs are solid and the arrangements seem well worked through, but the lyrics left me less inspired.

With chants of "one more song" echoing, the band came out and performed a buzzsaw version of "Stay Positive".  Joining them on stage was Frank Turner, who played the role of star-struck fanboy to perfection.

By the time THS were done, and the crowd finally convinced that they weren't coming out again, Flogging Molly were already onto the headlining set on the East Stage.  Nobody really seemed to mind though.

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