Ah, Supercrawl! You left me reeling, yet again. This was the 5th annual Supercrawl, and my third one. The build-up for it was higher than ever and it was the biggest year yet with 100,000 people in attendance. It was an exciting whirlwind of a weekend and once again I’m left with the colossal undertaking of capturing it all as best I can!
SUPERCRAWL: ROUND ONE
Things kicked off with a bang on Friday evening. It was a chilly night, but that didn’t stop everyone from hitting the streets. My first stop was The Baltimore House, where there was a great lineup all weekend. I couldn’t miss Illitry – it was their first time performing in the space and I knew they would sound amazing in there. They had a full weekend ahead with another performance the following night on the Dr. Disc stage (which I helped to coordinate!). Illitry and pumpkin beer at Baltimore was just what I needed to kick off my festivities.
Meeting up with my friend Steph, it was over to the Dr. Disc stage to see who we could catch. The Danks were up and put on a fun set that had the crowd bobbing in the chilly night air. We had just missed a shower of confetti from the previous band. You know how I love my confetti.
There was a lot of excitement for the major acts of Supercrawl’s first night. Montreal’s Young Galaxy were fresh off their Polaris Prize nomination and a performance on CBC’s Q that morning. A few of us maneuvered our way closer to the stage to take it in. Watching them play “New Summer” in the dark, with the pink and blue lights cascading over the band, was very atmospheric.
In between the music, we roamed the streets to take in the vibe of the night. One of my favourite installations was “Smokelife” by Roy Caussy, which aimed to “create an auspicious environment with common materials.”
After a quick pit stop to refuel at Ola Bakery (custard tarts are a must), headliners Wintersleep took the stage. It was lovely listening to them in the huddled crowd (did I mention how cold it was?). Hearing “Weighty Ghost” live was pretty magical – I had never seen the band live and it was a treat having them at Supercrawl.
We ended the evening by rounding back to Baltimore House for some drinks and to catch the remaining electronic acts. Then it was time to call it a night – I had a full day ahead for round two.
SUPERCRAWL: ROUND TWO
Where to begin! I kicked off the day at Homegrown Hamilton to grab a coffee, visit 93.3 CFMU’s live broadcast, and pick up a copy of their annual compilation Everybody Dance Now, Volume 8. The Bomb Squad Art Crew were also outside creating one of their masterpieces.
Then it was over to the main stage for my first band of the day. I doubled the amount of bands I saw from the night before and managed to catch eight (I saw many of the bands included on my Supercrawl Playlist!) It’s so hard to get to everything; you just have to make your picks and go for it.
PS I Love You were a solid start to the day. I managed to multi-task – sip coffee, take photos, rock out. Well, a modest head-bob, but I was digging them. It always impresses me what a two-piece setup can do.
Walking from the main stage all the way down James North, I was overwhelmed already. Maybe it was the caffeine, but I was shaking with excitement! There’s absolutely nothing like the energy of Supercrawl.
There were a ton of vendors set up in the Tivoli lot, which is also the site of one of my favourite pieces of street art. Lester Coloma’s massive mural of a rabbit riding a turtle always makes me smile. Speaking of white rabbits, Dizzy Alice were my next visit. Co-owners Alicia and Vanessa are absolutely delightful and I always enjoy taking a peek at the treasures they have for sale. As a total bonus, they had cupcakes!
I’m so inspired by the creative females (and their amazing fashion sense) who are rocking the pop-up shops. Along with Dizzy Alice, I spotted Girls With Gunz and Maya Amoah of Nebula Artwear set up at Supercrawl.
For the first time, Supercrawl extended all the way to the Waterfront. I would have loved to have made it down there to see bands like Young Rival and LeE HaRVEY OsMOND, but I covered enough ground. I didn’t even get to checking out very much food (shocking!), but brand new restaurants included The Burnt Tongue and LAVO Lounge. Now on my list to try!
On my way to pop into the James North General Store, I stumbled upon the last bit of X Ambassadors‘ set. While I’m not too familiar with the band (missed them recently at Casbah, darn!) they were really entertaining and impressed me in the short time I saw them. Watch a short a clip I took of their performance of “Brother.”
Next, I raced to the Dr. Disc stage to see perhaps the most creative performance of Supercrawl – Hachey the MouthPEACE‘s collaboration with members of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Hachey’s beatboxing paired with the brass instruments was just the coolest. They arranged innovative renditions of contemporary songs like Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” There was a kid who busted some serious moves in front of the stage who made my life (you just had to see it).
Another creative installation was the carousel made out of shopping carts! I watched my friends Steph and Roslyn take it for a spin before sprinting over to Baltimore House to catch The Great Machine. So many bands, so little time! I’m glad I caught them – they were rad, as always.
After that, I had to race all the way back down the street to catch one of my favourite acts. I took care to dress in Supercrawl colours all weekend, but in the frenzy of it all, didn’t get to be in any photos, myself. Huge thanks to Alicia of Dizzy Alice for capturing the ‘ol outfit of the day as we breezed past each other on the street, paparazzi-style!
Diamond Rings was one of the acts I was most excited for. After seeing his live show last fall at This Ain’t Hollywood, I was hooked. He is a brilliant showman and got the crowd dancing along with him. I was so happy he was part of Supercrawl. And shout out to Hamilton’s own Greg Santilly on the drums! Watch some footage of his performance of “Runaway Love.”
Mark Furukawa and I locked down The Ascot Royals for the Dr. Disc stage months ago and I was really excited for them to play Supercrawl. The highly anticipated Circus Orange performance was scheduled after them, so there was a barrier set up in preparation. Even though there was a divide between the band and audience, the Ascots absolutely rocked it. You can always count on an energetic live set from the band. Lead singer Jimmy Chauveau even jumped off the stage to get closer to the fans.
After their performance at last year’s Supercrawl, Circus Orange were in high demand again. The crowd that formed along Wilson Street to see them was unreal. The spectacle of it was a really exciting addition to Supercrawl.
Another major musical highlight for me was METZ. So rad! I discovered the band too late and sadly missed them playing Baltimore House last fall. When the Supercrawl lineup was announced with an adorable video, my jaw dropped when one of the kids said their name. This was my shot! I nabbed a front row spot by the barricade and held my ground amongst fans in the pit.
It was important to stake out a good spot for the main event, Passion Pit. A massive crowd gathered at the main stage at King and James, spilling onto King William. The sea of people was an amazing sight. I kept thinking how cool it was that a street I walk on practically daily was now the site of this massive event, and there we were, watching one of the hippest bands right now.
It was a dance party in the streets! Passion Pit’s lead singer Michael Angelakos engaged the audience and had everyone singing along. Check out a short clip from their performance of the hit single “Carried Away.” Apologies for the shakiness; I was getting jostled by the fans!
Along with Passion Pit, a few of the bands from out of town expressed some kind words about Hamilton during their sets. It seemed like they were thoroughly impressed with Supercrawl and this city.
To be sure, there are a ton of acts I missed – Yo La Tengo, Joel Plaskett, Fucked Up, Said the Whale, Allegories, The Dirty Nil, WTCHS… the lineup was absolutely insane. Supercrawl really outdid itself this year. I was super proud!
Thank you to everyone involved with Supercrawl for an incredible weekend and for all of your hard work. This festival makes me so proud of my city. I get asked all the time, “What’s your favourite thing about Hamilton?” and this event really encompasses it all.
On the official Supercrawl site, there is a message thanking everyone for attending and a countdown to Supercrawl 2014. At the exact time of writing this, it’s 324 days, 11 hours, 52 mins, and 28 seconds away.
And I can’t wait!