I was really excited to hit the streets the next day. I don’t think I can ever fully articulate how much Supercrawl means to me. There is an energy about it that’s unlike any other event. It makes me feel so proud of my city.
We lucked out in the beginning with a grey, yet clear, sky. Meeting up with Lisa and Trish, we hit the ground running. Saturday gave us a chance to walk the length of the street more and take in the vendors and art installations. It’s so fun to be on the street when it’s shut down like this and to see everyone out and about, spilling in and out of the shops, galleries, and cafés. It makes me wish we could do it more often! How cool would it be to have the street shut down like this during the spring/summer Art Crawls. We should capture the Supercrawl vibes more than once a year.
Part 3: Saturday, September 12th
It was a packed schedule starting at noon that included a few official duties. First up, playing host at the TD stage in the Dr. Disc lot. I was slated to introduce the first three acts: High Kites, Customaries, and Aron D’Alesio. Naturally, I took this as an opportunity to take some selfies with bands.
High Kites is one of the coolest local bands around right now, and I’m reminded every time I see them just how great they are. Steve McKay, Dylan Hudecki, Andy Richardson, and Dan Empringham rocked it – awesome energy to start the day with. Customaries continued strong, and my pal Aron D’Alesio nailed his set, as always. I really wanted to introduce him, Oprah-style, as “Aroooooooon D’Alesioooooooooo!”. I chickened out, but know that I was thinking it.
It wouldn’t be a festival without Hamilton Aerial Group. The women marvelled us with their talents. It was a prime spot for them on Wilson Street, with the bands providing a soundtrack for them to whip around on the silks. Unfortunately, the weather made it difficult for them to do their scheduled performances later on, but they continued to impress as they marched around on stilts, even in the rain.
High on my must-see list was The Elwins. They are delightful. The weather actually brightened during their set. To give you an idea of how sweet they are, they paused mid-set and took a moment to say “Let’s give a round of applause for friends. And friendship in general.” D’awwww.
The audience danced and sang along during the whole set. Further adding to the joyful vibes, one audience member held up a puppet, making it sing along to every single lyric. At another point, a small child ran through the crowd, hitting unsuspecting audience members in the face with her helium balloon on a string. I’m not kidding when I say an Elwins show is a joyful, whimsical experience!
The Elwins’ latest album Play For Keeps was released on Hamilton label Hidden Pony. Fittingly, it was label president ‘Parkside’ Mike Renaud’s birthday that day, and the band gave him a shout out from the stage. They noted that they’ve attended Supercrawl in the past and remember seeing Broken Social Scene a few years back. It was awesome for them to be on the main stage for their first Supercrawl performance. A highlight for me was hearing them do their cover of Beyonce’s “Countdown.”
Can’t forget about the food! This year saw the biggest food truck selection than ever before. Despite many local favourites, plus out of town trucks to choose from, Trish and I knew we had to go for Jonny Blonde as soon as we saw it. We hyped up their “Peachy Blonde” so much, Lisa got one too, and we all took a break to chow down inside Tourism Hamilton’s Visitor Centre. Also conveniently parked outside – booths by Wine Country Ontario and Mike’s Hard Lemonade who were giving out samples. We took full advantage.
Another cool element was the real LRT car outside the Lister Block. Visitors had the chance to hop aboard and tour it, getting a feel for what it will really be like once we have the anticipated track up and running. I gotta say – it felt good!
Then it was time for some more official duties. We headed over to Homegrown Hamilton where 93.3 CFMU’s official broadcast was going live. Jamie Tennant and Ingie Metwally were on site all day long, interviewing bands and community members.
I was super excited because I got to interview Rich Aucoin for the second time that weekend! The day before, we chatted on my show over the phone. Last year, Rich played Supercrawl’s pre-show at This Ain’t Hollywood, so it was full circle to have him back again. It was awesome to get to see Rich and chat in person before he performed that night.
I also got to chat with Brad Germain of Spruce Invaders about their performance the night before. Listen to the interviews!
Meanwhile, music continued on out on the streets. Grey Lands took to the local stage to play tracks off their brand new album, Right Arm, which was released just the day before. Drummer Dan Empringham was all over the place that weekend – also playing earlier that day with High Kites, and playing a solo electronic set as Ducats later on at The Baltimore House.
Another band I’m always happy to see is Rah Rah. I had to miss their performance on the main stage, but luckily they played the official after party the following night (more on that later!).
One of the most anticipated performances of the weekend was Illitry‘s collaboration with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. The set was remounted from HPO’s Indie Series back in June at Park Street Gasworks. That was an incredible show and I was glad to see the set again. Unfortunately, at this point in the night, the rain was at its worst. Despite that, there was a big crowd that formed in Dr. Disc’s lot. A huge downpour struck and the set had to be cut short. Knowing how hard they worked on this collaboration, I really hope we get to see it again!
From there, we had to take cover for about an hour, but on the bright side, it was a chance to give our feet a rest and take a breather. A sign of good things to come, the rain let up and a brilliant orange and pink sky erupted. Cue the sunset Instagrams!
It was a huge blessing that the rain let up enough for the music to continue – my number one act to see was Rich Aucoin. It was a close call, but the show went on. While they set up at the Miller/Exclaim stage, Lisa and I danced around in the rain to the pop music that blared, inspired to create a little umbrella choreography. It’s little moments like this that I’ll remember about Supercrawl 2015 – making the best of the weather, which was only really a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.
The lights went out and a starry sky background appeared on the screen onstage. I always get goosebumps when I hear the intro music of Rich’s set. Shout outs to Hamilton, Supercrawl, James North, and some of the bands went across the screen like the opening credits to a film.
Rich’s show is something that needs to be experienced. I talk it up so much but it’s never until people experience it for themselves that they really get it. There’s nothing like it. You’re part of the show just as much as Rich and the band are. The line between performer and audience becomes blurred as Rich spends just as much time down on the ground with you than on the stage. It’s a shared experience.
What’s a little rain, after all, when you’re under a parachute? The rainbow ‘chute is a staple of Rich’s show. Repeat audience members flip out when he pulls out his suitcase and starts to unravel it, tossing it into the audience. I hadn’t seen Rich at an outdoor show yet, and it was the coolest thing to stretch out the parachute, filling the whole parking lot on Colbourne Street. We all shook it up and down before racing underneath, Rich leading the way, creating a huge rainbow dome. Being under that parachute is a visual I’ll always remember of my Supercrawl 2015 adventures, along with that unbelievable energy and feeling that I’ve only ever experienced at a Rich Aucoin show.
After all of that excitement, it was time for a quick rest stop at The Baltimore House. Similar to last year, the venue delivered another solid weekend lineup for the occasion. One of my main picks was Pick A Piper. It was an appropriate next act to catch because I saw them open for Rich Aucoin in Toronto earlier this year. I couldn’t resist their rhythms and knew I had to see them again. It was nice to warm up inside and with a drink before heading back out.
Saturday’s headliner was the phenomenal ensemble Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. Last year, we were treated to the Daptone Soul Revue including Charles Bradley, Antibalas, and The Sugarman 3. That would be hard to top, but seconds into the Dap Kings’ overture, I knew we were in for a spectacle. The band hyped us up with a couple of songs before Ms. Sharon Jones graced the stage, launching into “Stranger to my Happiness.” The funky sound of that soul music is irresistible.
It was an absolute honour to see this woman live. At 59 years old, Sharon Jones is one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t stop smiling while watching her; I was completely transfixed. You couldn’t stop yourself from bopping and dancing along. Her dance moves were unreal!
Sharon broke things down before singing “Get Up and Get Out,” a song which took on a different connotation that night. Sharon spoke personally to the audience about the cancer that had returned, saying that she just started chemotherapy. She was in some discomfort while performing, and it was incredibly sad to hear this, but Sharon won’t let anything stop her. She confidently said she is going to keep dancing and telling the cancer to “get up and get out” until it does. The moment was unbelievably moving and inspiring to hear.
The band rocked it for the audience that was packed in tight and stretching down King Street. It was a performance that I’m grateful to have been a part of and it was an incredible finale to the day. And Supercrawl wasn’t over yet!