Rifflandia 2009 Day 2Photos by Aretha Munro
With the second annual Rifflandia Music Festival in full swing, day two of the festivities began with excitement and anticipation, as another list of great acts, including Mother Mother, Tegan and Sara, The Most Serene Republic and many more, were set to take the stage at various venues around the city.
With Vince Vaccaro and Our Book and the Authors starting the evening’s performances at other venues, we headed over to Alix Goolden Hall to enjoy the offerings of Victoria’s own Aidan Knight. The singer-songwriter, who learned to play the guitar with the help of Said the Whale’s Ben Worcester, took the stage quietly, but it would only be a matter of minutes before the packed house was won-over completely. Knight’s folky singer-songwriter tunes showcased a flawless, and at times sad and yearning voice, as well as some equally impressive skills with his acoustic and electric guitars. It was a combination of this, and his adorable between-song banter that had the crowd swooning. There was laughing, there was almost-crying, and when it was all over there was a huge standing ovation for the 23-year old musician, who was undoubtedly overwhelmed and jokingly turned around and started clapping too, brushing away the huge response with the humour and charm that got him there.
Following Aidan Knight’s breakthrough performance, Australian rockers An Horse began their set of indie-pop tunes with good beats and forceful, intriguing vocals. Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, the two-piece band, with Kate Cooper covering electric guitar and lead vocals, and Damon Cox on drums and back-up vocals, was formed when the two musicians started making music while at work in a record shop. Now, the duo have toured with the likes of Tegan and Sara, Death Cab for Cutie, and Silversun Pickups – and it was just announced that they will be opening for Tegan and Sara on their upcoming “Sainthood” Canadian tour in the new year. With fans in Alix Goolden Hall on the edge of their seats thoroughly enjoying every second, the band hit strong points with their hits “Camp Out” and “Postcards.” Overall a great performance, with conversational moments that showed off their very dry and sarcastic humour, An Horse put on a great show and a great opening for Tegan and Sara, the headliner of the evening at Alix Goolden Hall.
At around 9:30 the much-anticipated headliners Tegan and Sara prepared to take the stage while Supremes’ hit “You Can’t Hurry Love” played over the speakers. With the venue packed and at capacity, those who were lucky enough to get to see the show were treated not only to a barrage of the duo’s hits from their past four albums, but also to six new songs from their upcoming release “Sainthood,” which is due out October 27.
Starting with “Dark Come Soon,” from their 2007 release “The Con,” the Vancouver/Montreal based act sounded fresh and energized, likely due to the fact that it was their first performance after a long hiatus that was spent writing and recording their new album which was produced by Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie, who also produced their previous album, “The Con.” The Quin sisters are widely known not only for their hit indie pop-rock tunes, but also for their between-song banter, and on Friday night they did not disappoint, as fans were entertained by their sarcastic musings, as well as their humorous bickering.
Halfway into their set the duo performed the first of their new songs for the evening, a rockier tune called “Hell.” Written by Tegan, who also took the lead on vocals, the simple, upbeat tune seemed like a welcome return to their earlier days on the “So Jealous” album. Tegan lamented later on in the set that the song was written about Vancouver’s downtown east side, and her feelings and experiences living there. Of the other new songs performed highlights included “On Directing,” a more pop-driven song written by Sara who took the lead on vocals. Overall, Tegan and Sara’s return to the stage was a great one and an exciting preview of their upcoming album and tour.
Following the night of performances at Alix Goolden Hall we went down to Sugar Nightclub to catch the last performance of the evening by indie-rock veterans The Most Serene Republic. The venue was packed and buzzing with anticipation of the Milton, Ontario rockers, who released their third studio album this year, titled “…And the Ever Expanding Universe,” on Arts & Crafts. With many attendees evidently hearing something new, reception was overwhelmingly positive as the band rocked out playing new tunes including “Heavens to Purgatory,” as well as older hits such as “(Oh) God.” Having seen the band perform before I was happy to see they had enormously improved what had already been a great and energetic live show, with a tighter and more trained sound, and vocalist Emma Ditchburn taking a noticeably more pronounced role. Overall, The Most Serene Republic’s show was a perfect ending to a great second evening of Rifflandia 2009.