Another draft posts that never got published last year, this one of a Sam Roberts concert from last August:
There is no such thing as the perfect music venue but Sam Roberts, Mother Mother and the Arkells played at the closest thing to it on a glorious Monday evening at Deer Lake Park.
From the backdrop of kayakers paddling Deer Lake to the cloudless sky, a laid-back crowd and a rocking sound system, the scene was set for a trio of Canadian indie darlings Monday.
The best-venue-experience-ever started at the entrance, where a helpful (!) security guard informed us that we could fill up bottles inside at free water stations, and continued toward the stage, which we found the stage at the bottom of a magnificently sloped convex hill. The sight lines were the best of any outdoor venue I have attended. The view meant that because concert goers didn’t feel the need to rush the stage to get a good view of the band, those who do like to be close could stand within 30 metres of the stage with plenty of arm room to spare. And with the rising ground, you didn’t have to be seven-feet tall to see the stage.
As for the actual music, it was about what you would expect from two up-and-coming bands and a headliner with an exceptionally strong back catalogue to draw from.
The Arkells put on a tight, energetic show that highlighted the band’s growing indie ubiquity. It played its singles, “Oh, The Boss is Coming,” “John Lennon,” and “The Ballad of Hugo Chavez,” with energy and verve. The set lagged in parts, as can be the tendency for new bands with a limited repertoire of songs. But if their set is any indication, you can expect the Hamilton quintet to one day push Sam Roberts & Co. for Can-rock supremacy.
Mother Mother followed with their eclectic blend of harmonized vocals. Guitarist/vocalist Ryan Guldemond was joined at the front of the stage by his sister Molly and Jasmin Parker both of whom also played keyboards. The result was a varied indie rock barrage, with influences ranging from Metric to ABBA to Placebo (Ryan’s high-pitched, sometimes feminine, voice sounds cut from the same cloth as that band’s frontman).
Sam Roberts and band took to the stage with the sun beginning to dip beneath the western trees and launched into a set list that split the difference between his newest album Love at the End of the World and older material. Opening with some of the band’s strongest fist-pumpers, including Chemical City‘s The Resistence and Love at the End of the World, Roberts slowed down mid-set for Lions of the Kalahari and Bridge to Nowhere.
Clean-shaven and dwarfed by his bandmates, Roberts grew in size as he bounced around stage. Lacking the physical presence or arrogant swagger of other frontmen, he focused on taking his own advice and showed the kids how to rock n’ roll. And no Fuck Tha Police attitude here: Roberts paid tribute to the policemen and firefighters taking part in the World Police and Fire Games, for which the concert was organized, with a special kudos to those helping fight the local wildfires.
Other venue pluses: a family friendly atmosphere where small kids could safely wander and entertain fellow concertgoers by picking at the hair of relaxing couples; reasonably-priced pizza, ice cream and other festival fare; beautiful weather; a gorgeous backdrop of Deer Lake; evening shade from trees; and plenty of washrooms. Even the restriction on lawn chairs was well thought out, since it prevented those with chairs from sitting directly in front of people sprawled on blankets.
In fact, the largest sin of the organizers was a lack of communication. Finding the exact time of the concert was difficult and obtaining a photo pass was absolutely impossible. But then, when you can relax on a blanket and snack on a pizza while listening to the best music this country has to offer, who wants to be looking through a camera?