Regina Folk Festival 2012: Photo Essay and Review

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Regina Folk Festival gets attendees dancing, politely waiting in line

Fun fact: The first time Montreal’s Stars appeared in Saskatoon they played at Amigos to a crowd of roughly 20 or so people, performing two full sets after the opening act cancelled.

Despite the hugely inauspicious beginning, the indie pop group has gone on to play for at least more people than that on every visit since then, including the roughly 5,000 or so in attendance at the 2012 Regina Folk Festival.

The headlining act on Saturday night, Stars played a rousing set of gentle anthems that covered most of their releases, including songs from their yet-to-be-released album The North. While the auxiliary members, a guitarist and a keyboard player, visually st(r)uck out like two sore thumbs, the rest of the band appeared to be in fine form – guitarist Amy Millan’s disco ball dress was purely mesmerizing.

Regina Folk Festival stars

Appearing before the headliners, Toronto electro popsters Austra similarly gave a memorable performance, with songstress Katie Stelmanis delivering a cool cadre of vocal lines from behind her sunglasses-at-night routine.

Drunkenly lurching around (dancing) is never a waste of time

The secret act of Saturday night, Austra’s appearance at the Regina German Club was far more haphazard and telling of the level of inebriation of the crowd. However, the sloppy onstage antics were certainly warmly received regardless, serving as a reminder that drunkenly lurching around (dancing) is never a waste of time.

Friday night of the festival similarly showcased an eclectic mix of music, including the dark theatre brood-pop of Timber Timbre, the high-energy hip-hop of Shad, the legendary gospel crooning of Mavis Staples and Can-rock icon Jim Cuddy.

All acts turned in an excellent performance, despite having little, if anything, in common with one another musically.

One highlight in particular was Rich Aucoin, who, during his one man electro set, got festival-goers at the front of the stage to grab on to a parachute while he ran around underneath, grade 3-style.

Regina Folk Festival rich aucoin

Sitting in a folding chair with your arms crossed instead of dancing/lurching around is never a good use of time

The strangest thing about the festival, however, is the audience’s behavior. A massive line-up flanked the perimeter of the festival grounds, with patrons waiting up to five hours for the main stage area to open. During the day, the festival grounds seemed to be perpetually guarded by a fence made of human limbs and lawn chairs.

I know that staking out a sweet spot to throw down a blanket and watch the musicians play is an important part of a festival experience. But no matter where you are sitting in the main stage area you are pretty much guaranteed a comfortable spot to sit where you can see the stage.

Similarly, why deprive yourself of watching any number of the sweet workshop showcases that happen throughout the day. Members of Cold Specks jamming with Timber Timbre and the Great Lake Swimmers? Puh-lease!

Despite the best of intentions, sitting in a folding chair with your arms crossed instead of dancing/lurching around is never a good use of time.