I went to MoSoFest and watched at least 40 bands play in one weekend
It’s Sunday evening and I am tired. Like, really tired. The kind of tired you get from running your ass off all weekend watching as many bands as humanly possible. But, of course, it’s not just about the music – it’s getting to see friends from all over Canada converge into the space of a few days, eating food on the run, and sipping on all the drinks. Whew.
MoSoFest, you’ve won this round. Can’t wait to do it again.
In no particular order, here are some of the highlights of our weekend:
No connecting flight? No problem
In addition to being a brilliant musician, Bradford Cox of Atlas Sound is also extremely resourceful. When his flight plans got all messed up while en route to Saskatoon, he used his time in Minneapolis’ airport to finish writing a new song. Even better, he debuted it for a packed house in Saskatoon’s Broadway Theatre. Combining washed-out soundscapes with delay pedal soundtrails, Atlas Sound is ambient music that is entirely engaging and beautifully apocalyptic.
I got to see Public Animal twice in one day
Ian Blurton rules, okay. Playing at Vangelis during the afternoon along with Future Forests, Toronto’s Public Animal ripped through a snarling set that saw Sir Blurton wander out into the parking lot to play for all the smokers. And then we got to see them get sweaty and ridiculous all over again – the perfect way to end a Saturday evening.
Calgary’s new favourite band
I almost dismissed 36? on name alone but their description as “Calgary’s new favourite band” in the MoSo schedule led me into Amigos to witness one of the best sets of the festival. 36? bounced about the stage and dove into the youthful crowd who were eating up all of their antics. Possibly Saskatoon’s new favourite band as well?
Who doesn’t like cheap beer? In celebration of our site launch, and that whole MoSoFest thing, Ominocity decided to go ahead and throw a party. And it was a good one – you helped us finish off that entire keg in just under 90 minutes. Huge thank you to everyone who came out and danced with us.
All my friends are buying diamonds for their girls
Library Voices don’t come around here much anymore. No longer embarking on ambitious, cross-Canada tours, the sprawling multi-member Regina group have become homebodies – getting hitched and having kids tends to change your schedule a little. So it was sort of a big deal to see them again – playing in front of a packed house at the Cosmo Senior Centre (or Kinsman Hall?) the group played a mixed selection of songs from their new EP as well as a few of their past gems.
MoSo = mobile + social
MoSo isn’t just an evening affair. Coinciding with the music festival is a two-day business conference focusing on design, development and marketing. Hundreds of sharply dressed techies crammed into the Broadway Theatre to learn and be inspired. Bloomberg TV host Jeffrey Hayzlett opened the conference with a funny, motivating speech that was sure to leave his voice hoarse (dude loves to yell) before attendees split out into breakout sessions and panels in adjacent Broadway venues. Standouts included a session on creating brand loyalty by Destin Haynes of Hootsuite, how to disrupt the news media universe by Philippe Collard of Postmedia and an entertaining closing keynote on transmedia storytelling by Steve Peters that had us phoning mimes for clues to unravel a mystery. I left with the ambition to create and a ton of new Twitter followers. Oh, and drink tickets. The afterparties were killer. Big thanks to Startup Saskatoon for handing out more drinks than I could consume.
Locals rule, okay
An Exclaim reviewer said that Thursday’s festival line-up, which featured plenty of local bands, was “limiting.” That’s okay, but we disagree. The local bands of the festival were among some of the most exciting of the entire weekend. In fact, having a ton of local bands paired up with headliners is a good way to introduce Saskatoon audiences to a cadre of musicians that they might not otherwise see. Plus it’s always interesting to see what sort of antics the local bands pull out when they are under the bright lights of a festival. Among some of the many highlights of the weekend: Wizards wearing some bizarre masks while rocking the shit out of a sitar, the dude from The Faps wearing some tiny shorts, We Were Lovers starting a rainy day dance party, Factor and Def3 playing the chug song, and the Phonographique rap collective completely taking over Amigos on Saturday night.
Buds on Broadway
This was the first year that MoSo used Buds on Broadway as a venue. While the club has been known for live music, it’s never really been much of a destination for indie rock. But bringing in Make Liars, The Pistolwhips and Vancouver’s Bend Sinister was actually kind of smart – nothing too outlandish for the regulars and it gave festival-goers somewhere different to hang out at for the evening. And the music was similarly great – Make Liars have developed a strong knack for harmonies and ripping guitar leads, The Pistolwhips have become a stage show juggernaut, and Bend Sinister’s flamboyant pop rock antics completely dazzled the audience.
Food Truck Alley rules
Everyone loves food trucks, right? So pairing up a free stage with some cuisine on wheels was the second brilliant idea of the weekend. Really, is there anything better than watching a sweaty B.A. Johnston rock out while holding a hotdog? And while pissy weather may have dampened Saturday’s line-up, a crowd of looky-loos and festival people still managed to gather to see acts like Jeans Boots, Mitchmatic, We Were Lovers and Tunic rock out. One thing though – why didn’t any of the bands who played during the rain invite the audience to join them under the tent? Cozy dance parties anyone? Even so, I still saw a bunch of people dancing in the rain, and it was still a party.
Speaking of B.A. Johnston…
I’ve probably seen B.A. Johnston play about a dozen times now. And every time I’ve laughed my ass off. Imagine if Don Rickles had grown up in Hamilton, Ontario and wrote acoustic punk songs about Nintendo and roommate romances. Thursday’s performance did not disappoint – B.A., who was wearing something like five sweaters, high kicked, danced, sweated and rocked both on-stage and off. Also, I’m sure Amigos staff loved when he clambered over the bar and poured himself a drink. Bars are cool with that sort of thing, right?
Solids bring the mosh
The last time Montreal’s Solids came through the show was pretty reserved – lots of standing and staring and a little swaying. However, their showcase for MoSo was anything but reserved. Lots of really stoked people crowded the dance floor, along with several crowdsurfers, while the duo delivered fuzzed-out, amped-up anthems for an evening of jumping around. Perfect.
Buffalo Invasion are one of my new favourite bands
One of the best parts of festivals like MoSo is getting to see bands you’ve never heard before. So I was stoked to see some unfamiliar names on this year’s line-up. Buffalo Invasion have played a couple of parties and basements before, but MoSoFest was their official debut. And they might be my new favourite band. Combining anthem guitar riffs with high-energy rhythms, the duo hollered their way through some seriously soaring, grungy gut-rock. Hopefully we’ll all be seeing more of them live in the future.
Creep noise: KEN Mode crush it
While Winnipeg sludge-mongers KEN Mode have been in business for 15 years, their set at MoSo was the first show featuring new bassist Skot Hamilton of Saskatoon. And they completely crushed it. Not that there was any doubt. Filling Rock Bottom with creepy, delirious noise, the trio pummeled their way through a set full of terrifyingly heavy music. Can’t wait to see what kind of new material they come up with together.
Despistado can still bring the dance party
I can still remember the first time Despistado played in Saskatoon. Ryan had booked them for 306Fest at the Cosmo Senior Centre and no one really knew who they were or what they sounded like. This was long before Jade Tree had taken notice but already they had an incredible on-stage chemistry that was urgent and entertaining all at once. Almost a decade later, the Regina group still sounds incredible, with the entire venue dancing and singing along to every word. Please make a new album soon, okay?
We Are The City
Three days of running to various venues during Saskatoon’s MoSo Fest, and my ears have never been happier. Now a mainstay in Saskatoon, I managed to make it to 30 of this year’s almost 80 performances. Vancouver’s We Are The City had one of the tightest sets of the weekend, aided by their incredible video Violent showing as a backdrop.
– Huge thanks to Mike Morien for shooting photos for us and contributing the piece on We Are The City.