Volume 92, Issue 7

Tuesday, September 15, 1998

here we go


Hot alt-rockers make summer festival cutting edge

Clare Elias/Gazette
HEY YOU! YOU'RE IN MY SUN. Sloan's Chris Murphy joined the best Canada Day Party of the country by rocking the Edgefest '98 stage this summer in Barrie.

Clare Elias/Gazette
THE KILLJOYS JOIN THE CAST OF HAWAII FIVE-O. Or dress for one scorcher of a July 1st as they grace the Edgefest side stage.

By Clare Elias and Christina Vardanis
Gazette Staff

A devoted crowd packed themselves into Molson Park in Barrie July 1 to worship such Canuck talent as The Tea Party, Moist and Sloan, as well to bang and surf to international superstars Foo Fighters and Green Day. Not a bad way to spend a Canada Day, eh?

After seven years of promotion, Edgefest has finally surpassed Lollapalooza as the multi-band concert event of the summer, offering up an array of Canadian superstars and American bands who blew away the stage harder than any fourth of July extravaganza. Whether you laid back on the hill and caught some rays or threw yourself into the bone-crushing, widespread mosh pit, this event offered 12 hours of honest, hard-edged rock, minus the flash and glam.

The mainstage kicked off with Bif Naked, who wailed and pounced like a tiger on acid throughout her performance. Dressed in a "GI. Jane" tank-top and black velvet stretch-pants, she drop-kicked her way through the set, which consisted mostly of songs from her new album. The highlight came before she broke into her summer hit "Spaceman" and she reached to the sky, imagining a UFO had come to take her away.

"Wouldn't that be cool!" she professed to the crowd. Although her set definitely played to the younger edge of the audience, she hit the older devotees when she reached back to the days of "Daddy's Gettin' Married," creating a crowd pulsing in the affirmation that Bif is one cool cat.

The Canadian performances continued with the harder-edged propulsions of Econoline Crush, whose scattered performance was mediocre compared to the other bands. The light-weight, skater grooves of Sloan were executed with anthem rock enthusiasm, yet they still managed to pull off their trademark laid-back style. Performing everything from "Underwhelmed" to "People of the Sky" to "Money City Maniacs," their confidence in such a large venue was undermined only by vocalist Chris Murphy's own opinion.

"Stick around," he said at the end of their set, "there are lots of good bands coming up that know how to play a crowd this big a lot better than we do."

The second stage kicked off by mid-afternoon with the East Coast ensemble Sandbox. The rest of the day on this smaller-scaled-venue was evened out by fellow Canadian pop-rock artists such as The Killjoys, who pelted the teenage-angst mosh-pop tune "Today I Hate Everyone." Canadian bands from the East to West Coasts filled the stage, each performing a twenty minute set. Winnipeg's Watchmen devoted much of their allotted time to their latest material, while the Inbreds played a great show, which unfortunately proved to be one of their last.

The American invasion hit when the Foo Fighters' David Grohl worked the sunstroked crowd into frenzy with a "best of" set that rocked from start to finish. In classic Grohl style, his guitar seemed to take over and Grohl became a slave to his own music. One enchanted fan offered a giant stuffed dog to the band, only to have it decapitated by Grohl and sent back out to the crowd, showering them with stuffings.

The wildest moment came when the "no punk will never be dead as long as we're around" Green Day glazed the stage. The infamous Billy Joe Armstrong, with the charisma and chaos of Billy the Kid, swaggled and strided across the sun-drenched stage in full patriotism, draped in the Canadian flag. He then offered up part of the stage to one of his fellow worshippers to play with the trio. The faux-green haired "Riff," from right here in sunny London, surfed his way to the front to play a few riffs of his own on Billy's guitar, then catapulted himself into the crowd, ending his three minutes of fame with the most enthusiastic stage dive to date. A little fire, one less drum set and Green Day signed off.

The fake tattoos of the maple leaf, bought from the Edgefest village, were plastered across fans. They sported them proudly as Moist and The Tea Party played solid sets and managed to sustain the crowd's attention after Green Day's manic display of punk.

The alt-rock/punk vibes were crystallized throughout this bright Canada Day and absorbed by a devoted mob, proving Canadians know how to rock harder than any KISS/Slayer groupie out there.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998