GroundSwell Festival: Night Three

The crowd at Olympic Hall had mellowed out significantly since Friday night. I mean, there’s no better way to cure a St. Paddy’s day hangover than with loud music, right?

Rachel Sunter of Arsoniste. (Photo: John Sandham)

Rachel Sunter of Arsoniste. (Photo: John Sandham)

Arsoniste:

The minute I heard Rachel Sunter, I could tell last night would be… slightly different… than Friday. Arsoniste’s bright, almost ethereal brand of pop-rock was the perfect way to open the evening and ease the crowd into the rest of the acts. My favourite was a track called “Waterfall.” Not only is Sunter a solid singer, she’s also an extraordinarily good keyboardist. And thank goodness she mentioned the giant disco ball hanging over the middle of the floor, because it was certainly the elephant in the room and I was starting to think nobody would acknowledge its presence. A sidenote: Patrick Murphy was rocking a sharp red blazer on the drums, and it made me realize I need one of those.

In-Flight Safety on stage. (Photo: John Sandham)

In-Flight Safety on stage. (Photo: John Sandham)

In-Flight Safety

I don’t hesitate to say these guys were my favourite act of the whole festival. Their brand of smooth, easy listening rock put me in a serious trance. No, really – I usually take photos during the whole set but ended up standing in one spot on the balcony and simply taking everything in for the majority of their act. There’s no bullshit or gimmicks with their music or presence on stage. They play good music, and they do it well. I especially enjoyed “Fight Night” and “Big White Elephant,” the latter of which was featured on the American version of The Office.

Ria Mae. (Photo: John Sandham)

Ria Mae. (Photo: John Sandham)

Ria Mae

After seeing her perform, I seriously just want to grab a beer with Ria. Considering the amount of diehard fans near the front of the stage during her set, I don’t think I’m alone in that pursuit. She seems so approachable and down to earth.

Ria is such a strong vocalist that she doesn’t need much accompaniment. On some songs, she sung over just keyboards – and it worked perfectly. Those stripped-down numbers were my favourites, although I enjoyed nearly all the songs she played. “Thoughts on Fire” and “Ooh Love” were also excellent numbers. What a way to cap off the night.

(Photo: John Sandham)

(Photo: John Sandham)

I can’t praise the structure and organization of this festival nearly enough. The different acts each night were expertly picked and paired up, and the venues were an interesting deviation from Halifax mainstays.

I always feel incredibly lucky when I get to cover festivals like this. As always, thanks to all the organizers, volunteers and artists who made this event possible.