Arts & Culture City Features In Focus

GroundSwell Festival: Night Two

A necessary change in venue shifted things to Olympic Hall last night. Now, as you may be aware, I tend to stay sober when covering music festivals. However, as yesterday was no ordinary day, and I knew The Stanfields were performing, I indulged in a few pints of either Nova Scotia or Ireland’s finest over the course of the evening.

Royal Volts. (Photo: John Sandham)
Royal Volts. (Photo: John Sandham)

The Royal Volts
 I showed up a touch late to their set, meaning I didn’t get a real good read on them. I liked the songs I heard, considering they play good, solid rock and roll music. Hailing from just across the harbour in Dartmouth, they had people dancing and crowd surfing even though they were openers. How much of that had to do with what day it was, I’m not sure. Either way, these guys were a solid lead into the rest of the night’s performances.

Dave Casey of Like a Motorcycle. (Photo: John Sandham)
Dave Casey of Like a Motorcycle. (Photo: John Sandham)

Like A Motorcycle 
Now this is what I’m talking about. This four piece punk band almost took the roof off the place. They’re full body performers, meaning there’s a lot of kneeling, head butting and guitar/bass battles that take place on stage. Beers were downed in the middle of songs. It was chaotic, and it was beautiful.
I always think it’s cool when a drummer is a band’s lead vocalist. It’s rare, but some of the best drummers of all time have also been killer vocalists. Take Phil Collins or Dave Grohl as examples. So kudos to Michelle Skelding, who kept a steady rhythm, and whose voice I really dig. I’m not usually one for unclean vocals, but kt lamond’s blended super well with the overall sound of the band. This was one energetic performance, capped off by the ceremonial passing around of the “whiskey gun” (skip ahead to 2:28 for a visual).

The Stanfields
There’s something about the music of The Stanfields that just makes you want to… rage. It’s the kind of music you need to crank up to max volume while you shotgun a beer and have a bucket of ice water dumped on your head.
Now, I thought I was prepared for this. I had a few pints over the course of the evening, but alas, those weren’t nearly enough.
“This is St. Patrick’s Day, Motherfuckers!” shouted lead vocalist Jon Landry, after their first song. This was no ordinary set. The crowd fed off their energy right from the start and really got going a few songs in. This was St. Paddy’s Day, and The Stanfields were a perfect way to cap off the day’s festivities.

The crowd during the Stanfields' set. (Photo: John Sandham)
The crowd during The Stanfields’ set. (Photo: John Sandham)

The Crowd
I’d be remiss at this point if I didn’t mention the crowd. Now, just about everyone knows what goes down in Halifax on St. Paddy’s (if you don’t, you’re probably too young to be reading this). So needless to say, most people were already a little wild right from the get go.
Eventually, during The Stanfields’ set, the scene on the floor turned into something that looked a little bit like this:

Remember how I said earlier in this review I hadn’t had enough pints to truly appreciate what was going on during The Stanfields’ set? I hope you now have a clearer understanding of what I meant by that.
I think the countless “Fuck You, I’m Scottish” Stanfields shirts in the audience last night sums the evening up pretty accurately. It will go down as one of the most interesting and unique nights of a festival I’ve ever been to.

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