The NXNE festival, this year, took place during a hot week in June, which culminated with the 2-day, Port Lands festival. The festival, which took place in the port area surrounding the Sound Academy, had two stages for fans to take in artists, as well as a few different elements to interact with. While the shade was limited, the cool vibes were enough to keep the people going on one of the hottest days of the year so far. With the Devin Cuddy Band, Land of Talk, and HIGHS to warm things up, NXNE Port Lands was ready to kick it up a notch.
Vancouver-singer/songwriter, Dan Mangan, took the big stage. For a soft-spoken, unassuming man, Dan Mangan can really perform. With the surprise release of his EP, Unmake, on Friday, June 17th, Dan Mangan pleased the crowd with a sample of his new work, “Race to the Bottom”, as well as busting out some old favourites, such as “Vessels”, “Basket”, and “Sold”. A proud-Canadian, Mangan paid tribute to the ailing lead singer of The Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, with a cover of “At the Hundredth Meridian”. His smooth voice, which carries a slight rasp, hovers between a whisper and a growl. This fine balance allows for Mangan to have full control over the crowd, with the fans holding onto his every word. Make sure you check him out the next time Dan Mangan pulls through.
Fans moved to the other end of the Port Lands’ grounds to take in another Vancouver-based band, indie-rock artists, The Zolas. Right from the first note, The Zolas were here to pick the crowd’s energy back up off the floor, and get the people moving. Hot off of last summer’s single, “Molotov Girls”, and their latest track, “Swooner”, The Zolas were ready to prove to the crowd that they are the real deal. They even got the crowd involved on the set list, when they put it to the crowd as to which of their older songs they wanted to hear, with “Escape Artists” taking the cake. Although they are relatively new to the scene, The Zolas are already a seasoned band, ready to take it to the next level.
To keep up the west coast vibes, Mother Mother took the big stage at NXNE Port Lands to thunderous applause. It was clear that a lot of their fans had made it out to see the Vancouver-natives’ dreamlike performance. Busting out fan favourites, such as “Monkey Tree” and “Let’s Fall in Love”, the band also teased the crowd with a new song, “Free”, off of their upcoming album. Lead singer, Ryan Guldemond, announced to the crowd that the new album is, “almost finished”, and fans should be expecting to hear about it soon. Just after their announcement, the band tore into a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom”, off of Nevermind, which made the perfect transition into their song, “Hay Loft”. They also offered up to the crowd a stripped down version of “The Stand”, and then kicked it up a notch as it hit the chorus. Mother Mother was able to bring the crowd’s energy to an all new high, just as the sun began to set.
Father John Misty
After a set by Born Ruffians, on the mini-stage, the headlining act of Father John Misty was ready to take the crowd on an emotional rollercoaster. The former-Fleet Foxes drummer has headed out on his own, and brought his unique sound to the NXNE Port Lands festival. The sun had finally gone down, creating the perfect setting for Father John Misty’s Father John released his second album, 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear, last February, and projected him into indie-notoriety . With the frame of a scarecrow, Father John Misty floats across the stage with ease and confidence; to say that his performance-style is eccentric is just the tip of the iceberg. You can hear the conviction in his voice, on songs such as “Everyman Needs a Companion” and “Only Son of a Ladiesman”, while his comedic wit stands out on songs like, “Holy Sh*t”, “Now I’m Learning to Love the War”, and “Bored in the U.S.A.”. Father John, real name J Tillmann, is known for his all-out performance style, and can only be seen to fully realize the power of his performance. After a full day, filled from end-to-end with some incredible music, Father John Misty was the perfect closer to put the whole experience into perspective.
With a weekend full of events, those fortunate enough to be at the NXNE Port Lands festival will be sure to be gushing to their friends about all of the cool music that they got to check out. While Port Lands is new to NXNE, it is a welcome addition to the lineup of events, and will hopefully make a triumphant return in 2017!