This past Valentine’s weekend (12-14 February) was the annual Wavelength Music Festival. Taking place over three days with eighteen acts in three locations, Wavelength again demonstrates that they are a major festival force with which to be reckoned.
Day One was Friday night at The Garrison (1197 Dundas Street West). It began with Organ Mood, a synth and psych band with driving electronic music and a visual performance component, including live drawing. This performance style necessitated having their keyboards, rig and projectors set up in the middle of the floor with a screen covering the stage. This screen was for the projections and the placement of their rig was for projecting but also for audience participation. They began their set by the most innovative means I have ever seen; using a special microphone they took the heartbeat of an audience member and used it as the rhythm track for their first song.
From there the band quickly proved that that wasn’t their only trick, as I was chosen to play a home-made instrument, constructed from plastic and a piece of wood and played with the violin bow. While I am a musician and gearhead, I have no idea what this creature was. But with me creating a few notes with the mysterious instrument Organ Mood created music with and around those notes, demonstrating the creativity of the band. For their closing song the band handed out maracas so that the audience could play percussion for them. Organ Mood deftly created a personal performance with a personal connection for each audience member and I had no idea that forty-five minutes had passed. These two guys are extremely innovative and should be way more pretentious than they are (they seemed like very nice guys). So for their first act Wavelength knocked it out of the park, so much so that Organ Mood was my pick of the day.
Blunt Chunks, a late addition to the lineup, was next. At first I thought that she was just a very talented folk singer, with a beautiful voice, some reverb and a guitar, but she quickly proved that she was more than just that. The intermittent performance spiraled into a psychedelic freak out fuelled by looping tape delay and electronic wizardry. With the otherworldly vocals, simple melodies and psychedelic trips Blunt Chunks left quite an impression.
She was followed by the first emcee of the festival, Keita Juma, who quickly had the crowd clapping and dancing along. Serving as a palate cleanser of sorts, he demonstrated smart lyrics driven by a keen sense of cadence and rhythm. Be sure to check out his song ‘Fire’.
Calvin Love was next. Clad in a white jacket and skinny jeans and with his punk-surf-classic rock ‘n’ roll, Mr. Love gave the crowd a great taste of showmanship and lead guitar playing. He kept his energy up as he strutted around the stage without ever missing a beat or a note.
The headliner for Friday was Foxtrott, from Montréal. With boned-rattling percussion, overpowering bass and a French horn (you read that right) it was clear that Foxtrott possessed undeniable talent, so much so that they deserved to be the headliner on a bill already full of talent. Foxtrott sounds a little like The Knife with the bass turned way, way up. The musician’s eyes were often closed as they were last in the music, as was the audience.
All in all, Wavelength ’16 Day One was a tribute to the curated lineup and it’s left me wanting more.