Written by Claudia Idzik | photos by Mido Melebari
Each January, the Hillside Festival offers a taste of their summer festivities with a set of multi-venue shows around Guelph, called Hillside Inside. This year’s Hillside Inside featured headliners Basia Bulat, The Strumbellas, and Ukrainian quartet DakhaBrahka, along with events such as Girls with Guitars, film screenings, and a showcase of youth artists. Basia Bulat and Casey Mecija took Mitchell Hall this past Friday, Jan. 29, 2016 to open the first headlining Hillside Inside show.
Casey Mecija opened up the show, creating an ambient atmosphere within Mitchell Hall. Backed by four other musicians, she sang soulful tracks with vocal melodies. The hall was filled with silence as she sang. Vish Khanna hosted the night, stating that this was the first solo show Casey Mecija performed live.
Basia Bulat jumped on the stage after Casey Mecija. Hailing from Toronto, she brought her emotionally resonant vocals to the stage. Opening up with one of her newest singles, “Fool,” she and her backing band brought a vibrant energy to the stage. Her vocals wrung throughout the venue as she sang through several tracks from her previous albums, Tall Tall Shadow and Heart of My Own. Her band left the stage for three songs, where she performed solo. The crowd was prompted into silence as she played her slow folk songs. Towards the end of the set, Basia performed “Tall Tall Shadow,” undoubtedly one of the more popular songs with the crowd. Everyone broke into sway and sang along to the hearty chorus. During her final song, she jumped into the crowd with the mic and danced with fans.
Basia Bulat created an inviting and personal environment in the venue. With an endearing openness, she occasionally asked for song requests, allowing the crowd to connect with the artist. Jumping between playing an autoharp, guitar, and ukulele, Basia did not miss the chance to show off her incredible musical talent.
“I’m so incredibly lucky to play in a bad-ass place like this,” she said.