Hillside 2017: Reviewing various music acts  

Hillside 2017: Reviewing various music acts  

Guelph saw, Guelph heard, Guelph danced

The weekend at Hillside by Mirali Almaula

Hillside, Guelph’s summer music festival, took place at Guelph Lake Conservation Area from July 14 to 16. The weekend at Hillside presented so much to do, see, and hear that it was difficult to know where to begin for a Hillside first-timer.

Still, there were a few acts that stood out from the rest when it came to stage presence, audience response, and having that certain something that makes a performance memorable long after the vibration of the bassline and drumbeat fade from your body.

On Friday night, though things were at full throttle, there was an especially captivating performance by Begonia.

On Saturday, DJ Shub had the crowd dancing like something out of a movie while Coeur de pirate closed the Main Stage leaving the world seeming just a little more beautiful.

Karen K. Tran

On Sunday evening, the Main Stage was lit up by Xavier Rudd who was larger than life, but shared a grounded message of peace and good vibrations that spread through your body like a tonic.  

Saturday at Hillside by Claudia Idzik

The Barr Brothers

Claudia Idzik

Hailing from Montreal, Barr Brothers is a folk band unlike any other. The combination of a harp, an organ, and pedal steel instrumentation made for a truly soulful set. Playing to a hearty crowd, everyone was attentive as the band played old favourites and new singles from their recent albums.

Together, the band flowed from bluesy slow songs to folk pop songs, effortlessly captivating the crowd.

The transitions felt natural as the band tried out new songs to play. With a new live band member in tow, the band has held off playing shows this year — Hillside being one of few festivals on their tour this summer. Barr Brothers did not go unrecognized this weekend.

Century Egg

Claudia Idzik

Century Egg gave a live show one does not get to experience often. With the lead singer from China, and bandmates hailing from Halifax, the band creates a multicultural indie-pop experience for festival attendees.

The vocalist performed songs in both Mandarin and English.

Despite the unfamiliarity of language, the crowd reflected the energy from the anthemic chord progressions in their dance moves. The main band member of the set was the bassist, who took advantage of the entire stage from start to finish. His energy burst across the entire set, and he fed off the tenacious energy of the crowd.


Claudia Idzik

Every now and then, Guelph is graced with a Weaves show. Whether playing tiny bars or local festivals, Guelph is not an unfamiliar city to them. However, the Saturday of Hillside show stood out from any other Guelph show they have played. Vocalist Jasmyn Burke creates an atmosphere in the venue like no other vocalist manages to do.

Her eclectic personality creates an unusual comfort within the crowd.

Paired with the high energy of her bandmates, it’s no wonder this was one of the highest-energy sets the festival saw this weekend. From the first song, security was crushed by the weight of the crowd dancing to the explosive noise rock that embodies the band’s tracks. Everyone from the front to the back of the tent felt the overpowering artistic sound that is Weaves.

Sunday at Hillside by Mariah Bridgeman


Photos by Mariah Bridgeman

Local talent NEFE performed on the Main Stage at Hillside, the only stage without a tent, just as the rain started coming down on Sunday.

Nevertheless NEFE had people crowding around the stage after hearing her soulful voice echo through the trees.

To those of us who had never heard NEFE perform before, it was a sweet and powerful surprise much like her voice. The soul in her music along with the story she told before each song really created a strong connection in the crowd.

NEFE got her stage name from Nefertiti, an Egyptian queen, and like a queen she ruled the stage. She ended her set by expressing the importance of being true to yourself and not following societal norms.

Kacy & Clayton

Mariah Bridgeman | The Ontarion

Kacy & Clayton, cousins from a small community in southern Saskatchewan, performed on Island Stage. The duo has a very unique style of folk/rock that creates an old-soul vibe.

Most of their songs seemed to tell folk stories, mainly about people’s day-to-day lives in their hometown of Wood Mountain Uplands.

The performance appeared to leave the audience laying on their lawn blankets feeling good as the psychedelic and classic sound soothed.

Rae Spoon

Photos by Mariah Bridgeman

Rae Spoon performed on Island Stage later that evening, bringing life back into the crowd. Born in Alberta, Spoon’s style includes folk, indie rock, and electronic music. They started the show with such a cool vibe, engaging the audience in their music.

Getting the audience to sing along with them as they sang “do whatever the heck you want,” a song that talks about being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Following their performance you couldn’t help having some of the catchy lyrics stuck in your head.

Various photos by Karen K. Tran

The key to having a “happy hillside” for many festival-goers was to give a listen to new music. Many of the performers were up-and-coming artists who had yet to debut their first album, but attendees were enthused to get a chance to discover musicians like Charlotte Day Wilson, Klô Pelgag, Mt. Joy, and Ora Cogan, as well as the opportunity to see more prolific acts like Sarah Harmer and Coeur de pirate perform in an acoustic setting.

If you missed Hillside and your chance to win passes with The Ontarion, don’t worry! We’ll have another giveaway for Hillside Inside, this festival is scheduled to take place from February 9 to 11, 2018. 

Feature photo by Karen K. Tran.