This year marked the 42nd annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival, though sadly I was only able to make it for one evening this year. But on the positive side, that evening had the two acts I most wanted to see playing back-to-back!
I arrived Saturday evening and walked the grounds a bit (sad that the stand I get a frozen banana from each year seemed to be missing this time around) before heading to the main stage for Basia Bulat. With flower-adorned mic stands, Basia and her backing band -- which included Vancouver's own Colin Cowan -- started off the set with "La La Lie", the lead off track for her most recent album, Good Advice.
From there, she weaved through a set of folky, chamber-pop songs, jumping from keys to her acoustic guitar. Songs ranged from the soaring "Tall Tall Shadow" to the darker and sombre "Someday Soon", with Bulat a ball of energy on stage, even dancing and twirling around when not on mic.
Aside from her own music, she slipped in a couple covers from Canadian legends, "Moonshot" by Buffy Sainte-Marie, as well as Joni Mitchell's "People's Parties". Other highlights included one of my favourites, the amazing intensity of "Infamous", and "Fool", which ended the set as a beautiful spotlight for her incredible voice as the sun set.
Not long after, Canadian Tuxedos filled the stage as Sam Roberts Band made their entrance. I don't know if it was their "festival set", but they started off hot with "Detroit '67" and from there just played a steady stream of hit after hit, giving a good reminder of both the longevity and musical depth of Sam Roberts.
Classics like "Where Have All The Good People Gone?" and "Hard Road" had the crowd joining in on the chorus, while everyone -- including the usually-seated middle section -- danced to ragers "Fixed To Ruin" and "Them Kids".
After a solid hour, they played right up to the 11pm curfew, capping off the night with the breakthrough hit "Brother Down", turning another giant singalong, which even ended with Sam jumping off the stage and into the photo pit to mingle with the crowd while the band jammed out (I think even slipping in other songs, as I'm positive I heard a bit of "Wicked Game" in there). It was the perfect ending not only to the set, but to the evening of the folk festival.
It's been a few years since I last saw Sam Roberts Band play live, and it was a great reminder why they should, if not already, be considered Canadian Rock Royalty.
Basia Bulat setlist
La La Lie
Heart of My Own
Moonshot [Buffy Sainte-Marie cover]
In The Name Of
People's Parties [Joni Mitchell cover]
Tall Tall Shadow
Sam Roberts Band setlist
Fixed to Ruin
Where Have All The Good People Gone?
If You Want It
Climb Over Me