Day Two of the Constellation Festival went off with mostly clear skies, and not the rain that was threatened by the forecast (to at least one pale person's chagrin), with an eclectic mix of music throughout the day.
A crowd gathered early in the day for Fred Penner, with a collection of all ages; kids as well as adults with a nostalgia for the classic children's entertainer. And Fred clearly knows his audience, slipping a Monty Python reference in to one of his songs.
Penner had the kids (and, let's face it, most of the adults) singing and miming along to songs about celebrating differences and just generally being a good person. He was also joined by a few special guests for "Sandwiches", festival director and general all-around superhero Tamara Stanners, as well as Badgerchild and Valor Grey for backup vocals. Valor Grey also then performed her song "Phoenix" with the ensemble, before Fred ended his set with the perennial favourite "The Cat Came Back". And in yet another nod to his varied fanbase, he slipped in a medley of songs from Ray Charles, The Turtles, and even k-os.
Next on the Creative BC stage was Sam Lynch and her band, including Stephanie Chatman on violin. Sam’s voice lilted throughout the festival grounds carrying her soft, singer/songwriter sound. Her set started soft, and slowly built in intensity, with songs like "Off The Rails" growing to a heartfelt finish.
Next over on the main stage was one of the the wildest turns they could get to follow Fred Penner: Art d'Ecco.
Adorned in a grey jumpsuit and gold boots, Art d'Ecco started off with "Never Tell", bringing the energy up with their glam rock. I had, for some reason, not had a chance to check them out up until now and was kicking myself for waiting this long, won over by songs like the haunting "Nobody's Home". There was an effortless presence, both singing, bantering and joking with the crowd between songs, and I am definitely
going to make sure to check out more from them in the future.
I caught most of The Sunset Kids while taking advantage of the food cart area. Their synth rock and split vocals drove big, grandiose songs like "Brave" and their upcoming single, which I think was called "Volcano" and sounded like it could be a huge radio hit. Though I have to take issue with the fact that they were playing at 5pm with the sun bright in the sky.
Jocelyn Alice was up next on the main stage. With an incredible voice propping up her soulful, poppy songs, she amassed a growing crowd of people. Some clearly already fans and, from the response, more than a few new ones as well. Songs ranged from the sultry "Jackpot" to the absolutely heartbreaking piano-driven song called "You're The Worst", before ending with a little Hustler-themed mashup of Beyonce and Jay-Z.
Next over at the side stage was Foxwarren, the latest project from Andy Shauf. Their chill, downtempo indie rock was highlighted by songs like the infectious "Everything Apart", but I think the timing of the set was a bit of a detriment to the band. Playing smack dab in the middle of the day, I feel like their moody vibes would be better suited to a dark and smoky venue at night, rather than in direct, intense sunlight. Especially when the last song of their set ended with an extended jam. I didn't dislike the set by any means, but I definitely would have appreciated it a lot more in a different setting.
Luckily Peach Pit was next on stage to get the energy back up. Dressed in various pastel and primary colours, they kicked off with their single "Being So Normal", hair swinging wildly as they played.
They kept the energy up throughout the set, with a smattering of new songs like "Psychics in LA", telling the story behind the song about an actual psychic in LA who didn't have a great reading for singer Neil Smith's friend's cat. They also played “old” favourites like "Drop The Guillotine", and finished off with a rousing cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl"
Back to the side stage was Shad, no stranger to playing Squamish festival(s). He started off with "The Fool pt. 1 (Get it Got it Good)" as his unmatched charisma drove the set full of hits and favourites, like the rapid-fire "Stylin'", which ended with a powerful freestyle, and recent single "Magic".
Other highlights included the best song ever written about saving money, "The Old Prince Still Lives At Home"; and "Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)" a song that is (sadly) as relevant, if not more, today than it was when it first came out 6 years ago. I haven’t seen Shad play in a few years, it feels like, so it was definitely a treat, and one of the highlights of the festival so far.
A Tribe Called Red then hit the main stage, with some unfortunate news to start the set, saying that one of the performers that was supposed to share the stage with them was profiled by the RCMP, and removed from the festival earlier that day. But they were not going to let that stop them as they started off with "We Are the Halluci Nation", the soul-thumping-bass pounding throughout the grounds.
Admittedly, I am not that into dance-electronica music (Christine was having a great time), but I can absolutely recognize how good they are at what they do, as the growing mass of people (and Christine) dancing proved. In addition to their music, they also put on a very engaging live show, with the various dancers and performers they have on stage, many in traditional or ceremonial garb.
Much like the previous day, I wasn't sure how anyone was going to follow that, when the attention turned to the final act of the night on the side-stage, multi-instrumentalist Cosmo Mandrake. He had a really cool and chill electronica sound, that didn't nearly match the energy of ATCR, but was more of a calm break between two storms. Throughout the set he was joined by a few people, local singer Andrea Vargas for the song "Rich" (who was on the recording, but they had never got to play live together), and then during the final song, he was joined by some backup dancers in large sunflower outfits.
And finally, closing out the night was Jessie Reyez, her first live show in a couple months, since as she put it “fucking her back up”. I did end up taking off early for the evening, but caught the first few songs of her brash and unapologetic hip hop, as she had the crowd in the palm of her hand, dancing, jumping (much to her management’s chagrin), and even raising middle fingers at her command.
Which brings us to the third and final day of the fest, which will feature Bahamas, Begonia, Half Moon Run, Wintersleep, and loads more. And again, keep an eye out for Christine's daily photo recaps (including ones from Day 2 - click here)!