It came and went like the party you’ll never forget because it was 5 damn days long, so how could you? Pat Yourselves on the Back, Lawnya Vawnya. If six is young for a festival, you’re the coolest kid (festival) this side of Canada.
Chad Pelley: The Five Festival Highlights
Fake Palms at Inn of Olde
This performance was part of the Quidi Vidi Music crawl, meant to sample some bands before their big show. Fake Palms’ drummer stole the show; she pulled off this outrageous, wild drum solo, that cracked not one but two sticks, and she just kept going, never missed a beat, kept grabbing new sticks to crack. They say a small crowd and intimate short set is best for quiet music, but sometimes it takes seeing a show up close and personal to get it, and that applies to rock shows. The guitarists, for example, spend most of their time below the 12th fret – who does that? These guys do, and now spectators know why their songs are sound so different.
Long Night with Vish Khanna
A Letterman-esque talk show where you get to hear a little about a lot of things, including seeing the all-female Aboriginal act Eastern Owl do their thing, and who knew Dan Meades of Third Place Tonic would have some of the most sensible things to say about the budget? We covered everything from Elling Lien’s bird bar (Junco’s Pub), to the drummer from Braids educating us on birds (how Eastern Starlings got here), and we were even told when to clap. It was easy, breezy, unpredictable fun. Why isn’t there a talk show in town?
CATL pop-up show at The Black Sheep
THAT’S what I am talking about. Two musicians so goddman genuine they don’t need a full band to sound 100% full, thick, catchy, and killer. People from all demographics were walking in from the street, curious about and impressed by what they were hearing blaring at noon on a Saturday. Granted, some left plugging their ears from the amp-on-10 rock’n’blues’country jams filling the room like a tidal wave.
Psychic Fair & Partner at The Ship
Partner lived up to the hype with quick and catchy pop-rock songs as funny as they were dancy. They write songs so short you can’t get bored of them, and they perform them with contagious gusto. Anyone there Saturday night would come back for more if they visit the island again. People were pushing tables out of the way to dance more recklessly.
And Psychic Fair – what a pedigree. There’s folks in there from Superfriends and Thrush Hermit, the two Atlantic pioneers of Maritime indie rock. Story goes Mike O’Neill from The Inbreds was supposed to front them, and instead, the guy from Nap Eyes did. This supergroup was super. They were the surprise show of the festival for many; the guitarist and singer were throwing a friggen guitar back and forth onstage to take turns wailing away on.
Shotgun Jimmie / Jennifer Castle
Shotgun Jimmie is the best, but then, I already knew that and so did the fist-pumping enthusiasts still going strong and hardily, 5 days deep. Also: no one’s gonna forget how Jennifer Castle’s singing makes your bones ring like you’re being reconnected to the world, and the primal freaking animal you are. She doesn’t just perform, she channels something and casts a spell on you with it. I don’t even know if I love her music, I just know it’s powerful, and amazing in a way you can better appreciate after seeing it go down live. Stellar guitar too.
Shout out to that after-party soup too.
Lukas Wall: “Open and Shut: The Opening and Closing of Lawnya Vawnya”
Perhaps more than any other music festival I’ve even been to, Lawnya Vawnya just feels like a good house party with a bunch of friends.
Like any good host having visitors in to your home, it’s only right to properly welcome them in and send them off – and that’s exactly what Lawnya Vawnya did. With Wednesday night’s opening party and Sunday’s closing show, the festival was bookended with intimate and fun performances that featured a range of local favourites and visiting acts.
The Wednesday night opening party at The Republic (a much under utilized venue, by the way) kicked off Lawnya Vawnya, starting with the dreamy strains of Mary Dear. The addition of a full rocking rhythm section turned up the volume and added more weight to the duo’s airy sound. Cafeteria’s wild performance both confused and entertained with equal parts electronic music and sweaty party-punk rock, while returning favourites Derm Kean and an Incredible Woman made for a loud and heavy closer.
Sunday night’s party held more of the same, albeit it was a slightly more tired and hungover one. Pilot to Bombardier’s spacious folk-rock started things off things before Sharon Bala read to a remarkably silent audience at The Ship. That room has never been so quiet with such a crowd, with only a warm breeze carrying in the chatter of people smoking cigarettes outside, before jangly up-and-coming rockers Sleepy took the stage. The local band to watch right now, Sleepy delivered a gritty set led by the group’s two-pronged guitar attack and driving rhythm section. Finally, Shotgun Jimmie closed out the events with a fun duo set, featuring LV legend Jon McKiel on drums.
Not to take anything away from the other shows during the rest of the weekend, of course (Braids were a damn near spiritual experience), but these opening and closing parties were what made the festival. The energy and buzz of these two shows made for a great vibe that welcomed locals and come-from-aways alike on Wednesday and sent them off in to the warm May night on Sunday.
That welcoming ‘let’s party’ feeling and real energy is what Lawnya Vawnya is all about, and it’s a special feeling that ought to continue at the music venues in this city all summer long.