Photos by Ray Williams
In the parking lot of the Woodbine Racetrack a large stage was set up for a night of good old Canadian music. There you could find Toronto’s finest all dressed to the nines ready do enjoy some music after a long day of horse racing at the Queen’s Plate. That evening those who gathered would under go a sort of Canadian rite of passage by watching three of Canada’s own musicians the Strumbellas, the Matthew Good Band, and Hedley.
At 6:30 the show was kicked off by the Strumbellas. The Toronto based folk-rock group brought more than enough energy to the stage and I must add that the crowd absolutely adored them. Everywhere you turned people were clapping, dancing, and singing along to every single song. They possessed a true rustic folk sound and it is no surprise that this extremely talented group is gaining huge popularity and getting quite a bit of radio play with their single “Spirits”.
Next to take the stage was the legendary Canadian rock icon, Matthew Good. They were true pioneer in the way of alternative rock and with their performance they managed to pull at the heart strings of any Canadian rock fan. Through the set you could both see and feel the way that the music was affecting the entire crowd. As expected the music was delivered in a raw and emotional way and the band carried themselves in the manner of a weathered band who had been around the block a few times.
Throughout the evening the crowd continued to multiply in size as fans waited for the main act Hedley to arrive. Finally after a long wait the boys took to the stage and were engulfed in the screams of eager teenage fans. They kicked off their set with their most recent hit “Hello” and through the evening they played a mix of old and new songs. They possessed a great energy on the stage and it was reflected through the fans as they danced and sang along in the easy way that comes with pop shows. The lead singer Jacob Hoggard was extremely interactive with the crowd and even grabbed a fans phone and called her mother. He basically performed a full on comedy act filled with vulgar jokes that had the crowd in hysterical laughter. Yet when it came to the actual music something seemed to be missing. As far as vocals and instrumentals they were exactly what you expect from a pop band who just may be past their prime. Although it seems they have tried to evolve with the industry by overlaying synth on top of Jacobs voice but it just felt insincere. It was obvious during the show how the music industry has left Hedley behind as the only songs that drew reactions from the crowd were 5-10 year old hits.
Yet overall the evening had something to offer for everyone from the young indie fan, to a teens first concert and even the parent they dragged along with them. Considering this is the first year that live music has ever been played at the Queens Plate it hit all of the right bases and it will be interesting to see what will happen in years to come.