Photos by Neil Van
Round two of the Woodstockian joy ride that is Camp Wavelength. The weather as beautiful as ever, crowds have returned to see if Saturday can live up to Fridays sense of bliss and boy, does it deliver.
The day kicks off with Hex, an under-19 girl band with skill well beyond their years. There is a sense of emotion and anger in their punk sound that seems earned despite their young age, a throwback to Courtney Love’s Hole days. Their comfort on stage beckons the growing crowd closer, a mix of sequin dresses and head scarfs all throwing themselves together in the same beat. The band is a fantastic opener, leaving a waiting crowd already at the stage for the next group. One of their own lyrics sums them up best: “I’m not afraid at all.”
Following in this rock-punk lean is Casper Skulls. The tone is a different take, not an explosive anger but the dissatisfaction of someone no longer hoping for better, decidedly more indie rock than punk. The melodies vary from heavy rock to lighter tracks that lean more towards sadness than rage. It’s easy to imagine listening to their music not just live but at home or on the radio and the audience reaction, strong presence remaining at the stage, seems to agree. Casper Skulls, it would seem, is giving Wayhome a sneak peak of their explosive success to come.
After Casper is Spek Won and LAL. Spek Won is truly enjoyable to watch, carrying the air of an established artist and performer. Every lyric is clear and his messages come through beautifully with the beat, the first time in the day the audience begins to let the music into their bodies and move under the summer sun. LAL is a truly striking soul/jazz/hip-hop duo, and singer Rosina Kazi’s voice is an example of natural talent being skilfully expressed. Her effortless melodies calm the audience, appreciated while some remain at the stage and others seek sustenance in the afternoon heat. The Food Dudes quickly run out of grilled cheese, the desire for the crispy, gooey goodness more than their supply can handle. While some opt for a Brickworks cider or shot of Wild Turkey bourbon, others choose the refreshing icees from Little Sea Icees and Wraps, a blend of watermelon, ice and your choice of orange or berry juice: simple and delicious.
Returning to the stage, the satisfied audiences are introduced to Montreal band Moss Lime. The three-piece group is a melancholy pop vehicle that delivers disaffection that threatens to fall into pretension, but never does. The subdued backing vocals and stronger presence from the lead vary little throughout the songs; the greater part of the melody and individuality of each piece comes from the instruments and lyrics rather than variation in vocal tone. They are a quintessential girl band, in good company on this Saturday with Hex, and as the crowd was pulled in by the young band so too are they enchanted by Moss Lime. Sitting on the grass and soaking up the songs, few are prepared for the one-two punch of Odonis Odonis.
It’s impossible not to compare the Odonis Odonis set to that of Operators the night before. Similar to that headliner, Odonis Odonis, themselves not even the headliner of the night, are the first to have the crowd properly enthralled and throwing themselves into full concert mode. They’re a garage rock band who’ve been primed, polished and sent out in full command of their music. They are energetic and emotional with wide appeal, and put on a show that could be a concert in of itself. This pre-headliner headliner is a welcome surprise, a performance many would later cite as their favourite of the night. This is not, however, to disparage the spectacular pop-punk amalgam of the true headliner. Cloud Nothings, another out-of-Canada import (this time from Cleveland), hand the audience emotion. They veer to the darker side of the already dark-edged punk, while also providing more pop-fuelled songs for the less angst-ridden in the audience. They mix classic rock inspiration with deeper, at times less pleasant emotion, but it works. This crowd is open to anything, and Cloud Nothings are something they’re more than happy to receive.
Moving far away from punk, perhaps as far as one can get, lands the audience in front of Nhapitapi, a Zimbabwe ensemble all smiles and dance. They move and laugh, the crowd moves and laughs, the marimba makes itself known and Wavelength is at once immersed in a world of sound. Decidedly different than any other act this weekend, Nhapitapi is a joyful experience shared by listeners and creators, spurring two of the singers to an effortless dance routine that has everyone in attendance hooting and cheering them on. No one is sad once it comes to an end, simply happy for having had the opportunity to experience it.
Scott Hardware and Petra Glynt bring it back to the independent electronic music pervasive at the festival. Hardware offers a polished electro-vocal mix that lets listeners close their eyes and sway in the subtle Wavelength lights while Glynt serves up a more challenging, deeper side, less pop and more hand drumming and darkness. Both these acts feed into the final breath of the Saturday, Guerilla Toss. The Boston group is pop rock that remains danceable while experimenting, angry but moving, a strong showing that has the crowd dancing until the last lights turn off on day two of camp.