Concert Reviews

Ween, Barenaked Ladies, The Sheepdogs, The Sadies at TURF – Day 2

Photos by Katrina Lat

TURF got off to a wet start on Saturday afternoon. A very wet, and muddy start, the weather appeared relentless early in the day but the crowds turned up to check out another day of great music. There were certainly no fewer patrons on site than at the same time Friday afternoon.

The first show I had on deck was a group I’d been hoping to see on a festival lineup this year since last winter when I first heard their catchy tune Call Off Your Dogs, Lake Street Dive. The four piece based out of Brooklyn by way of Boston helped patrons shake the rain drops off their ponchos with their soulful southern-rock music. They kicked off their set with Godawful Things and I Don’t Care About You off their 2016 album Side Pony. They then explained that the title of “Side Pony” was in reference to not just the hairstyle, but to a lifestyle of just rocking your thing and doing you, some sound advice in a social media culture where people can easily become lost with their self-image and worth. They followed that bit of info with the aforementioned title track. Lead guitarist “McDuck” then swapped the guitar out for a trumpet for the jazz infused Clear A Space off their 2012 album Fun Machine. The trumpet made another appearance later in the set for the song Mistakes a beautiful and soulful slow-jam off their most recent album. They also worked a beautiful cover of Lola by The Kinks in to their set, before ending things off with Bad Self Portraits (the title track of the 2012 album), Seventeen and lastly, the song that first drew me to the band, Call Off Your Dogs.

Up next on the day was the local legends from Toronto, The Sadies. The rockin’ country band were playing for their third time at TURF and their second year straight. The Sadies have worked with some of the top talent from our country, including TURF alumni Neko Case, Canada’s favourite poet Gord Downie, and iconic band Blue Rodeo. Despite working with such big names in the Canadian music scene, The Sadies are far from a household name and I kind of like it that way. I managed to convince a couple friends to join me for their set having never heard of them before, and they were astounded by how talented and fun the band was. It’s one of my favourite parts of attending music festivals with friends, introducing them to quality bands that they in turn become new fans of. While the crowd was sparse and the rain continued to fall, the stage was heating up (much to the liking of the wooden cut-out of a cartoon Satan propped up behind an amp stack). There were young children dancing and splashing enthusiastically in a puddle, while some older fans started a square dance during the footstompin’ jam Higher Power a song in which Travis Good almost certainly renders his fiddle’s bow useless after every performance. Other songs featured in the set were Ridge Runner Rell, Another Year Again, Story 19 and a cover of Blue Rodeo’s Palace of Gold which was recorded under the title The Story’s Often Told on their 2002 album Stories Often Told. The Sadies delivered a perfect mid-day set full of some of their most recognizable songs, whilst displaying the immense talent that keeps Canada’s finest knocking on their door.

A convenient segue into the next part of the article, I too first saw The Sadies not knowing a thing about them back in 2012 at Echo Beach as one of the many opening acts for The Sheepdogs who had just released their self-titled, major label debut. Saturday, the boys from Saskatoon made their TURF debut about fifteen minutes after The Sadies had finished their set. They opened up with one of their most recognizable songs Who, and followed it up with I’m Gonna Be Myself, Back Down, and Bad Lieutenant, all three of them being new songs from their 2015 album Future Nostalgia. They then moved into some of their older material, including Southern Dreaming, a song that single-handedly encapsulates everything The Sheepdogs are about. I never believed in magic or superpowers, but The Sheepdogs harnessed the power of rock ‘n’ roll to bring out the sun after hours of constant rain, maybe that song played a part in it. The set also included one of the stand-out songs (for me) from Future Nostalgia, Take A Trip. They followed it up with Ewan’s Blues featuring the fan favourite Shamus Currie on the trombone. A moment that at nearly every Sheepdogs show results in a chant of “Shamus! Shamus! Shamus!”. It’s pretty much ritual at this point, real fans know. This time around though they cut the trombone solo out of the song and shifted into Help Us All, where Shamus was eventually able to shine and play his delayed trombone solo. They wrapped their set up with Feelin’ Good, their breakthrough hit I Don’t Know, and a The Allman Brothers Band cover of Whipping Post to finish it off. I’ve seen The Sheepdogs about thirteen times now, and every time is just as good as the last. They almost always throw in a classic rock cover near the end of their set, and bass player Ryan Gullen manages to out dress himself at each successive show, that man has a phenomenal wardrobe.

Speaking of nostalgia, up next on the day were iconic Canadian band Barenaked Ladies. They opened with one of their newer tracks Duct Tape Heart followed by a classic from their back catalogue, Easy. They then ad-libbed a song on the spot about the marvels of the Gardiner Expressway and how vital it is if you need to get somewhere fast. If you’re thinking that’s completely inaccurate that’s the joke. The song went on for a few minutes, sarcastically mocking the efficiency of the beloved highway. After moving through a few songs keyboard player Kevin Hearn played a solo snippet of Pure Imagination, the song famously sung by the late Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. It was a beautiful moment early into the set, some crowd members sang along softly, but most just stood in awe at the impeccable delivery.

At that point the crowd had already been won over, and we had barely heard any hits. The band appeared to be so humble and happy just to be up on the stage playing a festival set. They then mixed it up with some new and old songs Passcodes, The Old Apartment (a personal favourite of mine, so glad to see it!), Odds Are and Hello City. They mixed in their famous cover of Lovers In A Dangerous Time with a couple newer tracks before going on a run of hits. Adam from Born Ruffians and Dwayne Gretzky was brought out to play bongos for Brian Wilson (another brilliant song that I was glad to see). Adam had messaged the band on Facebook and said that it would be a dream come true to play the bongos on stage with the iconic band. They followed up with Pinch Me, and a song that I never imagined I’d ever see at a music festival, The Big Bang Theory theme. Yes, that happened. I couldn’t help but laugh, especially when I imagined someone driving by on the Gardiner hearing The Big Bang Theory theme echoing from the park below. Prior to them actually playing the song, they joked that if they had written the song from the perspective of religious folks, it would be a lot shorter. They then gave us a taste of what it would sound like, and in tune and in harmony sang “God did it…”. One of the funniest moments in the set. They followed up The Big Bang Theory with their two biggest hits, and best sing-alongs of the show, One Week and If I Had $1,000,000. The latter worked incredibly well with crowd participation. The back and forth lyrics seemed to split the audience down the middle, some sang the first part, some sang the second part, but the shared harmonies are when it got truly magical. They then ended the show with the most bizarre mash-up of pop music I’ve personally witnessed. It started out with what was shaping up to be a cover of Lean On Me by Bill Withers, but suddenly transformed (I’m just going to list all the songs off, they mainly played choruses and all snippets were complimented with synchronized dancing when possible) into My House-Flo Rida, Work-Rhianna, Let’s Dance-David Bowie, Heart Will Go On-Celine Dion, Hotline Bling-Drake, I Would Die For You-Prince, You Are So Beautiful-Joe Cocker, The Imperial March (with a Darth Vader appearance), then some made up song about allergies, I Wanna Be Sedated, another made up song about alcohol this time, Rock ‘N’ Roll-Led Zeppelin and Blister In The Sun-Violent Femmes. All pulled off and strung together perfectly. Did I think Friday afternoon heading to the festival that my favourite set of the entire weekend was going to be Barenaked Ladies? No, it never even crossed my mind. I severely underestimated how much I would enjoy their set, and it’s largely in part due to their incredible showmanship. I would recommend seeing them live if you never have, it’s a total blast.

The night was capped off by Ween whose cult following was definitely out in full-force Saturday. There were Ween shirts what felt like everywhere, and there were noticeably more people at their set than any other stage the rest of the day. They played songs from all over their eclectic catalogue of music. Their music almost transcends any one particular genre, most of the songs use elements from all different genres. Some songs focus on one general sound, but others seem wander between multiple genres throughout. The experience live is certainly a psychedelic one, it’s a whacky journey. A lot of the songs while bizarre and full of a variety of noises, are actually put together very well, and the band is very tight musically live. It’s easy to see why so many people are massive fans of the band and why they have developed the cult following. Some of the songs featured in the set were Boys Club, You Fucked Up, Bananas and Blow, Israel, The Mollusk, I Don’t Want It, How High Can You Fly, Buckingham Green, The Stallion Part 1. The band certainly has some great music and are fantastic musicians, with some time I’m sure anyone unfamiliar with them could grow to appreciate them.

About author

Writer at Live in Limbo. Ryan is a lover of music, vinyl, concerts and festivals. He's a fan of a large variety of alternative, indie, folk and electronica music. He can be found killing time at the local record shop, trying to see over all the tall people at concerts that tend to stand directly in front of him, or asleep on the couch in track pants. You can follow and share your thoughts with him on Twitter @rdubs89.