Photos by Dawn Hamilton
When I arrived at Butler’s Barracks on Sunday afternoon I was unprepared for A: how bloody hot it would be, and B: how many people would be in attendance. Dine Alone Records put on the event alongside Wayne and Daryl from the Canadian sitcom, Letterkenny as the hosts of the day. When I arrived a few songs into Dear Rouge’s performance, there were already thousands of people basking in the sun and getting ready for an evening filled with some of the nation’s most talented artists in celebration of Canada Day weekend.
Dear Rouge kicked off the event as the first of what would be four performances. This was my second time hearing the JUNO award-winning band play live, and I do like their electronic/rock sound. They played a few of the more well known hits such as “Tongues” and “Best Look Lately”, as well as some of their tracks I didn’t recognize. The lead singer, Danielle McTaggart had the same upbeat energy as I remembered during her performance and overall the band played a pretty solid set.
I grabbed a bite to eat in between Dear Rouge and the next performer, Stars. Looking back it was probably the best decision we made the entire evening, considering the lines for food were about one hundred people long by the time Blue Rodeo came on. This was my first time seeing Stars live, and I was really excited about it. From the looks of it alone it seemed like the band was really happy to be there. The lead singer mentioned that he just lived down the street, and was glad to be able to perform for the crowd in celebration of Canada Day. The front man and front woman had really great chemistry and they had the crowd dancing along with them for a lot of the more upbeat tracks.
The Strumbellas played the third set and brought out a larger crowd with the success of their most recent record. I’m a fairly big fan of the indie rock group, and enjoyed the playful and casual way they all interacted with the audience despite how big the crowd was. The performance felt really down to earth, and had people singing along to some of their more recent singles such as, “We don’t know”, “Young and Wild” and of course, “Spirits”.
When it was time for Blue Rodeo to perform it had started to cool down, but the venue had filled up quite a bit as well. I was really excited to hear some of the tracks that the group were most famous for such as, “Try” and “Lost Together”, and was even more excited when they brought out The Strumbellas for the latter. It was quite a special performance, as the sky began to set with a stunning display of colours while the iconic Canadian rock band played for the large crowd.
Finally, the evening concluded with the headlining performance from City & Colour. I’ve seen Dallas Green perform a number of times before, but it seemed extra special to watch him perform in his hometown. He spoke about how grateful he was to be back playing a show before his performance of one of his first singles, “Coming Home”. A couple of songs into the set it started to rain, but after what seemed like just a few drops the sky cleared up and decided to hold out for the rest of the evening. The rest of the performance was really well done, with the crowd singing along to some fan favorites such as “The Girl”, “Sleeping Sickness” and many more. Overall, it was an excellent way to spend the day, celebrating Canada and Canadian music.