Photos by Neil Van
Apparently Matty Fest was controversial, but a part from some off colour remarks by the host, and some perhaps x rated lyrics I observed a family friendly afternoon with a surprising number of young ones , some excellent food not the least of was the notorious Budha Dog and great music or in the words of Matt Matheson “life juice”.
Up first, Jennifer Castle, this woman’s voice transports the listener back to the glory days of Patsy Cline or Reba McEntire with a modern sensibility and a folkish undertone. Her poetic wonderings and balladic style create a lovely soundscape that transports the listener to lazy days and blowing winds, or wherever she’d like to take you. The light double time skiffle beat and oum pa bass line only adds to her musical charm.
Young Gunz, was fun enough, like someone from the ramones if they had a lighter more refined tenor voice. The writing was very charismatic if a little light, their style grows on you once you accustom yourself to their more forceful driving guitar and rhythm section. The lead singer’s mother was apparently at the show which he informed us (the audience) that he was very excited about.
Shortly after four we move ourselves over to the Beach stage as one does at a festival or in the words Matty Matheson “a festival is just walking around, drinking, eating, listening, and walking around, there’s a lotta walking”, I may be paraphrasing but the gist of it is next we saw the Metz. Opening with Mess of Wires the Metz driving hardcore old school Black Flag esque punk vibes through their audience into a frenzy of happy violent moshing. Throughout their set the three piece group maintained a pace both breakneck and entrancing as they pulled their audience through the violent questioning and soul searching of cellophane right to the end with the powerful and desperate aphorisms in Acetate.
After that we watched Matty Matheson address the stage , whilst clearly in a wonderful mood took his time making his various points, including an origin story (about the festival) more convoluted than a DC time-line. However alls well that ends well and Matheson closed his remarks with his mission statement for his festival; “Restaurant quality food, Good music and good people”.
Following Matheson’s address was some of the hardest hitting MC’ing Ive witnessed. Danny Brown took the stage with a beat you could feel in your chest. His prose blasted the audience in a combination of trap and speed rap that was breathtaking in both depth of subject and power of rhyme. A mix of party anthems, gangsta rap Brown regaled the audience with his works ranging from his essential early works such as Aderal Admiral, to his Trib Called Quest tribute; Can I Grow Up, he even gave us a preview of his new album produced by Q-Tip with Dirty Laundry.
For something completely different if equally complex the Matty stage was playing host to Standing On The Corner, a six person atmospheric lounge jazz group that brought an element of classical jazz mixed with some very traditional rhythms and over melismatically wandering and improvisatory sax solos.
Gogolo Bordello took the Beach Stage like they owned it and rocked echo beach down to its very sandy bones. Opening with I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again, and segueing directly into It’s Not a Crime the Manhattan punk band combines gypsy jazz virtuosity with the raw energy of a freight train of punk energy. The bottle of wine Eugene Hutz carried served more as a prop, sprinkling the crowd as much as it did a beverage, the wind kicked up during the set creating an overall feel of wild abandon that carried the set to the next level. The opening lines to Star Wearing Purple had the entire audience in absolute sync with the band and they brought it home with an absolute crowd pleaser, Undistructable.
If Jerry Lee Lewis was in a rock band in the twenty-first century he might sound something like this. A soulful old timey american rock voice with a lyrical ballad style that weaved tails that mix everyday experiences with current socio political issues Daniel Romano successfully carries forth a new old style of rock and roll that’s delightfully refreshing yet comfortingly familiar.
If Henry Rollins and Steven Page tried to form a punk band it might sound something like the Descendants. Forty percent punk, forty percent canadian pop sound and twenty percent boyishly ridiculous lyricism the Descendants manages to be delightfully insincere yet raw they continue to put on a punk show worthy of their reputation and name.
Chastity, last band on the Matty stage, was an abrupt change from the previous experience. Suburban Indie rock , where lyrics explore tension, boredom, sadness and rage being accompanied by very laid back chordal progressions they brought an angst ridden if peaceful end to the Matty stage’s day.
Last and greatest, The Wu Tang Clan, one at a time, each member being introduced to the stage. Like a multi voiced fugue each voice adding their own theme as they entered, then blending and colliding to create a polyphony of words and meanings. Once they were all assembled , they blasted the crowd with every essential from Wu Tang Clan Aint Nuthin to Fu** With to C.R.E.A.M and everything in between. They harnessed the toronto summer evening energy and held the audience in the palm of their hands, vacillating between waxing lyrical and giving the audience exactly what they came for, a performance by one of the greatest MC groups alive.
As an addendum I’d like to add many thanks to the gate staff for being, well in their words “the best” and they really were.