Wavelength 2016: Saturday

By Jennifer Hyc

On Saturday, February 13th, Wavelength Music Series’ sweet 16th instalment celebrated community, connection, and warmth — things you may even associate with Valentine’s Day, provided that you aren’t a total cynic. Ironically, this all took place on the coldest weekend of the year so far. Regardless of the vicious chill that threatened an otherwise beautiful sunny day, many brave, art-loving souls emerged from their homes and gathered together to celebrate Canada’s underground music scene.

Saturday afternoon featured an all-ages matinee show at Markham House in Mirvish Village. The space provided festival-goers with much needed warmth and, as the venue gradually filled up, coziness. Before and in between sets, those in attendance had the option of exploring the gallery’s two floors or grabbing a drink or two from the bar. Near the entrance there were posters, interactive exhibits, and a diorama pertaining to the future of Mirvish Village, post-Honest Ed’s, and the importance of green spaces in establishing sustainable communities within the city.

Up on the second floor, attendees could enjoy posters from the last decade of Wavelength Music Series, associated concert photography, and even a cozy tent! Somewhere amidst the nostalgia pieces and the copious amounts of natural light pooling into the venue was an overwhelming feeling of familial warmth and shared community. It was easy to feel budding pride for the festival’s artistic legacy in Canada’s underground music scene, even if you were completely new to Wavelength.

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Partner (Acoustic Set)

Partner kicked off the afternoon’s entertainment, hitting the ground running. Hailing from Sackville, New Brunswick, Lucy Niles and Josée Caron delivered a charming opening acoustic set, featuring middle school locker room stories and a whole lot of gay. While the duo normally performed their sets with the help of amps and drums, these acoustic renditions made it easier to appreciate the humour and excellent comedic timing of their lyrics. I couldn’t help but think back to Flight of the Conchords, except with “two gay Canadians” singing about Ellen Page. As soon as they took the floor, all eyes were on them. The afternoon was off to a stellar start.

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Steven Lambke

While certainly not a new face in the Toronto music scene, Constantines vocalist-guitarist Steven Lambke filled the room with serene and wispy folk melodies. Prior to taking the stage, Wavelength artistic director Jonathan Bunce encouraged those in the room to sit on the floor, citing the fact that “… this is an all-ages show, and what do all ages like to do?” The arrangement made for an even more intimate setting and became somewhat reminiscent of grade-school assemblies, with Lambke as the guest storyteller. The combination of soothing sounds and the relaxed sitting arrangement could have spelled the perfect opportunity for an afternoon nap, but interim stage banter with the audience and with fellow guest musicians Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station) and Mika Posen (Merganzer) kept the audience grounded and in the moment.

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Merganzer

Mika Posen’s experimental chamber-pop project Merganzer led the transition from acoustic folk to atmospheric synth-pop flawlessly, marking a shift in the near-evening’s festivities. While carrying on with the relaxed and subtle sound of the previous set, the musical landscapes ballooned and expanded throughout the gallery, filling up every crevice and making up for any remaining space in the venue. Synth drones and violin created an eerie and captivating ambiance, pushing the confines of the space until the sound seemed to function as a living and breathing entity.

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Foxes in Fiction

Warren Hildebrand’s solo act Foxes in Fiction delivered what was easily the most expansive and adventurous performance of the afternoon. The dream-pop up-and-comer had the focus of every person in attendance from the first note, as one of the major headliners of the festival. Hildebrand made a concerted and creative effort to delight nearly each of our senses, from performing against a backdrop of rotating stained-glass projections to employing an air diffuser to fill the room with a subtle and sweet smell. The more impressive feat of the performance was his capability of manipulating the ten or so different effects pedals at his feet to create the waves and walls of sonic majesty emerging from the lone, soft-spoken performer. Hildebrand’s spell couldn’t quite be shaken at the conclusion of his set, leaving many in the audience lingering, seemingly dumbfounded, in the hopes of witnessing another burst of colour.

While the evening’s events were just getting started, with many Markham House guests awaiting the Wavelength-chartered school bus to take them to the Garrison, this reviewer couldn’t help but feel wholly satisfied by the afternoon’s performances. The talent, the art installations, and the juxtaposition between community-based nostalgia and future made for a uniquely Torontonian event. It made for something to be proud of and something to look forward to in music.

See more photos from the event on our official Facebook page.

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