The torrential rains that fell upon New York City last weekend didn't stop fans as they crowded Central Park Soggystage (as we call it on days like those) for the citywide celebration of everything Canadian that took place in several venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
This year's edition showcased more under-the-radar acts (last year, alt-pop twin singer-songwriters Tegan and Sara brought in a considerable following) that are somewhat up-and-coming in the northern provinces and also stateside. The result was somewhat mixed, as promoters brought together rap, folk and blues-inflected rock.
Opening the proceedings was Jason Collett, who brought his folk-tinged pop to the appreciation of the crowd. His six-piece band sounded really solid, and he received a warm welcome from the audience as he went through his extended set.
Next up was rapper/singer Buck 65, basically a one-man band who uses loops and other computer effects as he goes through his compositions, throwing one-liners in between. Two additional bandmembers (who were simply introduced as "friends") joined in for a song called "Don't Belong," for which he manned the turntables, while the two other musicians played live drums and moog keyboards. The drummer then switched to electric guitar (in some tunes, he played both), and they quickly moved on to "Kennedy Killed The Hat," a two-minute diatribe on what seemed to be very personal issues.
Buck 65’s short set was a mixed bag of sounds – he borrows from rock, country and other influences to make up his compositions. He seemed to fail to connect with most of the audience, who seemed to flock to the concession stands after about 20 minutes. His music is very raw and unpolished at times, and unfortunately doesn't seem to work at large, open venues like these. One wonders how his vision might work on smaller stages, where he would have the advantage of a more appreciative, experiment-friendly audience.
Closing the evening was Feist, the eclectic indie singer from Toronto. She walked on stage with an acoustic Gretsch and opened with a folk-ish tune that was very reminiscent of Sheryl Crow (she also bears a striking resemblance to the Missouri-born singer). She quickly moved on and played a song whose sound could be described as a sophisticated brand of punk rock. Things cooled off as she switched to an acoustic guitar for a couple of folksy, Pretenders-like pieces.
Feist successfully did what she apparently set o