Big Music Fest 2015
@ McLennan Park, Kitchener
July 11th, 2015
Blazing sunshine, scorching heat, a beautiful outdoor setting, and a kick ass combo of bands were the perfection recipe to make Big Music Fest 2015 a huge success. With a full day lineup which included headliners Soundgarden and Jane’s Addiction, Monster Truck, Extreme, as well as newcomers The Glorious Sons, The Mohrs and The Modern Hearts, it appears that Kitchener’s run at the Festival is here to stay.
The show opened early in the afternoon with the winners of last year’s “Breaking Bands” competition, The Modern Hearts. Their brand of power pop seemed a little out of place in comparison with the powerhouse bands that would follow on the lineup, but their set was appreciated by the small crowd that had gathered by then nonetheless.
Next up were Toronto’s The Mohrs. Jackie Mohr, a former protégé of the legendary Hawksley Workman, along with her band, didn’t disappoint and proved themselves festival ready. Jackie’s powerhouse voice, paired with razor sharp guitar riffs were enough to prove themselves ready to move higher up on the roster next time around.
The Glorious Sons, who were nominated for a Juno Award for best new Artist this year, came to rock – and that they did. Front man Brett Simmons walked on to the stage, grabbed the audience by the proverbial balls, and didn’t let go until they had done what they had come to do – rock, and then roll. “Get your fucking hands up in the air”, said Brett. The boys from Kingston haven’t been around long, but they are certainly stadium ready. The music is tight, the energy is high, and in spite of only have one album to their credit, the audience was still familiar with their repertoire. “White Noise”, “Mama”, “Lightning” and “Heavy”, just one rocking hit rolled on after the other.
Extreme, the first of the 90s era bands scripted into today’s roster, were in fine form. Ageless veterans Gary Cherone, who did a one album stint as vocalist for legendary Van Halen, and Nuno Bettencourt, considered to be one of the best guitarist in the world, did not disappoint. Blasting off with “Decadence Dance”, they swiftly had the crowd in the palm of their hands. “Hole Hearted” soon followed, as well as their classic “Get The Funk Out”, but the highlight of their set clearly was their acoustic favourite “More Than Words”, transforming the audience into a 16,000 member choir.
Hamilton’s Monster Truck took time out of their European and UK tour with Nickelback, to be part of the lineup. Their high energy and personal brand of “Truck and Roll” was the perfect follow up to Extreme’s set. After starting off their with “The Lion”, guitarist Jeremy Wideman declared “I’ve been waiting to do that all fucking day! Let’s go! Sorry Mom!” In spite of the blazing sun and the 28 degree heat, the band effortlessly rolled through the crowd pleasing hits from both of their albums, including other faves “Sweet Mountain River” and “Seven Seas Blues”, as well as two brand new songs “Midnight” and “Don’t Tell Me How To Live”.
The first of the evening’s two headliners, Jane’s Addiction, made their way out shortly before sunset. Perry Farrell, in his checkered suit, and shirtless (of course) Dave Navarro, made their way swiftly onto the stage, and wasted no time getting into third gear, in spite of some minor tech difficulties. The flavour of this set was clearly different from the others, as the founding fathers of alt rock were never ones to fit into a mold other than their own. Neither looking a day older than their first show, they ran through the roster of some their greatest hits with near sonic perfection, and with their typical flair. Part way through the set, their were joined on stage by scantily clad exotic dancers. But wait, there’s more! What would NOT be out of place at a Jane’s Addiction show? Girls performing a suspension act, of course, hanging high above the stage on hooks attached to the flesh on their backs and performing acrobatic twists and turns, while Navarro casually looked on. Winding their set down, a pair of French provincial chairs were brought out into which Navarro and company retired with their acoustic guitars to perform “Jane Says”.
It was past sunset when Chris Cornell and Soundgarden finally took the stage. Kicking it off with Spoonman, the band delivered hit after hit culled from their six album discography. “Black Hole Sun”, “Rusty Cage”, and “Been Away Too Long” were just some of the numbers delivered by the band. No theatrics, no gimmicks, just straight up ass kickin’ rock and roll.
In spite of having to cancel their Sunday lineup of Rod Stewart and Blondie, Big Music Fest 2015 was huge. Shuttle buses to and from the remote parking area was efficient and streamlined. More washroom facilities and more beer tent staff are always desirable, but in spite of these hiccups the festival was still a memorable experience. Here’s looking forward to Big Music Fest 2016!