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Mother Mother wraps up high-energy Rifflandia

Sep 17 2012
Hometown heroes Current Swell perform Sunday. 

Hometown heroes Current Swell perform Sunday.

Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com

Rifflandia

When: Sunday

Where: Royal Athletic Park

AMY SMART

Times Colonist

It’s been quite the festival this year: Killer Mike totally killed it on kick-off night Thursday. The Flaming Lips welcomed audiences into their bizarro world of psychedelica Friday. And Cake proved their deadpan sarcasm is still resonates with Vancouver Islanders Saturday.

But those who managed to rally their energy and make it down to Royal Athletic Park for Sunday, the final day of the fifth annual Rifflandia, were duly rewarded with one of the best chain of performances yet.

Quadra-bred five-piece Mother Mother, promoted to headliner since last year’s excellent performance, closed the fest on a high note. They’re becoming pros at this. Besides a brief, off-key stumble on opener Body of Years -- which coolly fused into a merged cover of Daniel Johnson’s Sorry Entertainer and The Pixies’ Gouge Away -- they were off to a flying start.

There’s nothing quite like the harmonies of which a brother and sister like Ryan and Molly Guldemond are capable. The audience was most enthusiastic about songs from 2008’s O My Heart, which has had four years to nestle its way into their hearts. But the crowd was nearly equally receptive to The Sticks, a heavier sound and the title track on the group’s new album, due out Tuesday.

They hardly outshone those earlier in the day, however.

 The highly anticipated Reggie Watts did not let us down. Not many people can get concertgoers screaming by asking, “How many of you love cats?" He's a total weirdo, to be straight about it, who is made extra one-of-a-kind by the cool dance moves and sexy ’fro-beard combo.  But the comedian also has a blow-your-mind good voice and musical talent that makes his quirky sense of humour extra palatable.

He can beat box, key and loop those rhymes like no other. His ode to Canada, comparing it with his American home, won many hearts, with lyrics like, “I think about the differences there are so many. Heaaaaalth Caaaaare.”

Everlast, a.k.a. Erik Schrody,  reminded everyone he’s still kickin’ it -- and that his voice is just as solid as it was when Whitey Ford Sings the Blues put him in the collective consciousness as a capable singer-songwriter in 1998, following his entry with House of Pain. There was no Jump Around, Sunday, while we’re on the topic. But he did mix some newer songs like Little Miss America and I Get By -- a rallying protest tune in favour of the working class -- with older faves like End and What It’s Like.

Earlier in the day, however, young rising locals the Archers broke in the stage alongside xylophone enthusiasts the Xylopholks.

Hometown heroes Current Swell slid from chill surf folk through jam rock. A highlight was Brad’s Song, dedicated to the bandmates' late friend and delivered with the authentic emotion that makes a good song great.

Winnipeggers Grand Analog (now based in Toronto) brought big sound to the side stage, especially on their singalong-friendly hip hop hits like I Play My Kazoo. MC Yogi took hip hop in another direction, infusing it with dubstep and reggae, after delivering a poem about balancing energies (he is a real-life yogi, so it’s only appropriate). Not everybody’s thing. But fairly representative of the diversity of the day.

Australia’s Jinja Safari refreshed the usual indie pop formula with world instruments and energetic harmonies. Speaking of harmonies, Seattle’s the Head and the Heart brought them in three parts (sometimes four!). Their performance of Lost in My Mind, the single that has been making the band a name around the continent, was a highlight.

Hey Ocean! lead singer Ashleigh Ball has killer pipes -- the poptastic group's greatest asset. But let’s be honest, the true highlight was watching Victoria-raised drummer Johnny Andrew’s pint-sized relative Owen bringing down the house with his sweet dance moves.

And thus ends another stellar Rifflandia. Until next year ...

asmart@timescolonist.com

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