Summer Live heats up Stanley Park, culminating in a head-spinning Mother Mother performance

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      At Stanley Park on Friday, July 8

      All right, Vancouver, you've redeemed yourself. Thanks to the weeks of rainfall, not to mention the car-flipping shenanigans of a group of hockey-watching hooligans, it was a bit of a rough spring for our fair city. But that all seemed like a distant memory on Friday at Summer Live, as thousands of fans gathered in Stanley Park for a massive free concert on a gorgeous summer day.

      This weekend-long party, held in honour of Vancouver's 125th birthday, began with welcome speeches from the local Coast Salish First Nations peoples and a wide-smiling Mayor Gregor Robertson.

      Next, the Be Good Tanyas kicked off the music in mellow, folksy style. It was the trio's first performance together in three years, and this might explain why the ladies seemed a tad on edge as they joked awkwardly about their out-of-tune instruments.

      They needn't have worried—they displayed some impressive chops, trading off on mandolin, banjo, guitar, and harmonica as they channelled vintage Americana and bluegrass. As enjoyable as the tunes were, the highlight of the set came when a plane flew overhead, pulling a banner with a marriage proposal from an extremely romantic dude named Adam. Julie must be an extremely happy woman, wherever she is.

      The audience was largely made up of families, and between sets, toddlers twirled Hula-Hoops and rolled down the grassy hill at the side of the spacious field. The sun was peeking in and out of the clouds as Barney Bentall hit the main stage, flanked by his long-time backing band the Legendary Hearts. The surroundings clearly stirred up memories for Bentall, as he waxed nostalgic about stopping in Stanley Park on postshow motorcycle rides during the band's early days.

      The group's heartland-rock stylings were ultra-tight, although the frontman cracked up and botched the middle chorus on "Gin Palace" due to the adorably cute dancing of a group of kids close to the front of the stage. Those same little girls later saluted Bentall with the devil horns when the band closed with its Tom Petty-tinged hit "Something to Live For."

      As the stagehands set up for the next act, Fond of Tigers lured fans over to the Trail's Edge Stage with its eclectic take on jazzy art-rock. The performance was made even stranger by the presence of white-faced Kokoro dancers, who lurched across the lawn as if in slow motion.

      Back at the main stage, a massive influx of teenagers assembled at the front in anticipation of Daniel Wesley. He and his bandmates strutted out wearing matching "Van City" T-shirts and launched into the wah-wah–drenched reggae-rocker "Drunk + Stoned". Within seconds, there were clouds of ganja rising up from the tightly packed fans, who added to the summer atmosphere by hitting around a number of brightly coloured beach balls.

      One fan took his enthusiasm a little too far, clambering up on-stage and drunkenly hollering into the microphone before being forcibly escorted away by security. And while the stagehands might not have appreciated the rowdiness, Wesley appeared elated, pleading with the stage manager to let him play an extra song.

      The excitement was feverish by the time headliner Mother Mother arrived, and the five-piece opened with the spiky "Chasing It Down". This segued seamlessly into "The Stand", which got the fans jumping in time to its stomping, synth-spiked chorus.

      A few songs later, during the quirky folk rocker "Wrecking Ball", everyone went apeshit when the organizers unleashed three gigantic inflatable orbs into the crowd. These lit up a different colour each time the fans punched them back into the air. The globes continued to ricochet around the field for the remainder of the night, which offered everything that you'd expect from a Mother Mother show: a head-spinning mix of folk, pop, and atmospheric rock, all executed with impeccable precision, and featuring plenty of guitar heroics from frontman Ryan Guldemond.

      This would have been impressive on any night, but with thousands of Vancouverites soaking in a perfect evening in Stanley Park, it was magical.



      Pat Crowe

      Jul 9, 2011 at 8:46am

      And then the crowd torched the city and blew up the police station.

      Standing Water

      Jul 9, 2011 at 11:19am

      If the riot shows anything, it is that we need more police stations---the de facto monopolist unionized police force is not up to the job of maintaining order. Officer Safety > Public Safety for them. Not very heroic.