On Saturday night, you couldn’t walk around campus without coming across an indie rock band performance.
Attracting respectable crowds as the festival entered its fourth year running. QPOP returned to Clark Hall, The Underground and the Grad Club this weekend with a collection of student and Canadian musicians.
The festival was pared down this year from two nights to one, featuring more student talent than previous years, while also reeling in some complimentary pizza for the crowd.
One of the festival’s organizers, Matt Whittier, said they were trying to offer a more concentrated approach this year, “with no filler spots.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to commit for a weekend,” he said, adding attendees could confidently enjoy the festival from start to finish this year.
Co-organizer Jacqueline Resnick said this year’s re-orientation toward student talent allowed the festival to have more “local pride” while setting itself apart from previous years.
TOPS at the top left and bottom, with Bo Welland top right.
Queen’s student Adam Eisen, Sci ’18, kicked off the festival on Saturday with a solo performance in Clark Hall. Even though Clark had more pizza boxes than people, Eisen managed to bring a great atmosphere to the event with a spirited keyboard performance.
After Eisen had warmed up the crowd, Bo Welland — boasting three of their four bandmembers as Queen’s students — took the stage. The group played their signature mix of punk-inflected folk rock, while ramping up the energy among the assembled friends and music fans.
Not new to playing at Queen’s or Clark, the band’s set was a mixture of newer songs that showcased their softer, more melodic side before moving on to a rock-heavy second half of the set.
Drummer Alex Spears said the last two songs they performed were recorded and going up on Apple Music and other platforms within the next week.
“We also performed two songs that we learned with Alex earlier today,” bassist John Wales said. “We are hoping to record these new songs and work on something big with them in the future.”
After the students came the professionals.
Montreal band TOPS performed to a packed Clark, with many people crowding up front near the stage. Singer Jane Penny made the ticket worth the price with high-quality vocals and even a surprise flute performance.
TOPS is very much cut from the indie cloth, with bittersweet pop that still manages to be uplifting enough to get stuck in your head.
— Clayton Tomlinson
The Grad Club
The Franklin Electric the stage, ordering a set of five shots after their first few songs to celebrate the occaison. The band’s music was grounded in an acoustic and harmony-heavy sound that offered a folk hook to their chiller take on alternative music.
The Franklin Electric
Taking a break for the shots, the band’s singer Jon Matte joked about a time in Hamburg when a band member danced on a bass drum before launching back into their catalogue.
A newer song, titled “Let Me Go,” was soon unveiled with the band’s trumpet as their secret weapon. Surprisingly, it offered a heavier sound as a pounding drum beat undercut a room-filling, horn-backed chorus that captured the attention of the venue’s packed performance area.
The Franklin Electric was an audience favourite, drawing one of the festival’s better crowds with rapt attention to the five musicians crammed on the small stage of the Grad Club.
— Nick Pearce
Meanwhile, rockers of Queen’s band Brightside were fulfilling their goal of playing at The Underground.
A few hours earlier the band joked about writing a song for the festival, like they had done for Homecoming with “I’m Coming Home.”
“We’re a fun band,” guitarist and bass player Jordan Wiener told The Journal. He added that the noise from the band’s practice often works to advertise the show to their neighbours.
“From the neighbours that we’ve talked to, they say ‘at least you guys are good,’” he said. “There’s several people that came after we screamed into the mic, ‘come to our show!’”
Following Brightside and their notable cover of The Tragically Hip’s “Courage,” Indie synth-pop throwback singer songwriter Bossie gave an energetic, committed performance to a sadly mostly empty room. With most of the audience likely opting for The Franklin Electric’s set at the Grad Club, Bossie was left with a few concertgoers milling around The Underground’s couches and ordering drinks as she and her band played a cover of “Solsbury Hill”.
However, the crowds later turned up for Dear Rouge — a more traditional act that brought a solid number of fans to jump along as the band’s central duo traded off vocals over danceable Indie rock songs.
They managed to keep the night’s energy alive despite the challenge of previewing new songs, while working in a cover of Blondie’s “Call Me.”
“It’s Saturday night tonight,” guitarist Drew McTaggart told The Journal, noting the younger demographic allowed the band to embrace something a little more high energy.
“Let’s have some fun,” the other half of the duo, Danielle McTaggart, added.
As QPOP establishes itself as a campus tradition, it becomes more worthy of the title with each year.
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