QPOP Music Festival: Day One Review

Summary of the first day of QPOP performances

The Sweet Jets put on an energetic performance at the Grad Club on Friday night.
The Sweet Jets put on an energetic performance at the Grad Club on Friday night.
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Luke Roes of the Ivory Hours performing at Clark Hall Pub.
Luke Roes of the Ivory Hours performing at Clark Hall Pub.
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Rich Aucoin performing at The Underground.
Rich Aucoin performing at The Underground.
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THE GRAD CLUB

Sweat, tears and rock n’ roll seemed to be the theme of the first night of the QPOP Festival at the Grad Club.

On Friday night, in the Victorian-era home turned pub, students and music-lovers alike gathered in for a night of smashing electric guitars and upbeat drums.

Ranging from indie pop rock to a deeper weapon-rock, both acts – the Sweet Jets and Wildlife – brought the Grad Club to life with their authentic and energetic performances.

The first act of the night was Queen’s native band the Sweet Jets, who performed a 40-minute set of high-energy upbeat numbers.

“I found the crowd just sort of blew up all at once. I mean 20 minutes before the show there wasn’t a whole ton of people there,” lead bassist James Gagne said. “Then all of a sudden everyone sort of burst in. The crowd was very into it, I felt.”

Hardly ever slowing down, it was clear Sweet Jets didn’t only enjoy playing to the crowd. They were also incredibly passionate about their performance quality.

Their commitment to performance coupled with the energy they exuded is what made the crowd transition from awkward bystanders to hard-core music lovers, excitedly jumping about.

“We hadn’t played together in two months or more so I think it was fun most of all to get back together, the three of us in the same town, “ Gagne said.

Sweet Jets left a vibe of good energy that held the crowd over while waiting for the Canadian weapon-rock band Wildlife to perform.

Taking the stage a little late, but enthusiastically nonetheless, Wildlife started out their set with a kind of organized chaos that only the most seasoned of performers could possess.

“I’ve got a spider-man pick case, how sick is that?” yelled Graham Plant, the lead guitarist, as the band commenced its first song.

By the time Wildlife began their set, the audience was already high on energy from the previous performance, and a crowd quickly formed around a slightly elevated platform, which serves as the venue’s main stage.

Drums beating and bass vibrating, Wildlife gave it their all as lead singer Dean Povinsky howled into the microphone and drummer Dwayne Christie brought the music to life with a solid beat.

The crowd was loving it, swaying enthusiastically and bursting with energy at each downbeat.

— Olivia Loncar-Bartolini

CLARK HALL

Ivory Hours and the Pick Brothers Band brought audiences to their feet at Clark Hall’s QPOP music set on Friday night.

The bar, fittingly adorned with cozy lighting and ambient music, opened its doors at 9 p.m. to eagerly awaiting students. Audiences killed time drinking beer and mingling before the first band, Ivory Hours, came on at the 10:30 p.m.

Overall, the venue was welcoming and managed to set a mellow, carefree mood for the rest of the night.

Ivory Hours, an alternative-pop band from London, Ont., were first to hit the stage. The band consists of members Luke Roes on guitar and vocals, Annie Roes on piano and vocals, Chris Levesque on bass and Thom “Tommy Gun” Perguin on drums.

Perhaps the band’s most intriguing factor were the harmonies put forth by brother-sister duo Luke and Annie Roes, who mirrored each other’s vocal strength. The impressive guitar riffs by Levesque added a cool rock sound to the band’s otherwise alternative music.

After the show, Annie commented on singing and working alongside her sibling, Luke.

“People think we’ve been singing together for a really long time,” she said. “But we haven’t been doing it very long. He runs a tight ship for sure — but it’s fun to be together and to perform as friends and siblings.” The band did a good job of reining in the audience, catering to a more relaxed crowd with songs such as “Mary”, “Young Blood” and covers of famous tunes like “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse.

Roes thought the festival marketed to the right crowd.

“It wasn’t marketed in such a way that people didn’t know what they were getting, or giving things they didn’t want,” she said.

People who are generally interested in the music were there, and that’s a bonus for new bands who have a hard time reaching audiences, Roes added.

Although the band didn’t always have smooth transitions from one song to the next — there was often some confusion involved between the members — their set positively resonated with the audience.

After several minutes of stage set-up, the Pick Brothers Band were up next. The rock and roll/soul band brought a more electric, energetic vibe to Clark.

The trio is made up of Toronto-based brothers Jeremiah Pick on guitar and drums, Gabriel Pick on vocals, guitars and drums and Casey Pick on bass. All three brothers contribute to vocals.

The band was able to put a twist on rock and roll, with uniquely gravelling vocals from each member showcased in refreshing tunes such as “Circles” and “Can’t Be You”. The youngest brother, Gabriel, took the vocal lead and performed effortlessly despite his young stature.

According to Gabriel, the band was excited for the opportunity to perform at QPOP.

“It’s an honour to be performing here at QPOP. You guys are awesome,” Pick said on a break during the set.

The instrumentals stood out with the Pick Brothers, with astounding guitar and drumming solos contributing to their rock sound. Audiences responded overwhelmingly to the band, crowding around the stage and even jumping onto it, to the band’s delight. The band’s energy clearly rubbed off on the students.

On the whole, the first night of QPOP at Clark Hall generated a positive response among audiences and band members alike.

— Kashmala Omar

THE UNDERGROUND

On Friday night, The Underground was slowly brought to life to the beats of DJ Klynk.

The room was empty except for 10 people who were awkwardly mulling around trying to make something of DJ Klynk’s set, which was reminiscent of a high school dance. His set didn’t seem to have any congruency and the volume was inconsistent at times.

The set covered a range of genres, including Fergie’s “My Humps” and “The Electric Slide”. Although not particularly captivating in his engagement with the audience, his set-up on the stage had plenty of atmosphere.

It wasn’t until around half past 10 p.m. that the room started to fill in earnest, and at the 10:55 mark Rich Aucoin started preparing for the main event of the night.

The band, consisting of Rich Aucoin and his drummer, made a stage of the area that’s usually filled with comfortable seating, near the door. This seemed an unlikely choice, as it’s enclosed by railings, but Aucoin made it work.

With enough energy to fill the room and charm that would make Lucky the Leprechaun jealous, Aucoin had the audience transported to a world of pop and ecstasy.

When he wasn’t firing confetti cannons from behind his table full of equipment or physically engaging with the dynamic video art that was projected on the back wall, Aucoin was right in the thick of the audience, which was jammed up like a pile of jumping beans at the foot of the stage.

Aucoin’s performed songs from his 2011 album We’re All Dying to Live and his new album Ephemeral. The set was a mood-lifting cocktail of penetrating beats, crowd-rallying anthems and electrifying synthesisers.

Aucoin divided his time between the stage and the dance floor, guiding the audience through the experience with direct and personal interaction. Dancing in the middle of the crowd, Aucoin transformed the group of sweaty, half-drunk strangers into one hyped-up community – sometimes with the help of props.

It wasn’t until the end that he pulled out all the stops and introduced a parachute and completely sheathed the crowd in its colourful nylon joy.

After bringing his set to a close, Aucoin didn’t make his exit, but stepped down onto the dance floor.

It wasn’t as if Aucoin performed for the crowd, but rather that he performed with the crowd. His uncanny ability to connect with his audience to his act was striking.

Overall, DJ Klynk’s opening tunes left the audience wanting more, and Rich Aucoin provided it.

— Luke Kesseram

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