Despite the frigid temperatures, the crowd continued to stroll in and take in all that Kingfest had to offer. Situated on the serene grounds of Seneca Campus in King City, festival goers were greeted by enthusiastic friendly volunteers at every turn. Whether it was directing us to the right stage (there were four) for the openers or distributing freebies, smiles were abound. I suspect their zest for the event probably had something to do with the impressive musical line up that were about to hit the stage tonight.
Toronto rockers, The Salads, kicked off the festivities on the Kingpub, not the main stage, as so many realized when they heard the blast of Dave Ziemba's guitar. Loaded with a heavy pop punk edge, this zany foursome didn't really fit the bill to launch a festival dubbed as "folk". That said, they were definitely a draw for some of the younger "folk"; maybe that was the intent. As everyone hustled in under the make-shift beer tent, frontman Mista D(aka Darren Dumas) fiercely fun personality took hold. Before we knew what hit us, Mr. D had everyone happily slamming into to each other with snappy rappy punk tunes "The Roth Kung Fu" and "Get Loose". Even more somber lyrics, "stop the hate and violence" and "cries that beg for peace", are cleverly executed with danceable reggae beats in "A Better Way". "Kingfest" may not have been the right venue for "The Salads" but they would prove to be the most energetic entertainment of the evening.
Switching gears, Joel Plaskett Emergency led us into the folk. Now at the main stage, everyone staked out their spot on the hillside with blankets and chairs. Joel's boyish demeanor held true as he donned a wooly cable knit vest. It was chilly out but could the boy find nothing more grown up than a sweater vest? Maybe it's a Maritime thing. Playing a handful of tunes from their latest "Ashtray Rock", there's definite maturity in JPE's smart yet fun songs. The heavy guitar-pop track "True Patriot Love" balanced nicely against the lighter hit "Can I Go Nowhere With You".
As the night grew colder, The Trews warmed us with their brand of melodic rock. Brothers Colin and John MacDonald had everyone up and dancing along to radio-friendly hits "So She's Leaving" and "Yearning". The infusion of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter" ensured no one was left sitting. Even the sappy lyrics of "Poor Old Broken Hearted Me" were made bearable by the addition of some rock'n guitar riffs and a cow bell.
By the time Sloan finally hit the stage, the crowd had grown to a decent size. Now wrapped up in blankets, everyone settled in to hear these East Coasters mix it up as they led off with the popular "The Other Man". As my toes were now frozen and not being a huge fan of Sloan's schmaltzy folk tunes, I opted out of this one, and headed for the heat of my car. I did manage to hear "Who Taught You To Live That Way", the one song that hasn't saturated the airwaves yet and is probably why I didn't mind hearing it.
Writer: Lisa Kerr