My First Hillside Experience: Hillside 2012

Hillside 2012 @ Guelph Lake Conservatory, July 27th-29th

There isn’t another festival like this…” – Max Kerman (Arkells)

Everywhere I go, people say [Hillside] is a pillar of how it should be done…” – Joel Plaskett

I’ve heard the praises for Hillside before and I heard them all weekend long. The charm of this “hippy” festival is undeniable, a festival which is impressively run almost entirely by volunteers.

On Friday night, Max Kerman of the Arkells pointed out that part of the reason why this festival is such a success is because everyone chips in. And it’s true. Everyone buys into the “green” system that is set up, with reusable plates, cups and cutlery. People sort their trash at the trash turnaround stations and, better yet, the sorting bins are emptied regularly so there’s no overflow. You won’t find much litter anywhere and everything stays looking beautiful.

And there’s free water! How amazing is that! You just have to provide your own water bottle. And you won’t find beer bottles being sold, as there’s only draught beer at the festival that requires a reusable beer mug.

It’s a family-friendly festival too. If you looked around, there were kids (and even babies) everywhere and it was great to see families enjoying music together.

There were many highlights of the weekend, but I don’t think I walked away from a single set disappointed. By far, the most fun I had was at Rich Aucoin’s set at the Lake Stage that was at capacity. The crowd squeezed together to get as close to the stage as possible and those who couldn’t get up close got on tables to be able to see. While the set was slow to start due to technical issues, the crowd was obviously prepared to sing, dance and jump along with Aucoin. [Side note: before the set even started, there were already antics. A beach ball got stuck and Vish Khanna (CBC Music) challenged someone to knock the ball down for a kiss on the mouth. A gentleman knocked it down, which had the CBC favourite a little worried, but the gentleman instead shouted out his girlfriend with which he was celebrating an anniversary. Vish Khanna did receive a kiss on the cheek, though.]

My favourite part of the festival may be the workshops. We saw a handful, but the gorgeous combination of Ohbijou and The Wooden Sky, as well as the rocking hour with Arkells and The Bright Light Social Hour, stand out in particular. Another amazing moment was seeing Half Moon Run’s set to a crowd unfamiliar with the band that quickly turned into a lovefest of new fans not wanting the set to end. It was also great to see The Strumbellas get everyone dancing up front for their early set. And, as expected, the Joel Plaskett Emergency was the perfect way to end the festival.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to experience my first Hillside, but I know it certainly won’t be my last.

Hillside, you’ve got it figured out.” – Bahamas

Rich Aucoin @ Hillside, 28-07-12

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Categories: Hillside 2012


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