LIVE @ THE EX – MINI EDITORIAL
By: Fridae Mattas
Time for The EX Toronto! A giant carnival held every year at Exhibition grounds in August, it is open until September 3rd. So much to do, various activities and rides for all ages plus plenty of music to enjoy at CNE Bandshell!
The first musical performance at the CNE Bandshell was by Big Sugar with supporting act Flash Lightin‘ on Saturday August 18th. I did not make it on time for the opening band and was late for Big Sugar’s set, this was all due to my wandering the CNE hopped up on cold meds! The EX at night with all the pretty colours is very distracting for someone with a short attention span like myself.
Never in my life have I seen Big Sugar live, I don’t even listen to their music but everyone deserves one shot. Always thought of Big Sugar like “Great Big Sea” or “Blue Rodeo”, so naturally I was a little apprehensive on covering the set. Of course there was no pit access which was frustrating but gave me a heads up for what to expect covering music at the CNE. I really don’t like blocking the fans and at least in the pit I can crouch down and shoot low instead of holding the camera above the crowd. When you’re thrown lemons you make those bitches werk! That I did! The only benefit of crowd filming was the crisp sound, there was no need to pull out the rode. However, the footage is shaky but the photos are pretty good. I recently discovered how to stabilize footage but it takes forever, the video I managed to save will be up shortly! Until then my friends enjoy these photos, you can find a few more here.
My perception of how the band was going to sound was way off! They were nothing like the folky Newfie rock of Great Big Sea that I was expecting. Front man Gordie Johnson has this bluesy grit to his voice and although diction was sometimes muddled he sounded fantastic to my ears. The rest of the band played in unison, I do wish they had a little more enthusiasm in a performance aspect, some of them looked as if they were bored out of their minds. The lighting was okay, only issue was the white lights drowning everyone out. It didn’t matter where I migrated to find the good light it was still super bright. Slightly new to DSLR filming, I always forget about how easily this type of camera shakes when moving. Plus leaving all my lens filters at home except the one on the lens didn’t help with lighting issues.
Harmonica player Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe was loving every minute of being on that stage, his harmonica skills were easy on the ears and I didn’t feel like I was at a hoedown. Back up vocalist Meredith Shaw has her own recently released record. She held her own despite a few pitchy moments and harmony blending issues.
It started raining and I took that as my cue to exit bandshell park for the evening, no way was I about to stick around for more precipitation! I had enough of the rain, I always catch a cold and it has rained every weekend this past month at almost every outdoor event I have covered. I tried to keep filming the one last tune but I couldn’t risk my gear getting wet. I put away the camera, watched one more track before leaving to meet a few friends and eventually migrate home. In the future I hope to be checking Big Sugar out again and if they come to your area I suggest you go see them.