Review: CityFolk (Corb Lund, Royal Canoe, Matt Mays)

After working all day on the deck I headed into town for my favourite festival…CityFolk!  Bluesfest used to hold the torch for my favourite festival but now that CityFolk has a better beer selection and better overall vibe, this festival now wins the key to my heart.

They changed the layout in recent years so there is a stage set up inside the Aberdeen Pavilion (this used to be the case as well but for the free Marvest concert series, not the paid concerts).  I arrived and went directly to the Ravenlaw stage where Fred Penner was playing.  I never grew up knowing Fred Penner but I know that Trish is a fan so I figured I would stay for a few songs along with Andre and Karilee.

Fred!  Photo taken from

We then headed out to the Great Lawn where I completely forgot one of the reasons I had to come tonight….to see Corb Lund!  Mike introduced me to Corb a few years back and while I don’t generally gravitate to the country genre, he definitely has convinced me that it’s a genre to listen to.  He was playing some tunes along with Ian Taylor.  Andre pointed out that he’s a Canadian icon in the country/folk circles that I would have to get to know.  It’s crazy to think that there are still some musicians in Canada that I don’t know anything about!  It was a great set with each of them trading off singing duties and throwing some good jokes out to the crowd.

Pretty darn close to the stage!

Great shot –

We then headed back to the Ravenlaw stage to check out this band called Royal Canoe.  Now, before I start talking about them, I have to tell you about a feeling that everyone has experienced in their lifetime.  It’s that moment that someone puts on a song, or you see a band and you instantly connect with what they are playing.  You don’t know what it is, you’re not familiar with the tune they are playing, but it’s a moment of instant attraction.  The last time I had that feeling was seeing The Weeknd at Bluesfest back in 2012.

Well, I got sucked into the tractor beam of awesome when Royal Canoe started playing.  It was crazy what was going on musically as well as physically on stage.  I was impressed.  We were all impressed.  I loved how they had two drummers.  I loved the double mic setup with the vocalist.  I loved the clipped on lapel mic for autotuned vocals from the guitarist.  I don’t even know what genre of music this falls into, but it doesn’t matter, I love it.

Pretty darn close to the stage!

We ended up leaving about halfway through to go see Father John Misty and then Karilee and I decided to head back to catch the rest of their set!  Fantastic show and I encourage everyone to take a listen to these guys from Winnipeg.  Also, the singer kind of looks like Prince Harry!

Prince Harry indeed.  Photo from

After the Royal Canoe show I hit up the merch booth and picked up a couple of their albums and we met up with Andre and Dave to watch Father John Misty.  I’m not entirely sure what to think fo this act.  I see his name in the headlines across many music sites in the past year so I know he’s a big deal.  From what I heard, I wasn’t really blown away, but maybe I was just trying to absorb the kinetic energy I had just witnessed on the previous stage and wasn’t in the mood to hear anything else.  I’m sure Father John Misty fans can tell me what I was missing out on!

I left the show a few minutes early to ensure myself a good spot for the main event of the night…Matt Mays!  Yes, he’s back!  He also has a new album coming out next month so I was hoping to hear a few new tunes.  The place was JAM PACKED and Andre and Karilee couldn’t even make it back to where I was standing.

Rocking it.

I love the look of this incarnation of the band.  I feel they were ripped right out of the 80s.  I mean, check out that guy on keyboards!  Andre said he thought it was Wheels from Degrassi.  While we can joke about how he looks, that guy was fantastic on the keys.  He also had a moment to let loose and play a solo that sounded like Eddie Van Halen erupting from whatever keyboard-type instrument he was playing up on stage.  These guys were top notch.

They are loving life, and we were loving it with them.

If you frequent arena shows, then you’re not used to the rock n roll sweat.  That’s what happened at this show…it was jam packed with BTUs emanating from all the human beings in the house and it was sticky, sticky sweaty.  It was awesome when you see Adam Baldwin’s hair just soaked with it and you can see it flying off his hair into the crowd.  The guys were putting on a solid rock show and the people were loving it.  We even got to hear a couple of new tunes which were fantastic and I’m stoked to hear the new album.

The main set ended with Terminal Romance, only my favourite song ever.  I also love the guitarist looking to the heavens in the back of this shot!

The band were on fire all night long and the crowd was into it as well.  Perfect show!

Matt Mays agrees!


Matt Mays setlist

Tall Trees
Sentimental Sins
Drive On
Queen of Portland Street
Take It on Faith
City of Lakes

Cocaine Cowgirl
On The Hood



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