June 23 2014 – What is labeled as Canada’s largest free music festival kicked in with a roar on June 7th. In an odd format the festival kicks off on a Saturday with a bunch of bands and then kicks into high gear the following weekend for 4 days straight. We were thrilled to see the lineup for the first day so on Saturday June 7th we took the QEW westbound to Burlington (essentially a suburb of the Greater Toronto Area).
Canadian rock from the 70’s/80’s was on full display with three local (Ontario) acts bringing us back to the days where rock ruled supreme. As the night progressed the crowd swelled and in the end left us with a great love and respect for one of our favorite festivals on the circuit – Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival.
Teenage Head kicked off the evening session and although this is a band I have not heard of much since the 80’s – their reputation as Canada’s premier punk band really was more of a moniker of a different time. Although the band delivered solid performances of their big hits Let’s Shake and (particularly) Something On My Mind I was reminded that this is really not a punk band, but a hard rock band with an edgy rough sound. As with most bands of that era very little remains of the original lineup from 1980’s peak of Frantic City. Only guitarist Gord Lewis is still part of the band and in fact their original singer Frankie Venom has passed away in 2008. Nonetheless the new members of the band Steve Marshall, Jack Pedler and Pete MacAulay performed a highly entertaining early evening set.
Edit: One of our readers has alerted us of an error in the above. Thanks for keeping us honest Greg! “There were 2 original members for Teenage Head on stage for this show, Steve Mahon was there and is the only member of the band to have never missed a show except for 1 due to a broken leg. He is their bass player“
Next was Coney Hatch another Canadian heavyweight. Coney Hatch was easily one of my favorite Canadian bands growing up and then they went away. Their career simply included 3 albums from 1982-1985 but their first album included major rockers, Monkey Bars, Devil’s Deck and Hey Operator. The band returned after a way too long hiatus with a fourth album released last year that was named in the Top 50 Albums of the Year from influential Classic Rock Magazine (the article lists Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris as a fan of the band).
Tonight the lineup included 3/4 of the glory day lineup of the 80’s and in particular Carl Dixon on Vocals and Guitar, Andy Curren on Vocals and Bass (the band utilized 2 singers similar to Triumph – different songs, different singers), Dave Ketchum on Drums and although original guitarist Steve Shelski is part of the band he was not playing tonight. Instead the man we see everywhere Sean Kelly was filling in admirably (If you don’t know Kelly and what he does for the Toronto rock scene do yourself a favor and check out our Metal on Ice review found here). For me (personal tastes), Coney Hatch was the highlight of the night and damn it felt good to hear the closing songs of Devil’s Deck and Monkey Bars. Classic Canadian rock at its best – keep going at it guys, we are rooting for you!
Last but not least was the headliner Kim Mitchell. King Kim was in his natural environment – outdoors Canada under a summer moon. The crowd noticeably swelled for his set and there is no doubt about his ability to draw people. With a collection of songs from both Max Webster and his solo era, Mitchell delivered all the songs people expected from him including Go For Soda, I Am a Wild Party, Easy to Tame and Paradise Skies. The two encores were the biggest hits including Patio Lanterns, and the kick ass Battle Scars (one of the best rock dual band songs featuring Max Webster and Rush). Personally I am a fan of the Max Webster songs, far more than the solo work, but the party was in full effect in Burlington throughout the whole set.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 – Pretty awesome for a “warm up” night where the Sound of Music Festival was not even in full swing. The following weekend would feature massive crowds for bands such as Monster Truck and The Sheepdogs (ahhh the power of youth!). Earlier in the day were Stone River (one of our favorite up and coming Toronto rock bands), Carole Pope (of Rough Trade) and Lou Gramm (of Foreigner).
Best set for me goes to Coney Hatch, but truly the overall experience was top notch and puts Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival firmly on our must see list for 2015.
We leave you with various images from the night.