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Leveestock Review – St.John’s

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Leveestock Review – St. John’s – Havin’ a time!

Leveestock 2013

Leveestock BA Johnston – Cred: Christa Cram

What: Leveestock – 4 days of peace love and music
Where: The Levee – St. John’s NL
When: Aug 15-18, 2013

In case it wasn’t already obvious, Leveestock was inspired by Woodstock. The Woodstock Festival was billed as “3 days of peace, love, and music,” and Leveestock was much the same and held on the exact same days. Well, it was actually extended by a day as it’s Newfoundland and we always need an extra day, and any excuse,  to drink and listen to good tunes. This four day festival was described by the bar’s owner, Gene Browne, as “a celebration of our fantastic music scene and the wonderful people who make it up — both in the bands and on the floor watching them.” It showcased some of of our province’s best talent and everyone who attended left smiling.

The festival kicked off on Thursday evening and it was easy to see that Adam Baxter and His Best Friends completely stole the show. While there’s no doubt that The Skylarks provided an amazing set with their bluesy jazz tunes, the following act brought new meaning to the saying “having a time.” Everyone was bobbing along and it was impossible to deny the energy coming from these guys. They truly were “having a time” and wanted the audience to join in on it. Adam Baxter always jokes around with the crowd and provides hilariously witty banter between his heartfelt songs and this night was no exception, he had the crowd laughing and smiling in no time. However, those songs sounded even better then ever with the duo of Jordan Young and Jerry Stamp backing him up.  The harmonies these three provided were undeniably good, making these songs sound just amazing even though they were already incredibly beautiful.

Thursday night was so good that I fell asleep early on Friday and completely missed that night’s line up, which was super disappointing as I adore Smiley Ralph and their silly little songs. However, after hearing many people describe it and seeing videos from the show, I can say that the bar was pretty packed on Friday as well. It also would appear that Hear/Say were the highlight of that evening. While they are not my thing at all with their hip-hop dance-y mix, what they’re doing with those catchy tunes, they’re doing so incredibly well. I’ll admit to being to their shows and being so captivated I stayed and watched even though the music is not my thing. They had the crowd on their feet throughout their entire set at Leveestock.

Where do I even begin with Saturday night’s line up for Leveestock though? This was one of the best line ups I have seen here in ages and was definitely the highlight of the festival. The night began with The Glendas, who provide a full alternative rock band sound despite only being two people. They put off a fantastic, energetic set and set the tone for the evening.

The amazing music just kept coming. Lunge were up next with their good old fashioned rock music, keeping it real and providing some wailing vocals.

Bridges continued that energetic trend as per usual, with their vocalist bouncing about the stage as they drowned the crowd in their brand of post punk alternative rock. I’ve heard them branded as that anyway, I don’t really know how you can put a label on them, they’ve got that alternative rock sound, but there’s also tinges of bands like At The Drive In, and Incubus thrown in as well. It’s hard to label them with just a few words when their music encompasses so much. Either way, even if that weird mixture of music is not your thing, seeing them live is always a great experience.

Dodgeband were next to take the stage, and my mind is blown at how far this band has progressed over the years. The new line up has completely nailed that Dodgeband sound they were after.  I feel like they’re saying “here’s everything you love about the 90’s put into one band.” That’s exactly what this band is to me, everything I loved about the alternative and rock portions of the nineties thrown into a band who also like to use pedals and create a bunch of space noises along with their music. Brilliant!

While all the acts on Saturday were just fantastic, the headliner that night was definitely The Satans, who are smothered in originality.  They took the stage donning corpse paint, and gave the crowd their interesting take on surf punk tunes. It’s quite obvious that this is who people really came for. Several patrons of the bar were also decked out in matching Satans corpse paint and as soon as the band started, the crowd began feeding off their energy. Some were even bouncing about the crowd with casts and crutches, still wanting to be a part of the action. Several people were thrown onto the stage at various points throughout their set and everyone left soaked in beer and sweat. That’s how a good show is supposed to end.

Even though Saturday appeared to be the climax of the festival, Sunday marked the end of this great celebration and the people who made it out that night were pleased with the outcome. It was the perfect way to end off Leveestock. Baytown and The Idlers did rotating sets and provided the crowd with tunes that are impossible to stay still to. The Idlers were the highlight of the night here though. With their “ska reggae circus,” there is no way to keep your body from bouncing along with those tunes. The horns, that fantastic drum beat, and those incredible bass lines.  I’m not a dancer by any means, I usually dislike it greatly, but The Idlers constantly get me up on my feet and wiggling about. The dance party these bands provided seems like the perfect ending to such an amazing weekend.

All in all, I think Leveestock was an excellent way to showcase the amazing talent in this place and display just how varied the types of music covered here are. It was quite the musical celebration and I hope there are more like it in the future.

Review and Photo: Christa Cram


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