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DVSN at CityFolk. Photo: Landon Entwistle/Apt613.

What festivalgoers can expect at CityFolk

By Stephane Dubord on September 17, 2021

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While it seemed unlikely just a few months ago, Ottawa will actually host live music festivals in 2021, starting with this weekend’s CityFolk. This somewhat abbreviated edition will feature a single stage over three evenings, and while it may not boast similar quantity to previous years, it certainly is bringing headline quality performers.

Thursday, Sept. 16

Thursday’s launch leaned heavily on R&B and hip hop to get the crowd reacquainted with festival life. Montreal’s Töme kicked off the festivities, fresh off a Juno win for Best Recording of the Year. Her latest EP’s lead single “Champagne” has been featured in numerous tastemaker playlists, continuing the singer’s climb to stardom.

Following those R&B beats was OVO rapper Roy Woods. Bursting onto the scene with his debut collab with Drake, “Drama” set the stage for his continued success, including his most recent single “Touch You” which infuses more The Weeknd-inspired elements to his sound.

Continuing with the Toronto theme, dvsn took over the stage with their slower R&B beats. The duo’s ability to adapt ’70s grooves into modern tracks without losing the nostalgic feel, such as on their hit “I Believe It” featuring rapper Mac Miller, is a testament to their impeccable production techniques.

 

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Capping off the R&B night was Charlotte Day Wilson. Another Torontonian, her breakthrough 2016 hit “Work” introduced us to the singer and multi-instrumentalist, and while she continued to release the occasional single and an EP in 2018, fans were finally graced with a full-length album this past July, featuring notable collaborations with Canadian luminaries Daniel Caesar and BADBADNOTGOOD.

Friday, Sept. 17

Friday’s lineup will crank up the rock. First up are The Command Sisters. Fairly new on the scene, their sound can best be described as Canadian alt-pop that would not be out of place in a playlist with Monowhales and Dear Rouge. Their latest singles have expanded on their sound: “Rain On My Parade” brings a bit of a darker edge, while “Chameleon” demonstrates their versatility, focusing on the sisters’ (yes, they actually are sisters) harmonies over a piano-driven ballad. The duo is sure to win over plenty of fans and will likely be making many return appearances in the years to come.

The Command Sisters will be followed by two veterans of the stage: ’90s CanRock royalty Moist and Our Lady Peace.

 

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What seems like eons ago, both bands dropped by Ottawa pre-pandemic and chatted with us: Moist on their Silver Anniversary tour in November 2019, and Our Lady Peace at the last edition of CityFolk, when they brought their Summersault tour to town in September 2019. We caught up with Moist ahead of their show tonight.

Our Lady Peace has stayed busy as well, recently releasing “Stop Making Stupid People Famous,” which they played at their last CityFolk show. The reworked version released as a single brings in Russian group Pussy Riot, adding a fresh take while still maintaining the OLP sound.

Saturday, Sept. 18

Finally, the genre-selector dial gets turned to country on Saturday, which will feature Sacha, The Reklaws and Dean Brody. Sacha kicks off the evening with a catalog that has grown over the years, including an EP last year (and a few additional fantastic acoustic versions that soon followed), and her latest single “What The Truck,” a collaboration with The Reklaws, to whom she’ll be passing the mic later that evening.

 

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The Reklaws had instant success with their first single in 2017. Since then, each single has made the Top 10 on the country charts, while they’ve appeared across multiple platforms. If you happen to also be a RedBlacks fan, you most definitely would be familiar with them by now, given their relationship with the CFL. Their success has not only garnered them multiple Juno nominations, but in 2020 they became the first country artist to be nominated for Group Of The Year in over 20 years. They then repeated the feat in 2021.

Continuing the collaborative theme, The Reklaws’ biggest hit to date, “Can’t Help Myself,” was released last year with Sunday’s headliner Dean Brody. Over the past decade, Brody has established himself as one of the most successful country artists in Canada, sweeping up a dozen Canadian Country Music Awards and a pair of Junos. His latest release, last year’s Boys, spawned a few more hits, including the aforementioned “Can’t Help Myself,” which set the record for fastest Canadian country song to reach one million streams, as well as the title track and “Canadian Summer,” which likely received many of its millions of streams at cottages across the country.


Keep an eye on Apt613 for more coverage of the music festivals this fall, including our chat with Moist, as well as our preview of Bluesfest weekend.