LIVE REVIEW: RIVERFEST ELORA 2018


RiverFest has grown immensely over the past decade, since its inception as a backyard festival. This year, the tenth instalment brought big names and even bigger crowds to the banks of the Grand River.

Over three days - from August 17th to 19th, The Flaming Lips, Carly Rae Jepsen, Blue Rodeo and July Talk headlined RiverFest '18 alongside 50+ acts from near and far at Elora's picturesque Bissell Park.

Tents were pitched and stages were set ahead of night one's festivities. In true Riverfest tradition, Peter Piper kicked things off on the main stage - as he does every year. On the opening evening of Riverfest '18, Peter's bagpipes were followed by Royal Castles, Wolf Parade and Friday's powerhouse headliners July Talk.

Day two's highlights included a rap battle on the Wax on Wheels stage courtesy of hip-hop group the Sorority and a stellar set from Toronto's fierce rock quartet the Beaches - accompanied by a cardboard cutout of Tony Danza. The Beaches performed radio hits such as "T-Shirt" and "Money" - but the song that stood out most was "Boy Wonder", during which they all took turns shredding solos as the crowd clapped steadily with the beat.

Carly Rae Jepsen "Cut to the Feeling" of pure pop bliss Saturday night on the main stage, singing and dancing along with fans of all ages. Everything about Carly Rae, from her music, personality and stage presence exude an infectious feeling of happiness. Performing upbeat pop bops from Kiss and E·MO·TION, she delivered fan favourites including "Runaway With Me", "I Really Like You" and the undeniably catchy "Call Me Maybe."

There aren't enough words to fully encapsulate a Flaming Lips concert experience. Their live show is just as psychedelic and experimental as their music is. For over three decades, these Oklahoma rockers have wowed crowds across the world - and to cap off night two of RF '18, they blew Elora away with their electric and eccentric set. On the heels of the June release of their Greatest Hits: Volume 1, Coyne and crew crammed as many hit songs as they could into the 90 minutes including "Do You Realize?", "She Don't Use Jelly" and "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1" - just to name a few. Hit songs aside, it is hard to pinpoint a highlight of the Lips' set between their 'F*ck Yeah Elora' balloons, confetti cannons, unicorns, inflatables and Wayne Coyne crowd surfing in a giant hamster ball, but it is certain that this mind-blowing performance was a favourite of many - if not most, in attendance.

Day three's bill was no less impressive than that of the days before it. With notable artists including Carole Pope, Rich Aucoin, The Flatliners and Weaves - just to name a few, RFE offered a variety of performers catered to a wide range of musical tastes. The anticipation for Sunday's headliner - Blue Rodeo, had been building since RiverFest '17 when it was first announced that Canada's own alt-country group would be playing. As the sun set and the end of the festival drew near, the main stage crowd grew quickly as the weekend's final headliners took the stage. The entire performance was well-received and it was evident that - nearly 30 years following its release, "Lost Together" still resonated deeply with Blue Rodeo fans, as the crowd swayed in unison to the ballad beneath the stars.

This annual celebration of music and art sets itself apart from other Ontario events, with a heavy focus on community, sustainability and nature. Along with the best musical lineup, RiverFest offers a diverse collection of art, food trucks, beer and vendors.

This small town festival has everything (and more) than it's big city peers, it keeps getting bigger and better every year - becoming everyone's favourite weekend of the summer. Don't miss RiverFest '19!









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