Local, Reviews

Interstellar Rodeo Winnipeg


Just be awesome. That was the motto for the Interstellar Rodeo weekend music festival held at The Forks, August 14-16. The inaugural festival hosted many talented musicians ranging from Hawksley Workman, Polaris Prize winner Tanya Tagaq, Sarah McLachlan; Dwight Yoakam,  Blue Rodeo, JD & The Sunshine Band, Vance Joy and much more. The weather was fantastic (with the exception to rain on Saturday), and the venue was the perfect setting. Interstellar also took a very unique approach to the typical music festival by pairing selected wines with each performer. This new addition was wildly accepted by attendees as the beverage tent saw long lines throughout the weekend festivities.

I was fortunate enough to receive tickets for the Friday lineup. Sinead O’Connor was slated to close that set; however, she cancelled due to illness. Juno and Grammy Award winning singer Sarah McLaughlin happily took her place and closed out such a lovely evening. My friend Vanessa was my guest for the evening and it was nice to get out of the house and celebrate an evening of music with her.

It was hot. Hot and humid. Although the weather was a little sticky for a while, we had a lot of fun. We were able to find a good spot to watch the shows, enjoyed some pizza from A Little Pizza Heaven food truck, and relaxed.

I picked the Friday night lineup because of Sinead. When she cancelled, I was a little disappointed. Upon hearing her replacement would be Sarah, I was thrilled. I have always wanted to see Sarah in concert; the remainder of the lineup was another reason for choosing that evening. It started with Hawksley Workman, best known for his hit singles “Jealous of your Cigarette” and “Smoke Baby”. Workman’s hour-long set was filled with hits from his numerous albums, including his latest, Old Cheetah; ending his set with the 2003 Juno nominated song “Smoke Baby”. Workman changed instruments, dazzling the crowd with an  incredible drum performance.

2014 Polaris Music Prize winner Tanya Tagaq was next, providing an hour long freestyle set. For those not familiar with Tagaq, I highly suggest that you Google her. This was my second time seeing Tanya perform (first at RWBs Going Home Star: Truth & Reconciliation) and I am absolutely in awe of her raw and unique talent. An accomplished Inuit throat singer, Tagaq takes her talent and makes it her own with a distinct visceral sound.

Winnipegger Scott Nolan played a 15 minute set before Sarah McLachlan took the stage. Nolan can be described as an indie folk-like singer and discussed a recent Twitter post by Canadian musician Raffi and his message to Prime Minister Harper.

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McLachlan’s set began shortly after 8:30PM, joined by former band-mates & co-writers Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet, who now form the duo Whitehorse. Sarah began with my favourite, “Possession”. For those who are not familiar with the song,  it was written based on McLachlan’s personal experience with two crazed fans. After the song, she talked about how her fans have told her that they dance to it at their weddings and how she finds it a little (humorously) weird, especially since it’s about a stalker. Sarah covered all of her hits – Possession, Angel, Into the Fire, Building A Mystery; World on Fire, I Will Remember You, Ice Cream, and Sweet Surrender. After talking about Sinead O’Connor and how they toured together during Lilith Fair (including a pregnancy rumor started by Sinead), McLachlan broke out into Nothing Compares 2U, O’Connors’ 1989 hit song. Sarah serenaded the crowd with new songs – In Your Shoes, Monsters, Beautiful Girl, The Sound that Love Makes and Song For my Father, a song she wrote for her dad after he passed away in 2010.

Interstellar Rodeo was an amazing way to celebrate music and enjoy an incredible weekend. I highly recommend attending if they come to your town. If Interstellar returns to Winnipeg next year, you can bet that I will be purchasing a weekend pass. Talented artists, an assortment of food trucks, and an incredible location made this summer weekend perfect to celebrate something that brings everyone together – a love for good music.


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