CityFolk Day Four: Father John Misty lights up the night

The penultimate day of CityFolk was slated to be a good one. Concert goers were once again blessed with beautiful weather and music that continued well into the night.

At the entrance of the venue, I was greeted with a magnificent farmer’s market. Local vendors sold everything from jewelry and T-shirts to jackets and records. In the far corner, Mill Street Brewery was offering virtual reality tours of their factory, and of course, selling craft beers.

As the shows began, the vibe was tame, but the excitement of the crowd was obvious. The audience was composed of parents and their children, university students, locals and even elderly couples, all eager for a day of music.

CityFolk is a fantastic display of how much Ottawa—a city continuously pegged as boring—truly possesses. People of all ages and walks of life come together alongside famous musicians and various artisanal boutiques. It is a friendly reminder that this city genuinely has loads to offer to anyone willing to explore.

I had very high expectations going into the day, especially after how amazing many of last year’s artists were. The first band I saw was Common Deer, who despite being relatively unknown, stunned the crowd with their harmonic tunes. Inside the cozy Ravenlaw Stage, the laid-back crowd quickly became enthralled with the music.

After Common Deer’s set wrapped up, I bounced back and forth between the indoor and outdoor stage. Acts such as Twain, The Philosopher Kings, Fred Penner, and Royal Canoe all charmed their audience in different ways. As the day progressed, Lansdowne Park slowly began to fill up, and the laid-back atmosphere quickly turned into a more upbeat, dancing crowd.

While I did enjoy the acts, and each performer did impress, overall, I felt incredibly underwhelmed by the music. This is not a jab at the musicians themselves, as they were all extremely talented individuals, but Saturday’s lineup was powerless in comparison to last year.

I was ready to write the day off as fun yet ordinary, until Father John Misty took the stage at 9 p.m. In the minutes leading up his performance, a park that never seemed too busy suddenly became flooded with fans. From the moment he strutted on to the stage, I knew I was in for a fantastic performance.

Dressed like the hipster Jesus we all aspire to be, Father John barely acknowledged the crowd as he belted out his first few songs. He began with a very classic and serious image, but by the third tune he was flinging himself across the stage, dropping to his knees and swinging his microphone like a cowboy. When he did talk—bantering with the crowd or telling quick anecdotes—we all listened.

On top of his incredible musical talent, Father John was fascinating to watch. Despite being hundreds of feet away, you just knew he oozed confidence and coolness, like an older brother you look up to. Everything from his walk to his style, fit a perfectly tailored image of a fascinating, larger than life character.

After his encore, Lansdowne quickly emptied out. Overall, the day was a success, and while I was not particularly impressed with the lineup, the crowds went home happy, and so did I.