CityFolk Day Three: Amanda Marshall lets it rain

The day’s heat was just beginning to break by the time I settled in on the grass of Lansdowne Park, carrying a fresh, mustard-covered soft pretzel and my water bottle. People of all ages and walks of life filtered in and out of the City Stage area where I was stationed to cover the three shows of the night: Son Little, Broken Social Scene, and the headliner, Amanda Marshall.

As I waited for Son Little to kick off the first set of the night to begin, I simply sat and listened to the jazz and blues music filtering out from the stage’s speaker system. It was a perfect night for a music festival and a perfect wrap up to the summer.

After having finished my pretzel snack, I noticed that quite a few people had brought blankets or towels to sit on. I hadn’t thought to, but I had seen a variety of artisan booths on my way to the park area. So, I packed up my deceivingly small drawstring tote bag and headed into the Aberdeen Pavilion to see what I could do about finding a small blanket for myself.

I toured the tables for a few minutes before I ended up settling on an alpaca wool blanket scarf—something that will serve me well in the winter, but for the moment would be perfect to use to mark a space for myself amidst the rapidly growing crowd.

Newly purchased scarf in hand, I headed back out to scout a new spot for myself in time for Son Little. A small crowd had gathered in front of the stage, but I chose to hang back near my original spot to listen to the artist who, admittedly, I knew next to nothing about.

His voice reminded me of Ray Charles, while his music leaned more towards Bruno Mars-style funk. As a fan of both artists, I was happy to have discovered a new one to follow. He finished his set with a song that had a stomp-clap beat reminiscent of old-school blues, and then I was back to listening to the folk music playing in the interim between sets.

The second act, Broken Social Scene, drew a crowd that was larger than the first. I was soon surrounded by new faces, so I moved closer to one of the screens beside the stage. As I watched the performance from there, I took in the sounds of the band whose members had come from others like Metric, Feist, Apostle of Hustle, and so on.

Like Son Little, I didn’t know much about this band, but I was pleasantly surprised by the upbeat, pop-like but still folky sound. Also like Son Little’s set, I came away from Broken Social Scene as a new fan.

As the night went on, I packed up my drawstring tote once more and secured it onto my back so that I could try to find myself a spot right in the middle of the thickening crowd that had drawn to the stage like moths to light.

Amanda Marshall’s set was only minutes away now, and this was one set I wanted to experience head on. I had grown up listening to her music from the back of my parents’ car, and had spent much of my teen years with her greatest hits on repeat on my MP3 player. It seemed only fitting that now as an adult, I would be lucky enough to have a first-hand experience of the music I’d known all my life. I settled for a spot a few rows back from the stage, and waited anxiously with the still-growing crowd for Marshall to arrive.

And then, there she was. Dressed in red, with her trademark hair flowing, she began her set with the energy that fans of hers know and love. She carried on this way through the rest of her set and the crowd, myself included, soaked it all up. As I sang every word to every song along with everyone else in the crowd, I was reminded of all the events in my life that her music had been a part of.

I found myself feeling grateful that her voice, still powerful as ever, had remained unchanged despite the years that had passed since she’d last appeared live. She ended her set with an encore performance of the hit “Let it Rain,” and then, just as quickly as she’d come, she was gone again.

All in all, CityFolk 2017 was everything I’d hoped it would be—relaxed but energetic, peaceful but loud, and most definitely unforgettable.