Utopia Music Festival’s second day opened with Kenya Kondo’s catchy, rhythmic, feel-good songs. What I enjoyed most about Kondo’s performance was the passion his voice infused into the music – the occasional throaty growl emphasizing the narrative lyrics.
Next up was Matthew Lindholm – who has also been involved in Edmonton’s theatre scene and now brings his talent to music. Utopia, and the June 11 Edmonton Pride Festival was Lindholm’s musical debut. Lindholm’s rich voice and humble stage presence lend themselves well to the love songs he performed, notably “I’m Your Bitch” – an impossibly catchy bohemian-esque love song. We had an opportunity to ask Lindholm a few questions about his music and upcoming music and theatre projects:
Mark Sheppard provided a change in pace to what I expected to hear at Utopia. Sheppard’s dark dance music was a big (but great) contrast to the festival’s other performers. Sheppard’s music is obviously designed to make you move – I can definitely see many people dancing in bars to songs like “My House”, “On the List”, and “Automatic Weapon”.
Justin Blais, the recent winner of The Bounce Showdown, was next on the set list. While his hit song “Some Kind of Beautiful” may be more appealing to young generations, it sure is catchy. His performance made me wish the 90’s were back, and made me reminisce my youth. His song “You and Me” and the “I love the way you lie” cover he performed were probably the songs I enjoyed the most—Justin has a very pleasant voice. I believe he may have a great future ahead of him. Hopefully he will have an album soon, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one checking it out.
Boy&Gurl – This Calgary duet sure knows how to present themselves. Jarred Nicklen and Crystal McGrath have a great stage presence. It was interesting to see them perform together when even their matching outfits suggesting how they complement each other musicly. Crystal McGrath’s amazing voice was a perfect balance to Nicklen’s tunes.
Souljah Fyah’s reggae music was the type of music I expected to hear when I first heard about Utopia Music Festival. Souljah Fyah performs music you just cannot help but move to. Standout songs were “8 Days of Summer” and “I Wish” from their new album I Wish. Souljah Fyah radiated love, both through their interaction with the audience and the music itself. The crowd absolutely loved Souljah Fyah, getting up and dancing along with the music, raising their hands up, and “sending love” to the world as the performance progressed.
Susie McNeil’s good mood was contagious. I liked the way she interacted with the audience and how much energy she seemed to bring to the stage and to her performance. Of course, it was a must that she performed her song “Believe,” (the Vancouver 2010 theme song) which the audience seemed happy to sing along to.
– Jenna Marynowski and Ana Miranda