Arboretum 2016: Sloan, Fet. Nat and Sloan again


Arboretum‘s Festival Village was in full swing when I showed up Friday night to watch Sloan and Fet.Nat play.

Sloan had the tall order of playing two sets on this night, with Fet.Nat sandwiched in the middle due to METZ having to cancel for reasons out of their control. Sloan were certainly up for the task. Having seen The Tragically Hip the night before it was fun to see another modern day Canadian legend rock the stage.

The band’s first set was playing One Chord to Another, their Juno Award winning third album from 1996 from start to finish. The album  begins with their smash hit “The Good in Everyone,” which is a most excellent way to start a concert. One thing that really impresses me about the boys from Halifax is how they switch instruments and share the role of lead vocals throughout the album, as well as during normal shows. Watching the drummer switch out and take lead vocals and play guitar while the bass player jumps on the drums is pretty impressive. And it is not like the drums beats aren’t that simplistic either. Another highlight of the set was the addition of local brass to the set, with members of Thrust and Kalle Mattson’s band joining Sloan on stage for a couple of tunes.

Fet.Nat being Fet.Nat at Arboretum 2016 in Ottawa.
Fet.Nat being Fet.Nat at Arboretum 2016 in Ottawa.

Up next on this beautiful night lit by the full moon was Fet.Nat from just across the river in Gatineau. People often say a band is unique, but I promise you there is no band on the planet comparable to Fet.Nat. No other act is similar in the slightest. Their saxophone driven explosions, off beat drumming, wild guitar and energetic and animated lead singer combined with singing all their songs in French and waving around signs with lyrics and random statements, is quite a sight to see. Their live performance is part organized chaos, part improvisation and all awesome. Songs like “Vega Paris” and “Caquette” are perfect examples of what I am talking about. Next time you have the chance make sure you check out this genre and mind bending act. I promise you one thing, you most certainly will not be bored.

With the spectacle that was Fet.Nat now complete, it was time for a second dose of Sloan. But before Sloan took to the stage, the MC for the evening shared a great thought. “We are going through a thing nationally right now where we realize that we may have taken some of our great Canadian musicians for granted… best to a appreciate them when they are in front of us and not wait until it’s too late” So true my friend.

The second set was billed as greatest hits and fan requests. Admittedly I didn’t know as many songs from this set as I should have, given I have seen Sloan before and grew up during their take over of Canada. Opening with “Losing California” it was like they never left the stage. Missing from the stage though was drummer Andrew Scott (originally from Ottawa), who we learned was pretty injured and power through the first set like a champ. He mostly sat out the second set replaced by Taylor Knox on the drums. He did come out to play guitar and sing a few songs. Andrew had quite the limp going, what a champ.

The band had loads to choose from for this set, considering they have put out 11 albums and they crammed as much as they could into the hour long set. Chris Murphy was in a playful spirit all night, at one point he said to the screaming crowd: “To hear your request you must scream at the top of your lung in unison  in a high pitch voice.” Later in the set Chris once again took some time to interact with the crowd “Thank you all. This has been fun and a little obscene, we have been playing a long time tonight.” The set obviously included “The Other Man” and “If It Feels Good Do It.” One overarching observation was learning the patented 4 – 4 time Sloan clap which appears to be applicable to almost every song they encouraged us to clap to.