Arts

The Snotty Nose Rez Kids were the stars of the night. Photo: Scott Penner/CityFolk

Ottawa’s folk festival got sexy and wild on Saturday

CityFolk, if you look at its name, might not seem like the place to go wild on a Saturday night, but it was the hottest place to be in the city this weekend. CityFolk’s Day 3 lineup ranged from sultry soul to high-energy trap, proving that even a folk festival can be sexy. 

The evening was bookended by Canadian alternative R&B artist Rhye and soul singer Leon Bridges. Rhye has one of the smoothest, most downright seductive voices in music but his touring band put the live show above what you can get on the album by going into frequent extended jams. 

Canadian R&B artist Rhye. Photo: Scott Penner/CityFolk

If there was one fault with the show it was the slight strangeness of listening to Rhye in a field with a bunch of strangers — what he’s making is end-of-the-party-but-nobody’s-going-home-alone music. Can an artist seduce you while you’re milling about a field during the daytime? Rhye gave it his best shot. 

Leon Bridges put on a powerful performance to close out City Stage on Saturday night. He brought a ton of soul to the show with a funky backing band and his own dance moves — he was dancing about as much as he was singing. Bridges channels a ton of classic soul and funk energy and the massive audience was with him every step of the way. 

Leon Bridges performs on the City Stage at Lansdowne Park. Photo: Scott Penner/CityFolk

The best act of the night, though, was inside on the smaller Ravenlaw Stage. It’s hard to find a better act on Turtle Island than Snotty Nose Rez Kids, the Haisla hip-hop duo consisting of Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce, with DJ Kokum, who have been making huge waves in recent years. 

They’ve been shortlisted for the Polaris Prize two years in a row (on the strength of only three albums) and have received Juno and Indigenous Music Award nominations. Their songs are filled with humour, protest, righteous anger, and a call for a powerful Indigenous resurgence. But their songs are also just as much a call to go wath’la or “wavy” and just have a great time. 

If the duo’s music is good their shows are on a whole different level. Young D and Yung Trybez go hard both on (and off) the stage. They’re certainly not ones to stand still. They’re not even ones to stay on the stage — stage-diving and rapping with the whole audience in a circle around them are staples of an SNRK show. The duo wants that connection, to be right there with the audience going absolutely insane along with them. 

Audience participation is an important part of any SNRK show, especially ways that engage with the First Nations audience members. When the duo did their banger “Boujee Natives” they called up all the boujee Indigenous peoples in the crowd to dance on stage with them, for instance. 

SNRK is making some of the most socially conscious music in this land but they know how to have a good time too. Before they settled on Traplines for the name of their latest album, they were planning on calling it Rez Bangers and Koolapops and that’s an apt description of their music. 

Their shows are a string of high-energy, non-stop bangers with a ton of cross-cultural appeal. They proved on and off the CityFolk stage that they’re one of the best acts in the country. The two are returning to Ottawa on Nov. 23 and there’s no excuse not to be there.