Story by Sarah Deveau
CALGARY, ALBERTA — Day one of the fourth annual X-FEST, a two-day alt-rock outdoor music festival at Historic Fort Calgary, was fittingly kicked off by local band the Wisers.
Long gate lineups meant fans may not have caught the earliest acts, but the small crowd of people who had made it in early on Saturday sang along and enjoyed more elbow room than they would have for the rest of the day. Bad Suns and Sleeper Agent followed, and by the time the Mowgli’s took the stage the audience was primed for the California band’s feel-good love rock.
“It’s the whole working-for-the-weekend thing,” says Mowgli’s lead singer, Katie Earl. “People work all week, they have families and bills, and then they come to a festival and can let go of all of that, and just know they’re going to have a whole day of fun. It’s fun to be a part of that.”
Under a gorgeous blue sky with the occasional cloud providing relief from the sun, fans were spread out on blankets or crammed up against the barricades so that they could get a close-up look at their favourite acts.
Stars and The Airborne Toxic Event seemed to lose a little of the momentum that the Mowgli’s had built up, but the crowd came back when Edmonton hard rockers the Smalls took the stage, reuniting for their first show in 13 years. Fitz and the Tantrums put on a high-energy performance, followed by Death Cab for Cutie.
The sun set just before headliner Jack White hit the stage. His folksy rock was all over the place and the crowd, who had surged the stage for the show, was more muted in their enthusiasm than expected.
X-FEST embodies the best of a rock music festival. Strong acts, local flavour, but with ample space for the 10,000-plus festival-goers.
Sunday’s lineup featured Tegan and Sara, Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant and Serena Ryder. Each year’s lineup has improved on the last, and if this year’s event is any indication, 2015 should have a stellar roster of performers.
MORE ABOUT X-FEST CALGARY
Location: Fort Calgary, Alberta
Tickets: 2014 prices included single-day tickets for $99.99 each and weekend passes for $179.50. More details here.
Attendance: Reports stated there were approximately 14,000 fans per day this year.