As the sun beat down and the mud dried up (finally), it was obvious that the last day of Hillside was set to continue its legacy of magic, and following an afternoon of killer performances by the likes of Braids, Zeus and spoken word artist Shane Koyzcan, by the time Shad began his performance on the Main Stage at 7, anticipation was at an all-time high for what the evening would bring.
Despite the delayed schedule (and a cancellation by Finley Quaye), true to festival spirit, the crowd remained happy and positive, and as the previous X3 Artist launched into his trademark mix of energy and earnestness, anyone doubting the decision to feature a rap artist at a predominantly folk festival was put to silence.
Entranced from the first beat, festival-goers watched and moved with enthusiasm, raising their hands as Shad took listeners on a lyrical journey that has become his trademark. Joined onstage by Ashleigh Ball of Hey Ocean! for a memorable rendition of Rose Garden, the artist not only showcased a sense of camaraderie with his fellow musicians, but epitomized the true meaning of Hillside: community, friendship and once-in-a-blue-moon festival moments.
His impromptu personality continued to shine as he picked up a guitar and began freestyling, rapping about everything from his instrumental abilities to why the crowd should stick around for closing band, Stars, and proving once more that not only could he sit down to write bankable tracks, but that his quick wit and likeability makes for memorable moments that refuse to be limited to recorded songs. Charming the crowd with his natural charisma, Shad then launched into a dynamic version of Out of Love Pt. 2 after fulfilling his promise to perform a love song (that wasn’t, thankfully, Kiss From a Rose as he first joked).
Bringing new edge to a festival that had already seen a variety of music, the performance of Canada’s current (legitimate) hip-hop darling proved that like its attendees’ taste, Hillside’s lineup is one that boasts musical diversity while reflecting the relevance of current Canadian music – and that despite its folk-music affiliations, the festival understands the wants of young listeners.