Live Review: Edmonton Folk Festival Day One ft. Of Monsters and Men + Angus and Julia Stone + More! (06.08.15)

Of Monsters and Men get the crowd clapping as the day's headliners...

The 36th Edmonton Folk Music Festival kicked off today in style, bringing a mix of incredible acts to its suitably relaxed crowd. A four day festival, Day One eased us into the event with a 6pm start and strong line up of acts on just the one stage. Spread out across the grassy natural amphitheater on rugs and chairs, the audience soaked up the phenomenal talents on offer including The Dhuks, Bombino, Angus & Julia Stone and Of Monsters and Men.

One of the earliest acts to take to the stage was Canadian act The Duhks, delivering their innovative blend of folk, French Canadian, Afro-Cuban rhythms, blues and bluegrass. With particularly exciting and playful percussion and violin, this act served as the perfect opener to the event. Following the set, two acts came on stage to play a few songs before Bambino were ready to play as part of the "School of Song" series. Both Doll Sisters and Mohsin Zamon did an impressive job of winning over the crowd in such short time, with Doll Sisters playing a Celtic rock song that the wrote for the festival, “Off the Edge of the Earth”, and Edmonton based Mohsin Zamon wowed the crowd with his moving acoustic folk.

Next up was the highly regarded Bombino, putting on a mesmerising show with his trademark rhythmic and electric guitar. Indeed, watching Omara “Bombino” Moctar perform, it was not only high quality music, but also inspired thought for his heritage and cause as he openly works to proclaim the rights of his Tuareg people, of Niger. After closing to great applause, Edmonton locals Ken Stead and Erin Kay came to the stage to play a short set of their soothing, heartfelt folk. With Ken proclaiming to have only listened to rap music before he attended Edmonton Folk Music Festival, with the event leading to his current chosen genre, they went on to play “Oh Carolina” and the truly tender and moving “Love is Gonna Lead You”.

Maintaining the high level of musicianship on show for Day One were Australia’s own - Angus & Julia Stone. From this set, it was clear that the brother-sister duo’s sound has really evolved since they first made waves back in 2007, with new material from their 2014 self-titled album being edgier, darker and more instrumental. The set kicked off with Julia’s sultry vocals for the heavier, moodier “Death Defying Acts”, to gradually move to the strong “It’s All Okay”, from her 2012 solo album By The Horns. Further into the set the pair lightened up the set with their much loved “Private Lawns” and “Big Jet Plane”, bringing out these older but still as charming as ever tracks to the crowd's absolute delight.

Angus and Julia Stone Setlist:
Death Defying Acts
It Was Blue (Angus Stone)
It's All Okay (Julia Stone)
Crash and Burn
Private Lawns
Little Whiskey
You're the One That I Want (Grease cover)
Big Jet Plane
For You
A Heartbreak
Santa Monica Dream

Closing out the night and headlining Day One were Icelandic indie pop darlings Of Monsters and Men. Their set kicked off with the more rocking, ambient feel, that we find on their new album Beneath The Skin, in the form of "Thousand Eyes" and "Crystals". Though the tracks move away from the upbeat, catchy feel that My Head Is an Animal is famous for, it is a welcome treat live; the new material shines.

The band won the crowd over instantly, bringing them onto their feet as they waved their candles in the air (which is a beautiful sight in the ampitheatre). It helped, too, that this was their first ever visit to the city. They jumped between tracks from both records, sure to please their fans and ended with an encore of "Dirty Paws", never letting up the energy for a minute. Filling our eardrums with... well, a lot of drums, a great deal of bass and good vibes, the band did not disappoint. Not a bad way to kick off what we're expecting to be a pretty special weekend.

Of Monster and Men Setlist:
Thousand Eyes
King and Lionheart
Winter Sound
I of the Storm
Mountain Sound
Wolves Without Teeth
Little Talks
Six Weeks
Dirty Paws

Edmonton Folk Festival continues through the weekend. For more details head to: And stay tuned to the AU review for more exclusive coverage of one of the world's longest running folk festivals...

Photos and some copy by Larry Heath.