Hollerado River & Sky, Field ON, July 18
Published Jul 19, 2019As Hollerado's headlining River & Sky set was about to begin, lead guitarist Nixon Boyd sat in a plane unable to land, circling some several thousand feet above the festival in a holding pattern, capping off a festival day impeded by occasional rain and unexpected lineup changes.
Undeterred, his three bandmates started the set without him, joined by Bossie's Anne Douris on keys and Jeff Johnston, of Austin, TX outfit Little Mazarn, on singing saw, starting things off with a hopeful, saw-bolstered rendition of "Thank You (for Sticking Around)" from their 2010 EP Margaritaville 2: The Reckoning. Hollerado have a lot to be thankful for — not only are they months away from capping off a successful run with a smooth retirement, sizable fan base still intact, but drummer Jake Boyd met his now-wife the last time the band played River & Sky — and fate repaid their gratitude with a few more River & Sky miracles.
Had the band not been so open about their predicament, you might have never been able to tell what was going on. Joined by a string of impromptu fill-in guitarists, including Hannah Bussiere Kim of Luna Li, their guitar tech and their sound guy, the band soldiered on through their power-pop hits, exuding the same kind of infectious optimism that has buoyed them throughout their career.
Since forming in 2007, Hollerado have built their brand on making the most out of undesirable situations, from distributing early albums in plastic bags, to recording over 100 tribute songs to fans as a result of a crowdfunding campaign, to even instituting a mental health fund for bands on their record label, Royal Mountain. This late-career set was no different, showing just how effectively they've woven their MO into their performances, even one with as many challenges as this. As they sung on "Pick Me Up," "If I fall back down, you'll pick me up." After years of doing so for their community, their community repaid the favour.
And finally, as the seams were starting to burst when a hapless kid from the crowd tried to stumble his way through the solo of "On My Own," a cab rolled onto the festival grounds and Nixon ran onto the stage, plucking his guitar from the kid's hands and delivering a ripping solo of his own.
With the whole band back together, they ran through hits like "Good Day at the Races" and "Born Yesterday" to a crushing finale of fan favourite "Juliette," which found lead singer Menno Versteeg giving his guitar to the guitar tech (who had long since proven himself a capable fill-in) to pay thanks to the crowd by moshing around, and ending with one last group spit-take.
Despite dealing with a massive setback that would've derailed greener bands, between the band's unwavering optimism, many guest appearances and one miraculous arrival, Hollerado's final River & Sky set was a cosmically fitting culmination of over a decade of spreading positivity and encouragement.