Buying a ticket for an outdoor festival in Manitoba can be a risky proposition, what with the weather and all.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/8/2016 (1987 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Buying a ticket for an outdoor festival in Manitoba can be a risky proposition, what with the weather and all.

Plunk down $100 or so down and you’re liable to roll craps with some freak storm from the usual summer killjoy, Mother Nature.

Tell that to Winnipeg’s legion of Wilco fans, who last year saw one of those storms crash the Chicago alt-rockers’ set at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

One year later and Wilco was back in the city, headlining Interstellar Rodeo’s Saturday night lineup.

This time, you almost needed a telescope to see a cloud. And those who bet their festival dollar Saturday were big winners.

They responded with a cosmic, 90-minute set that deftly matched the Interstellar Rodeo name, with guitarist Nels Cline squeezing and coaxing many different sounds out of his axes, whether working over the whammy bar or twisting distorted groans out of his amps. Mixed with the background lighting, it wasn’t music from another country, it was from another galaxy.

Singer Jeff Tweedy joined in the crowd-pleasing fun by convincing the Interstellar Rodeo crowd — which separates sitting spectators with standing spectators right down the middle — to find some "common ground" and have everyone standing and clapping.

"Doesn’t that feel better?" he said to big applause from the crowd.

As good as Wilco was, Saturday night’s semi-windup act, Nashville’s Margo Price, was Wilco’s equal.

She’s no new-country poser singing about pickup trucks; instead, she sounded as traditional as you can get, with her Parton-esque voice ringing above her rock-solid, five-piece backing group. Price records for Jack White’s Third Man Records, and the former White Stripes guitarist’s penchant for authenticity is well-known. The result: Price shines with her own material, such as the song This Town Gets Around, and honours the greats she covered Saturday, whether they were George Jones or Neil Young.

As beautiful as the late afternoon and evening was, the day got off to a chilly start, with a blustery wind. But Edmonton’s the Wet Secrets warmed things up with their energetic brand of rock. It’s their costumes — they perform while wearing marching-band uniforms, including the giant hats — that show they have a sense of fun to go with their music.

Some cool guitar and exotic mandolin playing by San Francisco’s Thao Nguyen, who fronts Thao & the Get Down Stay Down highlighted their set, which also ushered out the clouds, warming The Forks up considerably.

Southern Ontario’s the Skydiggers, who have been to Winnipeg countless times during their 25-plus-year history, switched things up considerably, delivering some pleasant harmonies to their considerable mid-afternoon crowd. Singer Andy Maize got into the Olympic spirit by miming the shot put and javelin during instrumental portions, but his duets with fellow vocalist Jessy Bell Smith were more deserving of podium status.

The music got much more gritty when Fantastic Negrito took over with his mixture of blues, psychedelia and hip hop. The singer from Oakland, Calif., employed Black Sabbath-style rhythm, which was a pretty jarring change from the peppy harmonies of the Skydiggers. It proved to be a sign of things to come, as Saturday’s lineup brought a bit of everything to The Forks.

alan.small@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @AlanDSmall

If you value coverage of Manitoba’s arts scene, help us do more.
Your contribution of $10, $25 or more will allow the Free Press to deepen our reporting on theatre, dance, music and galleries while also ensuring the broadest possible audience can access our arts journalism.
BECOME AN ARTS JOURNALISM SUPPORTER Click here to learn more about the project.