“We can’t license the whole area, because, well, then where would people smoke their drugs?” -#HeardAtHillside2012
Music festivals have been the highlights of my summer, and they were all such different experiences that I think I owe it to them to spread the word. My second festival of the summer was Hillside Festival in Guelph. An environmentally-focused festival, Hillside revolves around community, chilling out, and keeping it clean. Easily classified as “modern day Woodstock,” Hillside was an experience like no other, and because you probably haven’t heard of it, I’m going to elaborate.
“And if people are smoking their drugs in licensed areas, just give it to them straight up, with a gentle ‘Man… it’s Hillside.” -#HeardAtHillside2012
Hillside was just so different than any other festival, fair, or otherwise function that I’ve ever seen or heard of. Around every corner was a “trash turnaround,” where you could dispose of your garbage, compost, plastic dishes, and recyclables in brightly labeled separate bins that were emptied frequently and efficiently by some of the incredible Hillside volunteers. The port-a-potties were always clean and aplenty, with hand sanitizer readily available (much to the disdain of the hangover-ridden teenagers in the morning hours). Everything was hand-painted, wooden, bright, and unique! They offered phone charging stations and had people with misting machines walking around cooling people off. During the day, you saw excited weekenders taking advantage of short lines at the liquor ticket booths, and genuine music fans stretched out in front of the four stages around the island, listening to different indie bands, spoken word acts and competitions, and attending some of the many workshops they offered over the weekend.
“The rainbow has always been my favourite color.” -#HeardAtHillside2012
At night, you see people in all levels of incoherence: from tripping hard to tripping over, from throwing up to throwing down, from passed-out-at-10 to up all night. The music finishes out just before midnight, but the party goes all night long in the volunteer village. With about 900 volunteers, the volunteer village is tents on tents on tents of diversity. With students from Guelph, backpacking travelers from all around the world, Hillside veterans and a dozen other groups of randoms all thrown together in a field, it makes for an interesting weekend. The night air is filled with the smoke of a thousand strangers, and drunken tent-whispering in an attempt “TO NOT WAKE UP ANYBODY AND BE THAT ANNOYING LOUD TENT.”
“Do not have sex with unconscious people. Even if they were really, really into you before they passed out.” -#HeardAtHillside2012
While none of the acts were enough to generate insanity as far as excitement for the music was concerned, that was one of the best things about the weekend. Nobody was worried about missing certain bands, arguing over which shows to see, fighting to get to the front of the crowd, or keeping a schedule so you miss NOTHING. It was a weekend of going with the flow, of wandering and checking out bands you had never seen before, or even heard of. It was a weekend of Bombay Bicycle Club, The Jezabels, and Young Empires. Of Joel Plaskett and The Arkells. With some recognizable songs, the crowd was happy, but mostly, the crowd was happy just to enjoy some music.
“[On being a virgin in high school] It’s like…that awkward stage where you’ve seen enough rom-coms, but haven’t had enough boyfriends.” -#HeardAtHillside2012
There were several different spoken word shows over the weekend, and if I gained anything from Hillside, it’s an interest in spoken word. Damn, those people know what they’re doing. From two young guys swimming onstage acting out “two sperm fighting for that final egg”—literally the funniest thing I’ve ever seen—to a mother shouting obscenities while her adorable young daughter plays with a microphone onstage. Below are a few video clips of a “poetry slam” from this year’s Hillside. (Sorry about the random beginning and cutoff, I was working with very little space on my phone and kept running out of storage!)
“We can’t take power out of the room. We can only become accountable to it.” –#HeardAtHillside2012
“I want to glow in the dark to give the moon and stars a night off.” -#HeardAtHillside2012
“Grow large enough for your own life.” -#HeardAtHillside2012
From grinding your own coffee to eating organic lavender ice cream in the sun, Hillside gave you a taste of everything, from parties to serenity, from night to day. From beauty to busy.