Summer Festivals in Review, pt. 1: Real Love Summer Fest

I hit three camping festivals in Manitoba this summer: Real Love Summer Fest, Winnipeg Folk Festival, and Shine On Festival of Music and Art. I made it to some in the city too, but here I’ll focus on my camping festival experiences.

Real Love Summer Fest

I started my summer with Real Love. It began Friday, June 24, and went until Sunday, June 26, just outside of Gimli, MB. $60 bought me three nights of camping in a well-drained farmers field, nearly 30 hours of music and a comfortable festival experience.

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Mahogany Frog played the best set of my whole life ever (like they do every time) and I smiled more than I had since the start of school that year./Jen Doerksen, taken on an iPhone 5s

This was my second year at Real Love. My first year saw a torrential downpour early Saturday morning that rapidly turned the campground into a mud puddle, sending musicians and campers alike scampering for dry. I arrived on the Saturday morning, and opted to chill in the mud puddle all aft, until we heard music was rescheduled to be in a bar in Gimli.

The organizers were prepared this year. Gilad Caroll assured me they’d been draining the field for a week beforehand. I was prepared too, arriving around 8:00 p.m. on the Friday with two members of Umami. Mahogany Frog played that night.

We busted out the bag of wine and fun ensued. I was pretty exhausted before we arrived, but I smiled through Mahogany Frog’s entire set. Literally. The whole time. My cheeks hurt after.

The rest of the weekend followed suit, mellowing out at some points and picking up again in the evenings. I recall being blown away at some of the talent Real Love Winnipeg brought in.

TOPS was a delight. They’re a Montreal band that plays light, groovy indie rock. If you check out the about page on their website, you’re met with a epilepsy warning. If you click through, you can click through the letters T O P S infinitely in flashing colours. Their airy melodies, smooth vocals and upbeat rhythms really topped off the night Saturday.

Faith Healer was a treat. She’s from Edmonton. My friend Daniel Guezen had really hyped her up for me, and I wasn’t let down when she played. She’s also an indie artist, but she plays on her own and writes a variety of songs. Her simple, stripped down guitar and soothing vocals are entrancing. I could hear traces of punk influence and Brit-pop throughout.

My favourite locals had to be Umami, Animal Teeth and Mulligrub. Oh, and Mahogany Frog of course. The bands I knew I love performed well, and the ones I was just getting acquainted with impressed me too.

The one band I have listened to every single day since is Fox Who Slept The Day Away. I seriously can’t get enough. I would recommend giving them a listen. They’re dreamy, but with a great variety in dynamics and tempo. And their voices lift my spirits until I feel like the ephemeral spirit being I truly am.

Overall, Real Love Winnipeg organized the festival quite well this year. The field stayed dry. The stage area sported one big white top tent that kept everyone dry on Sunday through some light showers. My friends and I brought our blanket and bevvies up to the stage around noon on Saturday, to catch Umami’s set, and were set up for the rest of the day.

Compared to other festivals, it was a fairly calm atmosphere. Groups of friends, all who knew each other in some way or another, sat on blankets and hung out. There were snacks, drinks and some laughs, but it never got too rowdy. I found it quite relaxing.

The music selection was top-notch. I found amazing new music to listen to, while still getting to rock out and enjoy some of my favourite local bands. Hats off to the guys at Real Love Winnipeg for knowing how to put on a good show.

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