​Casper Skulls Main Stage, Field ON, July 22

​Casper Skulls Main Stage, Field ON, July 22
Photo: Stephen McGill

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There would be no Casper Skulls if not for River & Sky — lead singers Melanie St-Pierre and Neil Bednis began dating at the fest in 2011, an event that has quickly become festival lore. For their sixth anniversary, the pair brought their band (also including bassist Fraser McClean and drummer Chris Anthony) to where it all began to showcase tunes from last year's Lips and Skull EP and to preview tracks from their forthcoming debut album, due later this year.
 
Pavement's influence pervaded early numbers, but the band's main musical touchstone is Sonic Youth, demonstrated especially by the interplay between St-Pierre's airy singing and Bednis' harsher, spoken delivery. Days earlier, Casper Skulls opened for ex-Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore in Toronto, and were clearly still riding off the high of sharing a stage with a major idol and influence. Between their homecoming to the fest and the band's fiercely rising profile, they displayed major gratitude — and what better way to show it than by delivering a killer set?
 
That's exactly what they did; with a post-punk sound both furious and melodic, the band delivered an engaging set that delivered plenty of hooks without sacrificing more experimental leanings. Live renditions of EP tracks like "Devotion" and "Lips & Skull" amped up the fuzz while retaining their studio precision, and songs from their upcoming album are poised to rock even harder. If this is how they're celebrating now, things will surely only get better once their LP blows up. We're ready for it.