Colin Stetson Island Stage, Guelph ON, July 28

Colin Stetson Island Stage, Guelph ON, July 28
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
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Stepping on to the Island Stage armed with a pair of saxophones, Colin Stetson gave no indication of what was about to transpire. But from the moment he picked up the smaller of the two instruments and started in on "Among the Sef," a rapt crowd stared back at the stage in awe. Transfixed by the undeniably impressive musician, the audience exploded into applause after the first song, loosening up and trying to move in time with "Judges." Stetson remained stoic onstage throughout, obviously devoting all of his energy to making his massive, century-old saxophone do things that no one though a sax could do.

From electric guitar-esque screeches to the rumbling low notes (as well as producing percussion from the same instrument) Stetson demonstrated just how inventive a performer he is. The live renditions easily surpassed the time they take up on record, and watching Stetson go as long as he does without stopping is both mystifying and exhausting. Only delivering a handful of songs due to time restraints, Stetson skipped over the lonely whale story (type it into your "google box," as he said) that inspired the gorgeous and gaping "High Above a Grey Green Sea," but nevertheless managed to slacken the jaws of the audience with the beautiful piece.

Check out our gallery of photos from Hillside 2013 here.