Hillside Inside Featuring Owen Pallett, Ani Di Franco, Basia Bulat, Bahamas, Hawksley Workman Sleeman Centre, Guelph, ON February 6

Hillside Inside Featuring Owen Pallett, Ani Di Franco, Basia Bulat, Bahamas, Hawksley Workman Sleeman Centre, Guelph, ON February 6
For a music festival, a dreary winter day may be less optimal a condition than the warm summer air, but loyal Hillsiders forgot about the plummeting temperatures and ditched their winter coats for dancing shoes at Hillside Inside, where they did their best to channel that old summer feeling.

Kicking off nearly nine hours of gapless music was Basia Bulat, London, ON's auto-harp playing folk chanteuse. Given her early set time, the crowd was modest but no less enthusiastic than a crowd of thousands would have been, making it clear that her newborn Heart of My Own LP didn't take long to catch on.

Fans forgot about refilling their reusable mugs of beer at the sound of Owen Pallett plucking away on "Keep the Dog Quiet." At last summer's festival, Pallett gave the most memorable performance of the weekend when he defiantly played on through a thunderstorm after being told by stage crews to cut the set short due to lightning. Welcomed back by those he charmed in the rain, Pallett orchestrated Hillside magic once again, but stayed a little drier this time.

As for Hawksley Workman, he stayed true to his fondness for unlikely cover songs, throwing some Cheap Trick into his set after thanking the crowd for keeping him in business.

Up to the task of readying the crowd for Ani Di Franco, Bahamas (aka Afie Jurvanen) took to the Island stage, surrounded by a sea of plaid. Rumours of a guest appearance by Feist, with whom he often collaborates, had buzzed around earlier in the day. And while there was no appearance from the sultry songstress, the show went on just fine without her set of pipes.

Kudos to the Rural Alberta Advantage for their acoustic rendition of "Eye of the Tiger," and to Delhi 2 Dublin for turning the chilly Sleeman Centre into a sweaty dance party before it was even dark outside.

However, the most danceable set of the night came from Woodhands, but not before Ani Di Franco thanked Canada for gay marriage, and played a powerfully inspiring set of both old songs and new at her only Ontario performance. "Let's see if we can turn this dance party into a little jazz club" she quipped before launching into "Imagine That" from 2001's Revelling/Revealing. Whatever you say, queen Ani, a little Hillside jazz club it is.