MoSo Fest Day Two with Atlas Sound, KEN Mode and Close Talker Various Venues, Saskatoon SK, June 12

MoSo Fest Day Two with Atlas Sound, KEN Mode and Close Talker Various Venues, Saskatoon SK, June 12
Photo: Jacob Morgan
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The second night of MoSo Fest kicked the event into high gear with nearly 30 acts taking over Saskatoon's Broadway area. Despite a cancellation from Toronto singer-songwriter Fiver and an unforeseen scheduling conflict, the quality and variety of artists was top-notch.

Bradford Cox's solo project Atlas Sound — the biggest name on the lineup — proved to be a perfect headliner for a festival that doubles as a technology conference. Audiences breathed a sigh of relief when he made it into town after the MoSo Fest Facebook page announced his set had been pushed back due to a delayed flight.

Alone on stage behind a table bursting with machinery, Cox turned into an alien outsider and favoured expressive vocals over some of the more distinguishable lyrics on his latest record Parallax. "Shelia," from his 2009 album Logos, was a standout and later on he repeated a mantra of "I don't know why" over a jazzy rhythm to great effect.

His set was a continuous flow of psychedelic atmospherics as well as glitchy and primitive beats. Soon, few could remain seated and a dance floor formed in front of the stage at the Broadway Theatre.

The only downside to Atlas Sound's performance was the new timeslot conflicted with blistering Montreal duo Solids, who performed to a packed crowd at Amigos Cantina.

Winnipeg metallic hardcore band KEN Mode sunk the Rock Bottom sports bar straight into the bowels of hell with their 1 a.m. performance. Even though the group was short their regular bassist Andrew LaCour, frontman Jesse Matthewson held his own with a diabolic look in his eyes, gut-wrenching growls and a ferocious sound from his Les Paul guitar. On closer "Never Was" off 2011 album Venerable, Matthewson uttered "religion is a cancer" to his disciples without a trace of irony before jumping into the moshpit and finishing the show among the faithful.

At Amigos, Saskatoon band Close Talker served a decidedly softer brand of rock music. Twin guitars and harmonized vocals made these guys a hometown favourite and definite crowd pleaser. "She's on Fire" put an indie spin on '70s AM radio melodies. If Close Talker play their cards right, they could be the most popular band out of this city since the Sheepdogs.

Some of the earlier local acts were also impressive. Six Moons Later demonstrated that the dream of the aughts is alive in the Prairies. Their sunny brand of lo-fi was reminiscent of initial releases from Best Coast or the Vivian Girls. And when done properly, this style always sounds fresh.

Meanwhile, shoegazers Powder Blue were the perfect opener for Atlas Sound. Their cavernous songs filled the Broadway Theatre and rode out onto the street.

The fact that it was difficult to take in all the good music is a testament to MoSo's emergence as a premier festival on the Canadian circuit.