That Time Thrush Hermit Sabotaged Their Own Breakout Show

"It's one of those things where people were like, 'What the hell?' and others were like, 'Whoa! Awesome,'" says Joel Plaskett

Thrush Hermit at Edgefest in 1995. Photos: Jannie McInnes

BY Cam LindsayPublished Aug 5, 2020

The third instalment of Edgefest 1995 may have been advertised as Sloan's farewell show, but ask anybody there that day and they'll tell you that the headliners had the show stolen out from under them.

Fellow Haligonians Thrush Hermit were Sloan protégés widely expected to follow in the their footsteps. At the time they were signed to murderecords and had just released their second EP, the Steve Albini-produced The Great Pacific Ocean. It was no surprise that the band were set to play Edgefest alongside their peers. Instead, the surprise came once they began to play.

Forgoing songs from their recent release, Thrush Hermit curiously opted to play an entire set of Steve Miller Band covers. 

"I can't remember specifically, but the train of thought collectively was we were touring a bunch and we were listening to Steve Miller Band's Greatest Hits on cassette a lot. We thought, 'Man, these are the ultimate summertime hits!'" admits former Thrush Hermit singer and guitarist Joel Plaskett. "The joke spread into this thing where all of a sudden we were rehearsing seven Steve Miller songs.

Plaskett and his bandmates knew this was the biggest crowd they'd ever performed in front of, so they wanted to ensure their set would stand out from the other rock-centric acts on the bill. 

"I think with Edgefest, it was a lot of '90s bands in the same genre playing their tunes," he remembers. "We wanted to do something that wasn't a dig at Sloan, but celebrated the day in some fashion that would be remembered, and also complement the fact that this day was for them."

Being a relatively new band to the thousands of onlookers, there was plenty of confusion once the band began playing consecutive Steve Miller songs, but they proceeded to win the crowd over. Still the performance didn't happen without some feeling it was a missed opportunity for Thrush Hermit to promote their own music.

"Having not grown up with Steve Miller Band's music I had no idea what was going on," says Jay Ferguson of Sloan and murderecords. "I remember knowing the first song and thinking it was hilarious that it was a cover, but then the next one and the next one, thinking, 'What the hell are they doing?'"

"My feeling at the time is that I felt pissed that they did it, even though I was having fun," adds Chris Murphy, also of Sloan and murderecords. "I was this label guy, going, 'You know, that's not very cool.' But it was pretty cool. It really went over. It was the most memorable set of all."

For Plaskett, the set was Thrush Hermit doing what they did best: having some fun and putting on a rock show that their fans would always remember. 

"It's one of those things where people were like, 'What the hell?' and others were like, 'Whoa! Awesome!'," he says. "But I've had a lot of people come up to me over the years and go, 'That's what I remember about that day,' which is really, ultimately, the feather in the cap. That people really remember it."

Revisit more highlights from Edgefest '95 with our feature on Sloan's "farewell" set.

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