The Molson Canal Concert Series is much more than just the music.
If Saturday night was any indication, the five-hour outdoor festival is as much about families and friends kicking back with a good book or a couple of beers and enjoying the outdoors.
One of the great aspects of the night was that people could easily appreciate the music without having to devote their complete attention to it. As the night's opening acts filled the canal with the sounds of rock, concertgoers were still able to take advantage of the sunny skies and the relatively cooler temperature.
Little kids made their way to the water's edge to feed the ducks, boats cruised the canal and packs of in-line skaters coasted along the pathways. The smell of summertime celebration dominated the setting, as people munched on staples like fried dough, soft pretzels and hot dogs.
Though all of the opening acts provided a nice soundtrack to the summer day, it appeared as though the canal audience preferred entertaining themselves until headliner Sass Jordan took the stage.
The Canadian Idol judge and singer/songwriter didn't take the stage until about 9:30 p.m., and as dusk settled in, her set was illuminated by the beautifully lighted canalfront.
Her energetic opener had the crowd clapping and singing along, and Jordan filled the stage with plenty of soulful howling and wailing. As she transitioned into "Windin' Me Up," a track off her album "Racine," she danced and moved her way around stage, clearly enjoying the positive audience response.
Although catchy, these upbeat songs weren't Jordan's strongest suit. Instead, it was the slower tunes that really showcased her pipes and her talent. When she treated the crowd to a softer track off her latest release, "Get What you Give," she sounded eerily similar to female rocker Melissa Etheridge. Her gravelly, soulful vocals were powerful throughout her performance, and it was her distinct voice alone that set her apart from any of the musicians that took the stage before her.
Regardless of how she sounded, it seemed as though Jordan really had fun performing for the Canal Series crowd. There was hardly a time between songs in which she wasn't laughing or giggling and pointing out something or someone in the audience. She strongly encouraged the crowd to sing along during a couple of songs, and took delight in sharing stories with them.
"It's so nice to be here," she said. "I love Americans because you guys like music and so do I."
The chatter wasn't deep, but for the free price tag, the concert certainly was cheap, and for many, a relaxing way to spend a Saturday night.