Adrian X Main Stage, Guelph ON, July 26

Adrian X Main Stage, Guelph ON, July 26
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
As Grammy-award winning artist Adrian X (real name Adrian Eccleston) and his backing three-piece took to the main stage early Saturday (July 26) afternoon at Hillside, the band looked fairly out of place amongst the hippie-friendly family crowd, what with their all black attire and solid state setups. However, the critically acclaimed session musician — and Drake's current musical director — assured the crowd that their space rock vibes would fit right in.

"People say it reminds them of a movie soundtrack," Eccleston told those in attendance about the band's set, which relied almost in its entirety on his recent instrumental LP, Soulgazer. "It works really well with visuals… edibles."

No kidding. As old men near the front of the stage began stabbing their Phish hands to the tune of Eccleston's pungent production, it was clear that the majority in attendance were either coming down from the previous day's proceedings, or coming up for the night ahead. Eccleston and his band helped them along their ride, playing album cuts like Soulgazer intro "X," the dreamy and dub-y "Soulgazah" and celestial "…Timebomb."

However, it was the band's covers that really sold the eclectic crowd, as Eccleston soloed throughout a pitch perfect rendition of Jimi Hendrix's propulsive "Machine Gun" and Sade's "No Ordinary Love," which was assisted on vocals by the band's female multi-instrumentalist.

Taking a moment to reflect on how far he's come, Eccleston dedicated the band's final song, "Soul Fingaz," to Jacksoul's Haydain Neale, as well as all the other artists who passed on way before their time. Saluting his fellow spiritual soldiers, Eccleston shredded for the remaining five minutes, bending down shirtless to deliver a behind-the-back solo during the set's final seconds. It was this combination of theatricality with honest emotions that made the self-described Soulgazer Collective's performance one that shouldn't have been missed at this year's Hillside.

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