Words: Miljan Milekić
Anna Haverstock was the first artist we’re ever seen live in this city. Just two days after moving across the Atlantic and starting a new life, we saw her on the stage of Coorse Event Centre, opening for Winnipeg’s Mobina Galore and legend in her own right, Laura Jane Grace. In the meantime, she went from “an artist I’ve heard of” to “artist I’m a fan of,” so the chance to catch her set again was more than welcome. Especially after a few that we had to cancel last moment, in the last few months.
This show, however, was more than just a show. Pride In A Park, a festival that was part of a much broader event under the Saskatoon Pride 2023 umbrella, and practically an after-party to Saskatoon’s Pride Parade, was a big celebration of life, love, and diversity. Centered about the fight for the rights of people that identify as LGBTQ+ it was a node to everything that their fight has accomplished so far, the progress that’s being made, and more importantly, as a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done.
The festival itself was an explosion of color, with balloons and rainbow flags everywhere, food trucks and beer gardens, an artisan market, and of course, a number of performances. Saskatoon Pride, like any other similar event, however, is more than just entertainment. It is a political gathering, it is a social gathering, and it is a form of activism that is still needed in the global society. It might get to the point of being simply an entertainment event one day, and it indeed will be a happy day, but we’re not yet there.
That being said, it definitely was a fun and entertaining day. After a short opening, and speeches from prominent people from the organization and the LGBTQ+ community, the crowd at Friendship Park was able to see live music, DJs, pole dancing, drag performances, and lots more, all of whom are part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves, and applied to perform through the open call. But, to go back to the point, the main reason we were in front of that stage was Anna Haverstock.
Along with her sister Jill on backing vocals, Haverstock took the stage as the first music performer of the day, and quickly made it her own. Two voices and one guitar quickly filled the open space by the South Saskatchewan River. Switching between quicker and slower songs, older and new, Haverstock was able to line songs such as ‘In My Heart’ and ‘What The Future Holds,’ or an energetic cover of Best Coast’s ‘Crazy For You,’ which “made sense since it’s a hot day.” That wasn’t the only cover song of the day, as the Haverstock sisters wanted to do something special for their mother who was in the crowd, and tossed in John Prine’s ‘Angel From Montgomery’ and Lucinda Williams‘ ‘Greenville,’ with the later seeing Jill taking over main vocals.
The duo clearly had fun on stage, with Anna‘s stage banter being so bad that it’s actually good. But hey, who am I to judge? I grew up listening to Blink-182. She also took the time to thank the sign language interpreters who were switching on stage during the whole show, since she wasn’t aware they will be there, and didn’t provide the lyrics. The set itself came to an end with two of Anna’s own bangers, ‘Tonight,’ and ‘You’re Here For Me,’ wrapping up a 30-something minute of great music for a great cause on a warm, sunny afternoon.