Events

Supercrawl 2013 in Pictures

All in all, it was another fantastic festival celebrating an amazing city.

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 15, 2013

this article has been updated

Friday

Friday night was cold, but the weather was not enough to keep the crowds away. Thousands of people crowded James Street North to enjoy live music, street performers, food, art exhibits and installations, arts and crafts and - perhaps most important - the awesome vibes of a great city waking up and feeling its strength.

James North is barricaded at King
James North is barricaded at King

Setting up the main stage
Setting up the main stage

Food trucks outside City Centre
Food trucks outside City Centre

More food trucks
More food trucks

One of the coolest art installations was the BGL Carrousel. Designed by the BGL collective - Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère and Niolas Laverdière - the carrousel is a working, human-powered merry-go-round built out of grocery carts, chains, aluminum tubes and a lamppost.

BGL Carrousel
BGL Carrousel

The monthly Art Crawls draw several thousand people to James North. With the street closed and several stages featuring live music, the numbers this Friday must have been much higher.

Crowds by the CBC Hamilton and AGH Annex building
Crowds by the CBC Hamilton and AGH Annex building

James North was crowded
James North was crowded

Mixed Media, James and Cannon
Mixed Media, James and Cannon

Inspirational messages on the fencing at Cannon
Inspirational messages on the fencing at Cannon

Acclamation Bar and Grill
Acclamation Bar and Grill

Mulberry Coffee House and The Brain
Mulberry Coffee House and The Brain

Yet more food trucks
Yet more food trucks

The best way to get around
The best way to get around

In front of the Armouries
In front of the Armouries

The crowds just kept building all evening
The crowds just kept building all evening

Dancing in the streets
Dancing in the streets

Big crowds everywhere
Big crowds everywhere

I didn't make it to as many concerts this year as I did last year, but Wintersleep played a great show on the Colbourne stage.

Wintersleep at the Colbourne stage
Wintersleep at the Colbourne stage

Saturday

Saturday was beautiful: blue sky, warm sun and fresh air. The organizers couldn't have asked for better mid-September weather, especially after how volatile temperatures were last week.

Art and murals at the Tivoli
Art and murals at the Tivoli

It didn't take long for the crowds to start growing in early afternoon.

Artisan tents
Artisan tents

A harpist performed in a spot of shade
A harpist performed in a spot of shade

Innovation was the order of the day at Supercrawl. One vendor used a cordless drill to spiral-cut potatoes onto skewers and serve them french-fried with a selection of flavoured ketchups, including dill pickle ketchup and bacon ketchup.

Ketchups and Twisted Potatoes
Ketchups and Twisted Potatoes

Street filled in front of Morganstern's
Street filled in front of Morganstern's

These Lil Eco mini-cars scooted down the street
These Lil Eco mini-cars scooted down the street

Hamilton's Basking Shark played a lovely Irish jig
Hamilton's Basking Shark played a lovely Irish jig

Easiest pay duty ever: Hamilton mounted police maintaining order
Easiest pay duty ever: Hamilton mounted police maintaining order

This year, Supercrawl extended west on York and east on Wilson. Part of the design of the York Streetscape Master Plan was to make it easier to close for special events, so it was nice to see it used for some wonderful family activities.

Children helped build a city
Children helped build a city

Art tapestries hung from the pedestrian overpass connecting the old Eaton's Parkade with City Centre
Art tapestries hung from the pedestrian overpass connecting the old Eaton's Parkade with City Centre

Hamilton blues master Steve Strongman played a fantastic set on the Main stage
Hamilton blues master Steve Strongman played a fantastic set on the Main stage

Artist Kiki LeFont painted a sidewalk mural outside Homegrown Hamilton on King William
Artist Kiki LeFont painted a sidewalk mural outside Homegrown Hamilton on King William

The crowds continued to build over the afternoon
The crowds continued to build over the afternoon

Downtown Hamilton felt wonderfully alive
Downtown Hamilton felt wonderfully alive

At Supercrawl 2012, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra played an awkward set with beat poet CR Avery, whose posturing and hostile attitude were off-putting, so I was surprised to learn the HPO was trying it again this year.

Fortunately, they chose to collaborate with Hamilton beatbox Hachey the Mouthpeace, whose talent was matched by his kindly stage presence. Hachey was joined on stage by the HPO Brass Quintet, and they performed some inspired covers of Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and Radiohead.

Hachey the Mouthpeace and the HPO Brass Quintet
Hachey the Mouthpeace and the HPO Brass Quintet

One vendor sold bubble guns, and clouds of bubbles floated over the street all afternoon.

Bubbles
Bubbles

I never did find out what this scaffolding on the roof of Mixed Media was for.

Scaffolding over Mixed Media
Scaffolding over Mixed Media

Cannon Street was a ribbon of awful bisecting the festival. Fortunately, it was down to two lanes across James so the cross-traffic didn't feel quite as oppressive as usual. Also, even with the lane restrictions it was free-flowing, which should reassure anyone who is worried about the planned installation of protected bike lanes on Cannon.

Cannon Street
Cannon Street

The No Downtown Casino committee had a lively booth with volunteers asking people to sign a petition against a downtown Hamilton casino. Council kinda-sorta voted against a downtown location earlier this year, but in Hamilton, no contentious issue is over until it's over - and even then it's still not over. Good on the CasiNO folks for keeping this in play.

CasiNO!
CasiNO!

If you didn't make it to Supercrawl this weekend, it may be hard to appreciate just how many people were everywhere up and down the street. There were at least several thousand on Friday night, and there had to be many tens of thousands on Saturday. I look forward to the official estimates.

People everywhere
People everywhere

When CBC moved to Hamilton to open a new digital service, they couldn't have picked a better spot than the gorgeous restored building on James across from Vine Street. They were in the centre of it all this weekend, and were obviously having a great time of it.

CBC Hamilton
CBC Hamilton

There were lots of bicycles at Supercrawl, each one an anecdote of the new urban, human-friendly culture taking root in our city.

Bicycles
Bicycles

One of the best indicators of a city's bicycle-friendliness is its gender breakdown of cyclists. In bicycle-unfriendly cities, the overwhelming majority of cyclists are male - particularly young, risk-seeking males. In contrast, a city in which a young woman feels comfortable cycling in a skirt is a city where cycling is starting to become normalized.

Woman cycling
Woman cycling

On Wilson Street, acrobats did flips on a pair of trampolines while Allegories (Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell, formerly of The Rest) played a haunting, melancholy set at the Dr Disc stage.

Trampoline
Trampoline

I'm a huge Said the Whale fan, and they played a fantastic set on the main stage for their third Supercrawl performance.

Said the Whale
Said the Whale

When James Street North was converted to two-way in 2002, critics claimed that it would be the death-knell of a street that was hanging on by its fingernails. Two-way traffic would simultaneously cause gridlock and finally drive everyone away from the street. I'm reminded of the Yogi Berra malaprop: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

We finally saw some of the gridlock we were warned about all those years ago: there were so many people on the street that it was actually hard to make progress in any direction.

Finally, some gridlock on James North
Finally, some gridlock on James North

The food trucks must have made a killing
The food trucks must have made a killing

Paintings, posters and messages covered the wall in front of the empty lot next to Acclamation Bar and Grill. A new condo development, Acclamation Lofts, is planned for construction in 2014.

Messages on the wall
Messages on the wall

On the Colbourne stage, Chelsea Light Moving frontman Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth fame) started the set not with, like, a song but rather with an extended bout of exposition. Those alternative rock icons, always subverting our expectations.

Chelsea Light Moving
Chelsea Light Moving

Did I mention there were lots of people? Seriously, there were tons of people everywhere

Tons of people everywhere
Tons of people everywhere

So many people
So many people

The moon and the Circus Orange crane overhung the street, seen here behind the Tivoli.

Moon and crane
Moon and crane

On the Dr Disc stage, the Ascot Royals played a lively, upbeat show.

Ascot Royals
Ascot Royals

After they finished their set, the Circus Orange performance began. Unfortunately, this is where my camera battery died so I can't share any photos, but they really cranked up the superlatives after last year's beautiful aerial acrobatics show.

I'm actually reluctant to go into any detail about the performance, which was as head-scratchingly random as it was staggeringly entertaining. I'm trying to imagine how the writing process went: "All I know is, it's gotta have bagpipes. And a helicopter. Oh, and a flamethrower!" If you saw it, you will know what I mean. If not, you should really arrange to be there next year.

Sadly, we had to supercrawl our way home partway through Yo La Tengo, and so we missed Passion Pit. But all in all, it was another fantastic two-day festival celebrating an amazing city. Every year, Supercrawl brings me to fall in love with Hamilton all over again.

See also:


Update: thanks to intrepid Supercrawlers Sue Yarwood and Anita Thomas, we have some fantastic photographs of Saturday night's Circus Orange performance!

Opera singer, helicopter and fireworks (Image Credit: Sue Yarwood)
Opera singer, helicopter and fireworks (Image Credit: Sue Yarwood)

Fire fingers (Image Credit: Anita Thomas)
Fire fingers (Image Credit: Anita Thomas)

Bagpipes (Image Credit: Anita Thomas)
Bagpipes (Image Credit: Anita Thomas)

Helicopter (Image Credit: Anita Thomas)
Helicopter (Image Credit: Anita Thomas)

Flamethrower and trampolinist (Image Credit: Anita Thomas)
Flamethrower and trampolinist (Image Credit: Anita Thomas)

Big thanks to Yarwood and Thomas for sharing these great shots!

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

28 Comments

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 04:56:36

Another great ego boost for the city of Hamilton. Thanks for the tour.

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By seriously addicted to Hamilton (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 07:38:51

Can't agree more about how amazing Supercrawl was! The galleries were full and conversations sprang up between complete strangers.I realize that we missed a couple of things by not exploring York street....From a music perspectve, Joel Plaskett Emergency was fabulous and in typical east coast style made sure the audience had its role to play.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 08:50:06

Supercrawl was truly amazing, your 1 picture of the Police presence there does not really do it justice, It's safe to say that the uniformed presence was only half of what was actually there. I for one saw nothing that remotely resembled crime. Hopefully we can get ourselves to a point where off duty officers are not the main benefactors of the organizers hard work and success.

It'd be very interesting to see the arrest figures, it's safe to assume they would tell the real story.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 10:38:46 in reply to Comment 92165

Overheard one of the organizers saying one officer even cancelled a vacation to work Supercrawl because it's so lucrative for them. Seems to me that one of the best ways the city could support Supercrawl would be to absorb some of the policing costs. It's all coming out of the same pot anyway.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 11:53:28 in reply to Comment 92166

I overheard a sergeant (supervisor) directing a group of plainclothes officers that ANY infraction should result in arrest. This is simply an attempt to 'ramp up' the arrest figures and thereby define Supercrawl 'rowdy' event requiring MORE police next year.
The interesting comparison is Kensington's Pedestrian Sundays in Toronto, the police there have a pretty much hands off attitude to 'victimless' crimes, to the point where once I was asked to cross the road and use an alley on the other side, since the wind was blowing in that direction.

It's amazing these guys are always sick for their disciplinary hearings but somehow manage to pull themselves off their deathbeds for paid duty.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2013 at 12:02:25 in reply to Comment 92169

Apparently there were literally zero incidents in 2012. You'd think the guardians of law and order would consider that a Good Thing.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 12:18:16 in reply to Comment 92171

It's not good if it isn't profitable. Jeez Ryan. Haven't A Smith and Capitalist taught you anything?

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By Maybe (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 18:23:01 in reply to Comment 92172

Maybe the cops could be a Supercrawl sponsor next year and provide their services for free. GFL did an awesome job with waste management at the fest this year making the City's efforts from the past look as embarrassing as they were. Now, if only someone could provide some recycling and green waste options in 2014.
P.S. How come the poop and scoop by-law doesn't apply to our mounted patrol? It's really unfair that volunteers need to step in to clean up after them. I saw a young girl in volunteer blue shovelling up a pile last night as people stepped around it. She was definitely working harder than the boys in blue.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 21:05:51 in reply to Comment 92179

I have a solution for your poop and scoop problem. Suffice to say the officers suspended with pay will not be happy with the solution.

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By Maybe (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 21:14:50 in reply to Comment 92182

LOL.
Love it.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 10:41:58

Innovation was the order of the day at Supercrawl. One vendor used a cordless drill to spiral-cut potatoes onto skewers and serve them french-fried with a selection of flavoured ketchups, including dill pickle ketchup and bacon ketchup.

Mobile deep-fried foods are the new steel.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2013 at 08:23:51 in reply to Comment 92167

Incredibly, there were actually *two* vendors selling spiral-cut "tornado potatoes" made using power drills, located at different ends of the festival strip. The southernmost one was Texas Tornado (a crowd favourite at Sew Hungry, Ancaster Ribfest and Festival of Friends), located under the City Centre sign. TT featured five different seasonings (Dill Pickle, Wild Buffalo Sour Cream & Onion, Salt and Vinegar, and plain old Sea Salt) as well as the "Twister Dog", a same-stick marriage of hot dog and tornado potato. Didn't see a lot of those crawling around, but then again it probably lends itself to stationary consumption.

www.tornadopotatocutter.com
www.ribbonfries.biz

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2013 at 11:27:25

Great summary of Friday night and Saturday Ryan. I had the largest single day attendance at HIStory + HERitage in the 6 years I've been open. On Saturday, I had over 2500 people through the place. Unbelievable. Friday night was good for another 800-1000.

Oh, did I mention you didn't come in to see your old friend Graham. No worries. It's the thoughtlessness that counts. :)

Thanks for the story. It was another great day in The New Hamilton.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2013 at 12:00:32 in reply to Comment 92168

Haha! I tried, but very time I walked past, you were surrounded by people.

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By aynomous (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 12:44:54

that metal atop mixed media? its art dude, it doesn't have to be for anything.

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By Today (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 14:42:13

Thanks to all who volunteered and organized this wonderful event. I especially loved the Pier 8 venue, excellent, lots of room and not crowded. We went down to see Jacob Moon but ended up staying all evening and glad we did as Lee Harvey Osmond was awesome. We just didn't want to get involved with the large crowds and a tight space along James St. N on Saturday night. Friday night was fine with a smaller crowd, enjoyed Wintersleep and Young Galaxy, the two bands we saw play.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2013 at 16:11:32

Couldn't do the whole crawl, but slipped out of the house for an early dinner at My Thai, a coffee at Mazza Cafe, and caught Joel Plaskett, who put on a great show as usual!

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By TomL (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 18:59:20

Graham, lots of people loved the postcards, but the H+H layout gets a bit cramped with people trying to watch multiple screens. For big events like this, maybe you should get a hugescreen TV, put it in the front window facing the street, and play all the postcards in a single repeating show.

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By TomL (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 19:00:46 in reply to Comment 92180

Sorry, this was in reply to H+H's comment

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted September 15, 2013 at 22:15:34

The buildings along James look fantastic in the late-afternoon autumn light. What a great streetscape. These photos should be used as an example of the beautiful result of re-use of heritage spaces.

P.S. Love the mounted unit. Anyone who has hung out with horses in the past knows that these horses are great examples of their species -- mild-mannered, bomb-proof and very well-trained. No harm in their poop either, it's just chewed-up grass and oats. Can't we all just get along?

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By Like It (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2013 at 11:00:07

It is a neat idea, Super Crawl, and a phenomenal success. The sad thing is it sucks up the entire year of life and possibly budget in one weekend. The people of Barton to Murray got screwed. Also, you can find events like this going on all the time in other cities. Any given weekend in Toronto this just pops up organically. Walk down St. Deny in Montreal any time of year and it is like this. Hamilton, like everything else Hamilton, is pushing uphill in their goal for culture.

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By supercrawl2013 (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2013 at 14:59:57 in reply to Comment 92199

Just to set the record straight, Supercrawl was not allowed to go further than Barton. This was because of the bridge construction on Bay Street. It was a city stipulation we had to agree to. Next year we hope to have the festival back as far as Murray - and hopefully farther than that.

Thanks!

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By Yup (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2013 at 13:08:47 in reply to Comment 92199

Yeah - When I think of Toronto, I think organic urban experiences (TM). You have a point with Montreal, but you can't put Toronto in the same category (as much as they want to be).

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By Jim Street (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2013 at 13:03:40

ahem ^ - this does happen organically every month. It's called the James North Art Crawl. Second Friday of every month. Watch the street come alive collectively. 8 years and counting!

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By TnT (registered) | Posted September 17, 2013 at 01:09:07 in reply to Comment 92208

I agree. Except for sharing a street Art Crawl and Super Crawl are different entities.

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By rayfullerton (registered) | Posted September 16, 2013 at 13:37:50

Thanks for the memories!! well done..

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted September 16, 2013 at 14:12:33

Happy to have hosted a group of out-of-towners for the big weekend, and fun was had by all. Downtown Hamilton really put on a show, and was really impressive to my visitors from Ottawa, KW, Barrie & Toronto (save for the way-too-crowded sections of James on Saturday night). Wish we got a chance to show them the waterfront, but between all the shows, food & art on James N., there was hardly any opportunity!

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By Crap (anonymous) | Posted September 19, 2013 at 10:53:59

Did I really just see a few people complaning James Street was too busy. I really hope it was sarcasm.

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