Rock ’n’ roll was alive and kicking Friday night at Mississauga’s Celebration Square, where Canadian bands the Balconies, Topanga, and the headliner, Hollerado, played a free show.

The night started off with the pop and classic rock sound of the Balconies, followed by a breed of punk rock by Topanga before Hollerado took the stage.  The intermissions were equally lively as a DJ spun dance beats, top 40, and rock songs by the VIP booth.

The Balconies may not have had a large crowd, but the band rocked hard nonetheless. Lead singer Jacquie Neville intoxicated the crowd as she danced and thrashed in her leather tights and cowboy boots while hammering away at her electric guitar and filling the Square with her powerful voice. The performance was even haunting when the influence of 1960s–1970s rock bands came through heard in their music, especially in their songs “The Slo” and “Kill Count”.

Topanga put on a more conventional show, mixing vocal ohs, ahs and bada-das with harder rock. However, the band had no shortage of talent, and their guitar solos were solidly executed and entertaining to watch.

Many members of the diverse crowd gathered by the stage to experience the show up close, while some found alternative forms of entertainment at Celebration Square. Many relaxed at the Square’s picnic tables, while others walked the grounds eating crêpes, visiting a truck that was selling cupcakes, and playing on the inflatable jungle gym slide. UTM’s own CFRE Radio and 102.1 the Edge’s Intern Army were also on hand at the show.

Additionally, thanks to Mississauga’s technical team, audience members could also send photos and texts to Celebration Square and have them posted on the two huge flat-screen TVs on either side of the stage. These were nice touches, and it was refreshing to see a revamped and technologically savvy Mississauga.

Hearing the term “free concert”, one might think of more basic, non-flashy entertainment. But when Hollerado came up, they didn’t strip down their typical performance.  The confetti and glowing beach balls still came out and the jokes and stories between songs were at full force.

The do-it-yourself band put out an energetic, positive vibe on stage.  And when their brand-new amp broke down at the beginning of the performance, it only made them play harder. They seemed excited, as did the opening bands, to be in “clean” Mississauga. They jokingly expressed a wish to trade Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, for Mississauga’s mayor, Hazel McCallion.

Highlights of Hollerado’s setlist included “Juliet”, “Americanarama”, “Good Day at the Races”, and “Got to Lose”. The Juno Award nominees also played their newest single, “Lonesome George”, which seems to be about a turtle that dies, and partway through the set they tested out a new song from their upcoming album, due to be released early next year.

When a concert is free, there’s not much one can complain about. But Friday night’s show was certainly more than just good enough. The bands wowed and the Square felt like it was worth every citizen’s penny. May there be many more fun and free concerts in our future.

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