Lydia Ainsworth Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto ON, August 21

Lydia Ainsworth Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto ON, August 21
Photo: Shane Parent
One of the joys of seeing Lydia Ainsworth live is being constantly surprised by what she brings to the stage. As a solo artist who writes and performs every part of her compositions, she could always get up on stage by herself, but she rarely does, opting instead to introduce other musical or visual elements into her live act. Past incarnations have included everything from a live string quartet to a live snake, so when she kicked off her performance at the final day of Camp Wavelength by walking to her keyboard alone, it seemed like she was going fully solo this time.
Not so — after ringing the opening notes to "White Shadows" from her debut LP Right From Real, a masked dancer appeared in the crowd. For a second it was unclear whether this was part of the show or just an overzealous audience member really feeling the vibes, but when a second and then a third dancer appeared, it was clear that Ainsworth had moved beyond the stage and planned something immersive for us.
That thinking-beyond-the-music attitude marked the entire set. There were times when Ainsworth abandoned her keyboard and played to backing tracks, and when flanked by the three dancers, she created a spectacularly engaging visual performance.
This was Ainsworth at her finest, separating the music from the act of playing it, bringing something much larger to the stage. It turned what could've been a routine show into a special, unique occasion, and the audience seemed more than pleased to be part of it.