Now in it’s 5th year, Rifflandia Festival which ran September 13th to 16th is but a hop skip and a ferry from us on the West Coast in beautiful Victoria BC.
One of the best parts of traveling there is the Ferry ride over. Especially in the summer.
The Festival has grown to a pleasant size. The beautifully designed festival guide presents a smorgasbord for the music lover from the main stage acts on Royal Athletic Field to smaller shows in the city’s night clubs and more clandestine all ages shows at Wood Hall. Everything from techno to folk music is well represented.
Well attended by the city and those who travel from out of town, the festival draws everyone from the city’s university students to family audiences.
We arrived on the second day of the festival on Friday. First up on the side stage on the Royal Athletic Park grounds we were drawn to the soothing sounds of Brasstronaut. Their latest effort Mean Sun is one of the best under appreciated gems of this year and just as good as the groups previous Polaris nominated album Mt. Chimaera. I don’t mean this in a bad way but the album should be sold to the masses at Starbucks. It has that great early morning soothing affect while raging on caffeine. The group’s ethereal layered sound was a perfect entry point. The weather was beautiful and nothing hurt.
Next up Halifax’s Rich Aucoin kicked things up a notch working the crowd up with his call and response energetic performance. Perhaps because of the distance across this vast country, Rich is under appreciated on the West Coast particularly in Vancouver but this captive audience were quite enthralled.
One of the big headliners, Flaming Lips put on quite the show Friday night as the sun set and are most definitely one of those spectacle bands that everyone must see if only just for Wayne Coyne’s amazing hair, chill bro vibes and their set closer Do You Realize.
Needs, oh Needs, oh Needs. First off, come and see Needs play our Winniecooper.net Olio Showcase on Saturday at The Cobalt. Why? Every time I see Needs I get genuine anxiety and have to move back from the stage. The hardcore group’s front man, Sean Orr puts on a performance that channels the ghost of GG Allin.
Playing at Soprano’s which was the festivals make shift Friday punk show venue. The bar resembled more of a edge of town watering hole than a concert venue yet was contrastingly fitting and intimate for the group opening for White Lung and Fucked Up.
White Lung – Those Girls (Shouts to sole male band member Kenny)
Mid set Orr began hitting at the ceiling tiles above the stage which brought multiple warnings from the venues staff. Riled up by an eager fan who put Orr on his shoulders mid song he again clawed at the ceiling tiles and framework as if trying to escape. The bouncers promptly pulled him off stage where he continued to sing not missing a beat for a good ten seconds before being put him in a choke hold and dragged 30 feet to the entrance while the band kept playing and threw him out of the building. It was a festival highlight.
From a performance perspective it was well worth the ticket price. Did Orr deserve to be choked and left with a bruised trachea? Probably. Come see them Saturday, judge for yourself.
Next off to the contrasting all ages Alix Goolden Hall, a beautiful vaulted church venue to catch Vancouver’s Humans. I arrived early or perhaps things were running late and was very impressed by Rykka who I had never heard of.
Her uplifting electro pop / rock is in the same realm as Austra or Florence and The Machine and she happens to be from Vancouver.
Dear Rykka can we do a show when you are in town asap pls? I can’t find any of her new music on the internet but here is a promo video of her butt for the upcoming album, Kodiak coming out later this year.
Humans we cover way too much so i’m going to keep this brief. It was one of my favorite shows with them and the acoustics of the church were amazing. I challenge anyone to my stake of seeing them the most / super fan dom.
Made it to the end of their set then promptly headed back to my hosts’ house and passed out on two couch cushions with a towel for a blanket.
Wanted to make it to see The Dudes but that didn’t happen because music festivals are not just about the bands but the city, friends, the smell of the sweet air and you the participant and that shouldn’t be forgotten in light of that which is scheduled.
Caught the end of Dan Mangan on the main stage. His West Coast hippies vibes were a perfect match with the festival who also happen to exclusively serve Victoria brewed Phillips Brewery beer. So Islandy. They even have a special Rifflandia beer. mmmmmm.
Canadian 90’s alt rock pioneers Sloan were then up at the side stage. They have die hard fans. They sounded a little “underreheased” but they are Canadian indie legends so that’s ok.
An indie Vancouver lineup ensued at Wood Hall the rehearsal room adjoined to the Alix Goolden Church Hall with Aunts & Uncles, Ruffled Feathers and Jordan Klassen. Aunts & Uncles were delightful, especially drummer Daniel Ruiz’s drum / xylophone duties and singer Joseph Hirabayashi’s vocals.
I think the festivals schedule was a little off by this point or maybe it was my brain but I missed Kids and Explosions who I have been wanting to check out.
Vancouver’s LONGWALKSHORTDOCK was on. He has become quite a big deal on the local summer electronic festival circuit. His sound is rather unique, definitely not fitting in directly with the dubstep or eletro scenes. There’s also a strong dash of heavy metal in the one man show Dave King puts on with his energetic headbanging, hair and outfit. His .mp3’s need to be more available to hackers, he’s one LP away from worldwide domination and has the live show to back it. If you have a chance to see him do.
This is one of his mellow songs because it’s all I have and was sent to me. He probably has more available for purchase on itunes. Yes he does.
Sunday I had to depart early for work responsibilities which turned into an 8hr DJ set at the closing party for the Vancouver Fringe Festival and a 6:30 am bed time. I heard the closing day activities at Royal Athletic Park were stellar. Thank you Rifflandia Festival for an epic weekend. Looking forward to 2013.
words and photos by @tristanorchard