By Maya-Roisin Slater
July 16-19, 2015
VANCOUVER — My Pemberton Music Festival started with a hike up a fairly steep mulch road, which, when combined with a trolley full of camping gear, made for an almost impossible trek. Within 10 minutes of this journey I saw a girl abandon her H20 supply by the side of the road and begin to cry. As I struggled to keep the wheels of my trolley unstuck in the mulch, it seemed incredible to me that nobody had thought about putting some temporary plastic mats down to assist campers.
The festival’s security was plentiful, but not intimidating. Entering the grounds on one occasion, carrying a large backpack that could have been filled with anything, I was told by the security guard at the gate, “I don’t even want to know what’s in there.” This made it easy for people to sneak in pills, potions and inflatable tootsie rolls. I ran into a person who found a bag of pills on the ground, and when he had them tested at the Safe Haven tent discovered what he picked up was bath salts. While in line for a taco truck I stood behind a girl so high she couldn’t open her eyes while she aggressively inquired about dairy-free options. Nobody was turning down at Pemberton.
Over the course of three days I saw people strip down to primal versions of humanity. I spoke with a photographer who while on his way to shoot a show stopped to take a quick pee along one of the back entrances, and was promptly pushed into a ravine by four guys with all his gear. During the Kendrick Lamar show on Sunday night I saw a man choke someone out for trying to budge in front of him. Was there anything the festival organizers could have done to prevent this? They could have hired more aggressive security to control the level of belligerent people I suppose. The RCMP could have ticketed young kids smoking weed on their first trip away from home. This might have lessened the extremes to which people were allowed to take things but it would have only fostered a hostile environment. Huka Entertainment couldn’t babysit 100,000 people, they couldn’t tell them to shut up and listen to the artists performing at the top of their game all around them, they couldn’t tell them to take Vitamin C and drink water. It was an absolute shit show, but I suppose that’s what music festivals are.
Here were some of the musical highlights:
• Charles Bradley literally made people in the audience cry, and I was almost there with them. He was honest and present in a very special way you don’t often see in live performances. His hype man described him as the Casanova of love, and I was ready to write valentines.
• The bass during Chromeo was so loud it was physically hard to breath, I imagine Tiesto hearing it in a far off green room and shaking in his boots. It was an hour and a half of lighthearted fun. Every single instrument was plated in chrome. Nobody was standing still.
• Eric Andre pulled an audience member on stage just to have her sit in a chair so he could interrogate her about which parent she would rather fuck while rubbing his moist microphone up and down her cheek. I was laughing almost as much as I was sweating.
• From the moment Kendrick Lamar hit that stage, he was able to wrap 100,000 people around his finger, and keep them there for the duration of the set. It was beautiful to hear so many voices singing “I love myself” and “We gon’ be alright,” positive affirmations many in that audience had probably never said before, and really needed to. It was stunning and captivating.BC, British Columbia, Charles Bradley, Chromeo, Eric Andre, Kendrick Lamar, Pemberton 2015, Pemberton Music Festival