BeatRoute B.C.’s 2016 Guide to Summer Festivals

Wednesday 01st, June 2016 / 15:27
By Team BeatRoute
Illustration: Danielle Jette

Illustration: Danielle Jette

Motion Notion is one of many festivals to look forward to this summer in beautiful British Columbia.

Motion Notion is one of many festivals to look forward to this summer in beautiful British Columbia.

VANCOUVER — It’s been a rough year for our poor little Canadian dollar. The ways of the world have been at work crushing our funny colourful money into absolute oblivion. Gone are the days of quick trips to Seattle for cheap groceries, nowadays it seems as though a dollar will only get you as far as fifty cents. Are small businesses suffering? Sure. Did you have to cancel that Spring Break trip to Austin? Probably. Is America buying our country for half price? Well I guess you could say that. But the greatest concern on the minds of our nation’s policymakers and economists is this: what will happen to the music festivals?! The Live Nation behemoth Squamish Valley Music Festival shut its doors, Pemberton has Pearl Jam headlining, our worst fears are realized as B.C.’s commercial music industry clamours to pull together an unmanicured patch of dirt on which you can feign enjoyment to a chorus of Pitchfork-approved acts. But don’t let yourself be paralyzed by the fear you’ll have to go an entire summer without wearing branded sunglasses, our summer festival guide is here to remind you that B.C. is home to more than two festivals — we actually have quite a few. Below are the granola gatherings, hometown hoedowns, and multi-day raves you can turn to now that our monopoly money has prevented us from reeling in Kanye, LCD Soundsystem, or Radiohead. Please wear sunscreen, please test your drugs for fentanyl, please don’t sleep with your best friend’s ex, try to behave, we love you, be safe, don’t forget to brush your teeth. (Maya-Roisin Slater)

Music Waste
Vancouver, B.C.
June 2 – 5

Seeking shelter from the annual barrage of extravagant, bro-centric festivals sponsored by purveyors of cars and cell phones? Perplexed by the continued insistence that Muse are an enjoyable headliner? Existing as the proud antithesis of that, Vancouver’s Music Waste, now in it’s 22nd year, is a DIY-focused Music, Art, and Comedy festival boasting over 70 B.C. artists across 14 venues, primarily in East Van. The lineup includes a plethora of beloved locals such as Dada Plan, Jay Arner, and The Courtneys/Peace side project Gum Country. Slide over to your preferred record store to grab a $15 festival pass and dive in. (Willem Thomas)

Pretty Good Not Bad Festival
Victoria, B.C.
June 17 – 19

Pretty Good Not Bad has crept into the Victoria, B.C., summer festival scene with a humble and simple artistic allure that has the full package experience of truly experimental musical endeavours. Peachy fresh and at it with vigor the organizers have personally curated and provided platforms for artists from different mediums to exhibit their works, as well as an immersive atmosphere for attendees to lose themselves in during the weekend of June 17 to 19. Music and sound art, contemporary dance, video and visual, and interactive multimedia are all on the menu for this one. Some must see acts have to be Friday night’s Laurel Halo, a Michigan artist finding balance and atmosphere through her experimentation with electronic music, and Sunday’s Jean-Michel Blais, a Montreal pianist whose fingers run feverishly through the keys with tranquil, flawless delicacy.

With a mandate to “Reimagine our urban environment as activated creative terrain, reframe our collective concept of ‘a performance’ and lastly stimulate and nurture our community’s appetite for ‘the other,’” there isn’t much else festivalgoers could ask for from Pretty Good Not Bad.

Didn’t snag a ticket? Don’t fret just yet, free programming (along with all ages) will be available each day of the festival. (Jamie Goyman)

Victoria Ska and Reggae Festival
Ship Point (Inner Harbour)
June 22 to 26

Now in its 17th year, the Victoria Ska and Reggae Festival is a culturally rich part of the musical fabric on Vancouver Island. The festival fires up to full throttle on Wednesday, June 22 with pioneering Jamaican ska and reggae group Toots and the Maytals headlining the main stage at Ship Point in the Inner Harbour. The heat will continue to build over five days, giving an extra day to savour the spice of an increasingly diverse range of free and ticketed offerings.

Formerly known as Ska Fest, the festival now includes reggae in the title to increase its reach. Founder and artistic director Dane Roberts is educating and nurturing a strong scene of Jamaican-rooted music enthusiasts.

This year’s offerings include international acts such as the Black Seeds, Orquestra Brasileira de Musica Jamaicana (OBMJ), Entangados, DubFx, Mikey Dangerous, and Skarate Kid. The bill will be rounded out by local favourites including, The Party on High Street, The Leg-up Program, Tequila Mocking Bird, and Marafani World Beat.

The festival also includes multimedia art installations by the Rocksteady Collective, burlesque dancing, and interactive workshops.

Since its humble beginnings as a one day event featuring mostly local acts, Ska Fest has grown up yet remains true to its roots in terms of both music and community. “It’s not just about what’s hot lately,” Roberts says. The success of the festival is measured by the growing community of international musicians and music lovers that come together every year. “We create a strong independent scene,” Roberts says. “People like the energy behind it because it has soul.” (Trina McDonald)

Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Vancouver, B.C.
June 24 – July 3

Once more our city comes alive to swing, bop, and rock to the eclectic sounds of world-renowned artists and rising local ensembles for ten days in parks, cathedrals, and concert halls across the Lower Mainland. This year’s line-up is offering a mind-boggling mix of gospel, blues, hip-hop, funk, and pop under the all-encompassing umbrella of jazz music, and will be sure to give even the most-seasoned of festival attendees reason to not miss a single minute of the action. Highlights include former Fugees member Ms. Lauryn Hill, British pop royalty Joe Jackson, masked surf-instro guitar slingers Los Straitjackets, Swedish noise group The Thing, and local legends The Dan Brubeck Quartet. What’s more, while some of the more high-profile acts will set you back a pretty penny, there are more than enough free events to choose from for the more thrifty thrill-seekers among us and who knows, you may just discover your new favourite band in the process. (Bryce Dunn)

Shake! Fest 3
Victoria, B.C.
June 30 – July 2

Third time’s the charm for this fledging garage/punk/psych music meet-up in the Garden City. Victoria has been steadily planting the seeds of its music scene under our noses for some time and the time is now for them to reap what they have sown. When local synth punk vets Timing X, mind-melters Psychosomatic Itch, and rock ‘n’ punk pros Durban Poison join forces with Calgary power pop professionals The Mandates, Van City’s baseball-loving bruisers The Isotopes, and Sackville Nova Scotia’s party garbage punks Astral Gunk, you’ve got no excuse not to hop on the next ferry and get down to the bad sounds these kids have to offer. (Bryce Dunn)

Tall Tree Music Festival
Browns Mountain (Port Renfrew, B.C.)
June 30 – July 3

If you’ve ever wanted to get lost in nature and experience a truly amazing event, Tall Tree Music Festival is your jam. Three days and nights of West Coast vibes set on top of Browns Mountain in Port Renfrew B.C., this marks the festival’s seventh year. Tall Tree has become a nationally acclaimed event, boasting an incredible lineup on four stages with weird and wonderful activities and world-class camping. This year’s lineup includes a wide array of indie acts like Mother Mother, Current Swell, and The Dudes, plus electronic acts like Mat The Alien, Smalltown DJS, Neighbor, Woodhead, and more. Tickets have sold out every year but can still be purchased if you hurry from their website. (Emmalee Brunt)

FVDED in the Park
Holland Park (Surrey, B.C.)
July 3 – 4

As the ever-wise American electronic artist Zhu’s 2014 hit once refrained, “Baby, I’m faded!” In this context, hopefully you’ll be faded too in Surrey’s Holland park, due to a serious case of musical goodness. For the second year in a row Blueprint Events is bringing its electronic and hip-hop music festival, FVDED In the Park, back to the lower mainland. Taking place in early July, expect three stages packed with 38 stellar electronic, hip-hop, and R&B acts. Headlining this summer are Jack U, Zedd, Bryson Tiller, Travis Scott, and Kaytranada. The festival will also include food trucks, art installations, and all-round first rate amenities. The big international names will be sharing the stage with exciting local acts such as Ekali and Tommy Genesis. For Vancouver locals, a hefty perk is the ability to return home after a long day of dancing and prancing. With easy skytrain accessibility, FVDED omits the horror of falling asleep in a filthy dirt pile to a chorus of thousands of strangers manically grinding their teeth. If soaring real estate prices haven’t forced you out of the city already, squish you and your friends in a Car2Go and push that tush to Surrey. Equal parts Supreme snapbacks and fuzzy rave boots, FVDED in the Park is a party for everyone. (Prachi Kamble)

Merritt, B.C.
July 8 – 11

Although it’s still a relatively modest festival (around 3,000 people), Basscoast has solidified its status as a staple of the electronic music scene over the past eight years. Held in the Nicola Valley near Merritt, B.C., the festival hosts more than 100 artists, providing both an opportunity for B.C.’s electronic music aficionados to see their favorite artists as well as a platform for up-and-coming acts to reach an avid audience. This year’s extensive lineup features Avalon Emerson, Todd Edwards, Ivy Lab, Scratch DVA, KAhn Humans, Greazus, Max Ulis, and much, much more.

Affording a more intimate experience than its larger cohorts like Shambhala, Basscoast features three stages replete with audio-visual design by PK Sound, as well as workshops and dozens of art installations. As an added luxury, the event is situated on the banks of the Nicola River, where festival-goers can swim, bathe and even float down to a smaller fourth stage. Anyone who’s been to a multi-day summer music festival for a few days will attest that the benefits of this natural amenity cannot be overstated. (Galen Robinson-Exo)

Vancouver, B.C.
July 9

Combining the key elements of a block party, a music festival, and a riot, Kitsilano’s Khatsahlano (the non-anglicized name of Chief August Jack Khatsahlano, whom the Vancouver neighbourhood is named after) is a frenetic annual street party that stretches ten blocks through the main commercial section of West 4th Avenue. Attendees of the free event can expect dozens of bands, numerous art installations, hundreds of merchants and vendors, an overwhelming food truck selection, and plenty of family-oriented activities. Over 100,000 people find their way to Khatsahlano each year, so leave the vehicle at home (parking is sparse in the area), wear supportive footwear, and psyche yourself up for the inevitable farmer’s tan. (Willem Thomas)

Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Jericho Beach
July 15 – 17

Consistently one of the best utilizations of what the city has to offer, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival rolls out at Jericho Beach Park to show the bounty of international artists what a stellar stage we have in our own backyard. This year the fest hosts local folk and indie heroes like Bruce Cockburn and The New Pornographers as well as international not-to-be-missed acts like Melbourne’s mind bogglingly charismatic Henry Wagons. Always a well curated representation of folk and roots music for a diverse audience, this year the fest expands on its community based approach by offering access to refugees who now call Canada home with the Open Arms Initiative. These special guests will get transport and access to the fest as well as food and souvenirs as a unique and inclusive welcome to their new home. The VFMF continues to be a place for everyone to be themselves and gather together to celebrate genres of music that have always revered exploration and truth. (Jennie Orton)

Motion Notion
Beaverton Lodge (Golden, B.C.)
July 21 to 25

Festival season is looking better than ever for electronic music this summer and Motion Notion’s 2016 lineup is stacked with a diverse roster of beat masters and groove aficionados, all making the pilgrimage to Beaverton Lodge near Golden, B.C. for another successful romp in the Rockies.

MoNo is offering a multi-day boutique festival experience and this year’s lineup is rounded out by acts like Sander Klienenberg, Danny Byrd, Krafty Kuts, Bear Grillz, Longwalkshortdock, Coming Soon!!! and many more.

“We have some of the biggest changes and additions we’ve ever done since moving to B.C.,” says Festival Director Kevin Harper. “It never ceases to amaze me how much creativity Motion Notion brings together – it’s a place with a lot of heart and soul, and I love seeing the human spirit come alive every July out there. I can’t wait to go home again!”

From onsite camping to workshops, vendors and even yoga classes, prepare to get lost and then find yourself all in one weekend. Motion Notion provides a unique and safe experience for all. (Glenn Alderson)

Hiatus Music Festival
The Waldorf (Vancouver, B.C.)
July 29

You’re technically going to be working hard all summer, right? So why not take a break from all that freaky stress and escape to the tropical mayhem that is Hiatus Music Festival. Hosted at the legendary Waldorf Hotel, this one-day multi-arts festival is more like a big kid party than a festival but there’s plenty of festivity to be had.

“Hiatus is about getting away after a lot of hard work, a mid summer hiatus from life to relax and enjoy a full day of fun,” says festival co-founder Jon Campbell. “There’s going to be amazing installations by artists we’ve commissioned. There’s lots of great things to eat and food trucks there too, and some really interesting interactive experiences. All these aspects just go hand-in-hand together at the festival.”

With headlining acts such as Brooklyn-based Bit Funk, Vancouver’s Bear Mountain, Youngblood, Frankie, and Dirty Radio, this is one hiatus you’re going to want to add to your summer calendar of fun. (Andy Adams)

Wells, B.C.
July 29 – Aug. 1

For both performers and attendees, ArtsWells is heralded as one of the richest experiences of music, art, and community among B.C.’s festivals. The historic town which consist of only a few hundred people is transformed into a bohemian rhapsody of thousands as the streets overflow with people taking in the various opportunities at every corner. Art workshops, film screenings, live theatre and, historic site tours compliment the music, which boasts over 100 performances and over 12 stages. It has earned a sacred reputation as a cherished place for all who attend. Once there, come prepared to get lost in its grasp, as if you have stepped back in time or to a parallel artistic universe, all of his is partially attributed to having no cell reception. For even the most phone addicted city folk, it is worth every unplugged moment, guaranteed. (Heather Adamson)

Salmo River Ranch (Nelson, B.C.)
Aug. 5 – 8

For anyone who has felt the Shambhalove, this is an essential festival experience. Over the years since its inception, Shambhala has become the foremost community underground electronic music experience. Many who attend do so while volunteering at one of the vendors or stages. There are even volunteers whose job it is to talk you down from bad trips. This is a place of mutual understanding and swells of music. Don’t miss teenage Edmontonian phenoms Tennyson, the nine tentacled party monster that is Vancouver’s Five Alarm Funk, or the unhinged spectacle that is Los Angeles’s The Gaslamp Killer. (Jennie Orton)

Ponderosa Arts & Music Festival
Rock Creek, B.C.
Aug. 19 – 21

While last year’s wildfires ravaged this southeastern B.C. settlement forcing the fest’s cancellation, organizers Kris Hargrave and Kia Zahrabi vow this year’s event will be a win-win situation for all involved. Boasting such top-notch talent as Black Mountain, The Pack A.D. and Youngblood, swimming & tubing in the town’s namesake waterway, pancake breakfasts and helicopter rides are just some of the attractions waiting for concertgoers this summer. In addition, proceeds from ticket sales go toward Habitat For Humanity SouthEast B.C.’s rebuilding efforts in making Rock Creek a formidable cultural force and travel destination for the concertgoer who seeks a more unique music experience. (Bryce Dunn)

Victoria, B.C.
Sept. 15 – 18

A multi-venue festival with more than 100 performances that take place over the course of four days and nights, Rifflandia transforms the entire city of Victoria into a rollocking gathering of music and art. Having released only two waves of artist announcements for the 2016 run thus far, Rifflandia is already looking exciting with hot ticket items like Jurassic 5, Wolf Parade, and Charles Bradley. Last year the festival cemented a collaboration with Rock the Shores, and now wristbands can be purchased to both as a $225 bundle. Attending the festival is a great way to experience what Victoria has to offer in the venue and nightlife capacity, when smalltown chill-out vibes and big name artists meet, that’s where the magic happens. (Jennie Orton)

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