by Jeevin Johal
VANCOUVER – An epidemic is cancerously spreading throughout British Columbia taking out music festivals in its path. Though MRG Concerts has concocted the antidote to this destructive dilemma in the form of this year’s first annual, Westward Music Festival. Ditching the traditional festival platform that brings fans to an iconic outdoor location with multiple stages, Westward spans across four venues in Vancouver, showcasing a diverse lineup of internationally renowned stars, and a handful of hometown heroes. Grab a ticket to a single show, or hop on your bike and rip around town to see how many artists you can check off your list in one evening.
At only 23 years old, Vince Staples is already one of the hottest rapper’s in the game. Having buddied up with the Odd Future camp a few years back, he quickly flew under the radar of some of the world’s biggest names and has since collaborated with artists like Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, and the Gorillaz. But make no mistake, Staples holds his own. On his latest release Big Fish Theory, Staples reflects on his fears of a dystopian America over abstract, genre melding beats, proving that he isn’t just some naive kid, but rather an observant lyricist with a sharp tongue.
Colourful bubblegum pop is torn to shreds by singer Allie Sheldan whose vocals dance between the dark and divine. Band members Chris and Michael Weiss complicate seemingly simple electronic melodies with dirty synths and crunchy, punishing drum beats. There is a distinct battle between good and evil in the songs of Little Destroyer but both paths inevitably end in a high octane-fuelled performance.
Too Many Zooz
The self proclaimed “Brass House” trio got their start busking in New York City subways, before gaining acclaim after a video of them performing in Union Square Station, went viral a few years back. Their playful fusion of jazz and dance melodies even caught the eyes of Beyonce (yes, the Beyonce), who performed with them at a gig in 2016. That same year they released their first full length album Subway Gawdz; a status they truly live up to.
“Brass Sucks.” That’s the slogan strewn all over buttons and patches you’ll see stitched onto jackets and hoodies all over Vancouver, but once you see them live you’ll quickly find yourself disagreeing with such a bold statement. These punks have played almost every underground venue and club in town, and their pure grit and no bullshit attitude has earned them a hefty cult following that continues to soar.
Having only been in the scene for around a year, Youngblood are quickly gaining momentum as one of Canada’s most sought after electronic pop groups. On their debut EP Feel Alright, the band create dream inducing soundscapes, incorporating whimsical synths, fluttering guitars and a head bobbing rhythm section. All the while, singer Alexis Young’s catchy lyrics and vibrant vocals add an otherworldly mysticism to their tunes.
Westward Festival takes place at various venues throughout Vancouver Sept. 14 to 17. For more info visit westwardfest.com