by Paul Rodgers
MERRITT – Motion Notion has moved four times in their 19 years as a festival and this summer, due to circumstances beyond their control, they’ve been forced to relocate for a fifth time. After finding no suitable locations close to their current site near Golden, they threw a “Hail Mary” to a festival grounds well known to them, the site of both the Merritt Mountain Music Festival and Bass Coast.
“We really embody the name Motion Notion quite frequently,” says Kevin Harper, director at Motion Notion. He says the first couple of times they moved it was because they had outgrown their usual digs. This year the reason is quite a bit more unfortunate.
“We had been at Beaverfoot for about six years and had an agreement to do multi-years and build permanent stages and kind of the dream scenario,” Harper explains. “And then all of a sudden the owner basically fired all of the Canadian management staff of his company and put in charge a U.S.-based developer to manage the property.”
They and all other scheduled programming — weddings and all — were given the boot. To Harper and the rest of his team, this obviously came as a significant shock, especially coming just a few months before the show was set to go off.
“We had to basically make a decision of cancelling the event, which would be the first time ever to do so, or to work our butts off to find a suitable new location.”
They spoke with everyone they could – government officials, First Nations groups, farmers, strangers on the road — becoming the talk of the town in Golden along the way, but nothing materialized.
So then they decided to reach out to their friends at Bass Coast. “[We] said, ‘this is the situation, we’re really sorry to put this on you — can we have your blessing to be able to get us by?’ And they said absolutely.”
News of Motion Notion’s move to the grounds that Bass Coast attendees have a profound connection to seemed to create two different schools of thought on the matter. The first being that it makes sense, the land is not owned by Bass Coast, they are tenants there, and Motion Notion, like Fozzy Fest last year because of the Wildfires, was put in a situation where they needed a proper venue fast. The land in Merritt is designated for that exact purpose.
However, because festivals have such an intrinsic impact on attendees, some felt as though it would be weird having another rave on Bass Coast’s setting.
“That was our utmost number one concern,” Harper says. “From our standpoint, because we our one festival community, we do want to make sure that we’re not stepping on anyone’s toes, both on the event organizer side, but even for the attendees so that it’s not an overlap in terms of expectations and all of that stuff.”
Harper says that 95 per cent of feedback about this move has been positive, though there has been some negative comments, but in his 20-plus years of running events — 11 just with MoNo — he knows that problems can always arise, and this one “takes the cake.”
In terms of creating a distinct vibe from that which Bass Coast conjure up every year in the Nicola Valley, Harper is confident that the overall atmospheres of the festivals are different enough that it won’t be an issue. Yes, they are both electronic music festivals, but that term is extremely broad.
Though it’s hard to categorize a festival’s entire programming into a word, whereas Bass Coast may be known to be a little more heady, deeper, darker, MoNo features more of the funky, heavier sounds like breaks (Marten Hørger, Freestylers), drum and bass (Calyx and TeeBee, Original Sin) and electro house (Slynk), but then of course the sound that they are originally rooted in, and that you are unlikely to find at other West Coast festivals these days: psytrance.
So worry not, there is plenty of room in that valley to provide entirely distinct playgrounds for many different raving revellers to delight in, as well as a logistical base of operations for festival promoters caught between a rock and a hard place — like Harper, who says he is now going to be able to sleep a little better at night.
Motion Notion takes place August 23 to 27 in Merritt, BC.Motion Notion