Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an up and coming music festival that has taken place in Victoria for the past three years. It was my first time to the festival, and only my second time in Victoria. I will let you know right off the bat, reader, that I am no where close to professionalism in my critiques or reviews of events; however, I can give one hell of an honest, average-joe like, almost personal preference free account of a good time. This is the quick story of my time at Rifflandia.
We got to Victoria just in time to start what would become a four day Phillips habit. My travel companion Porker and I were extremely excited to see Bay area artists Eskmo and Tokimonsta on the same bill at Lucky bar that night. Good beer + good electronic bleeps, blurps, and beautiful yet heavy loops left us dumbstruck post show.
Launch day for the festival at Royal Athletic Park. Years previous had only included evening shows, whereas this year’s fest held an American-style field set up during the day with two stages and various tents for art, film and local media and arts. Bands throughout Friday were Canadian (or almost Canadian) performers with strong followings: The Cave Singers, Ra Ra Riot, The Besnard Lakes, Mother Mother and Broken Social Scene. The weather was amazing, and Friday overall was my overall favorite day at the field. Later that night, we got the chance to screw with our own heads and run to catch not only two completely different shows, but to visit two completely different venues only three blocks away from each other! Victorian’s sure are lucky to have so much great variety in so short of distance. Porker has made me promise to highly recommend seeing a Cave Singer’s show. They were one of the funnest bands to watch, listen to, and talk to all weekend.
Saturday’s hangover added to my dislike of the majority of bands who were playing at the field that day. Obviously I wont go into details about it because you may or may not enjoy all or many of the groups that played that day and I’m not here to judge. However, Saturday allowed me to make a couple notes about the people and atmosphere during the festival. Festival attendees told me that the prices years previous had been a lot cheaper. The majority of people were either teenagers or nicely dressed parents. There was a definite lack of people appearing to be in their early to mid twenties, or average student aged. All of this allowed me to conclude that the wristband prices were too high for a large portion of Victoria’s population, and therefore the people that attended the day shows were those with somewhat extendable budgets. That evening we danced all night to the sounds of The Knox and Lyrics Born at the Phillips brewery. There was an amazingly energetic crowd, equipped with naked hula-hoopers tee-hee-hee.
By this point I was hoping my back would not give out, and instead give in and learn to live with the strain put on it by dancin’, walkin’, and boozin’. By this point we had figured out the entire downtown area, and even a bit more, of Vic. I was getting a little suspicious of how happy people looked all the time, I figured they too were tourists. Unfortunately, due to how the festival was structured at night I had to miss a tonne of amazing artists, including The Coup, Braids, Bonjay, Malajube, Machine Drum, J Mascis, and De La Soul. One group I most definitely refused to miss, was Blackalicious. The hip hop legends were to be the last we caught before having to make the long dredge back to Vancouver that evening; and damn, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Victoria may be a small town, but they are a good audience. They made the performance as much as the group.
Every single person I talked to, from local musician to foreign visitor, enjoyed Rifflandia. Porker was impressed by Victoria’s zest and excitement for their new fest, and I was impressed by the international talent they got on to the island. If someone asked me if Rifflandia was good, I’d say yes. If they asked me if it was great, I’d say yes. If they asked me if it was amazing, I’d say... almost!