Tag Archive: Live At Squamish


Arriving at the festival.

Finding a breakfast joint in town with less than an hour wait on the morning of Live At Squamish Day 2 proved to be a bit of a challenge and my group arrived just outside the festival grounds right as Brasstronaut took the stage. I could hear the opening song, Slow Knots, finish right as we made it through security. I was a little annoyed that I missed that song (which happens to be my favourite Brasstronaut song). Watching Bryan play trumpet and bells at the same time at the end of Slow Knots blows my mind every time. It had been a while since I had last seen the band play (almost a year, in fact), and they had written some new material since then. The band mentioned that they were heading to the studio soon to start recording their next album (I’m really looking forward to that release), and they played a couple of these new songs in their set. Two of these new songs, “Opportunity” and “Hollow Trees”, were released on EP just last month. You can get the Opportunity EP for free on the band’s website.

Up next on the Main Stage was Bend Sinister. This band needs to make it over to Vancouver Island again soon. They are one of the best live acts I’ve seen. Now that I think about it, I can’t even pinpoint what makes their shows so great. It’s not like they rely on any gimmicks (other than maybe Dan Moxon’s love of tie dye). They just have so much energy and the group is incredibly polished. I quickly learned from this set and Brasstronaut’s set that the theme of Live At Squamish Day 2 would be “we are working on new material, and here’s some of it”. The last update on the Bend Sinister website was back in July and it said that the band hopes to have some advance tracks from the new album out by the end of summer. Now that we’re halfway through fall, I can only hope that those tracks will appear any day now. I managed to get a couple of videos from Bend Sinister’s set, one is a new song (or at least, I think it’s new) that I don’t know the name of and the other is the song “CT” from their album Stories Of Brothers, Tales Of Lovers. (If you know the name of the mystery song, or can confirm that it’s a new one, please let me know!)

I left Bend Sinister’s set a bit early to catch the “mystery band” in the Live At Squamish lineup. Billed simply as “Panda Watch – a band from Vancouver”, this group drew quite the crowd. The members walked out on stage wearing panda heads, concealing their identities for as long as they could. OK, truth be told, with Twitter it wasn’t too much of a secret who this band was. Panda Watch turned out to be Said The Whale performing a set solely of new songs from their upcoming album. I really enjoyed what I heard from the group that day. The new songs show an evolution to their sound and I don’t know if it was because I was hearing them for the first time or what, but I think that the songs sounded more complex musically than what we’re used to hearing from Said The Whale. I wish I knew the names of the songs they performed, there was a couple that really stood out for me. One in particular that I liked was heavy with drums and seemed to have a bit of a prog rock influence. The new Said The Whale album is set to be released in March 2012, and it can’t come soon enough.

Panda Watch / Said The Whale

After Said The Whale earned thunderous cheers from the audience for their new material, I headed back to the Main Stage to see The Zolas. I’ve met Zach of the Zolas before and I’ve seen him perform with the Vancouver band Henry And The Nightcrawlers, but up until Live At Squamish I had always missed seeing the Zolas when they came to town. This is another band that needs to come to Victoria more often. (Fact: I say that about all bands I like, it just somehow seems like more opportunities are missed when the band is from somewhere as close as Vancouver.) The Zolas really brought their A game to their set. For the last song the band brought out their parents to join them singing backup and playing percussion. And of course it wouldn’t be a festival without members of We Are The City jumping on stage, and they were there too. (Seriously, who haven’t I seen We Are The City perform with?) The set closed with Zach pulling an epic rock star move by leaping off the bass drum (pictured below).

At this point in the festival I hit the wall. The Dudes always bring so much energy to their shows, but it was no match for my tiredness. I spent most of their set charging my phone and sitting down, but I did catch the last few songs. The most important thing I have to say about their set is “that’s a lot of beard”.

The Dudes

It’s a good thing I got a rest before Black Mountain. Otherwise, they might have destroyed me with their amazing rock and roll. Here’s how loud their set was: I could feel my sinus cavities vibrate. I’m always so torn when I see Black Mountain live. I love their music and watching Stephen McBean’s hair fly around is mesmerizing, but Amber Webber has the most subdued stage presence ever. The best part of their set for me, hands down, was “Let Spirits Ride”. It’s one of their strongest tracks on their latest release Wilderness Heart. Other than me internally yelling at Amber “why are you just standing there?!”, this was my favourite set from the entire festival.

As I mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of Metric. (I was obsessed with them ages ago, but it appears that I’ve moved on.) Metric’s sound is definitely suited to the large stage though and their hits sounded right at home over the huge speakers with an enormous crowd singing along. It was neat to see them play on both days of the festival. To see a stripped down set one day followed by the full Metric band the next was pretty cool. I’m glad they brought this unique experience to Squamish.

Like many people my age, one of the first CDs I bought was Weezer’s The Blue Album. While I haven’t enjoyed anything of theirs past The Green Album (OK, I might have also liked Maladroit, but that was where it stopped), I was still pretty excited to see Weezer perform. I saw Weezer in concert once before, way back in 2002 for the tour supporting Maladroit. The image I had in my head of the band performing live was frozen back at that concert so my initial reaction to their Live At Squamish set was “Holy crap! Since when did Rivers become such a rock star?!” There was such a difference between the shy awkward front man I saw almost ten years ago and the guy now who was running around on stage, jumping in the crowd to sing. I was relieved to see that their set heavily favoured their earlier material (excluding Pinkerton, of course) mixed with singles from their last few albums, and some really cool covers. One cover was Foster The People’s summer hit “Pumped Up Kicks”. The other cover they threw into their set was the one that really impressed me though – Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android”. Yes, they performed that six and a half minute epic and they totally pulled it off. (In my head I interpreted it as the band saying “Yes, we know we now write really horrible pop songs, but look at this – we still play difficult cool music!”. Well played Weezer, well played.) The set ended with all the members of the band gathered around the drum set wailing away.

Live At Squamish 2011 proved to be a lot of fun. My biggest complaints would be the few occasions that set start times deviated from the schedule and the generic festival food choices. The other annoyance was the video camera arm and stage hands on the main stage. They interfered with my sightlines more often than not, and I found that it really distracted from the performances. Those are all things I can deal with though, and Live At Squamish is definitely heading in the direction of doing more good than bad. I love that they book so many local acts, and the addition of the Green Couch stage this year was great. I also liked that the festival was moved away from the Labour Day long weekend. Travel (especially from Vancouver Island) is always a nightmare on a summer long weekend, and having the festival in the middle of August not only alleviated that travel stress, it provided another excuse to get out of the city during the summer. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Live At Squamish organizers have up their sleeves next year!

More of my photos from Day 2 can be found on my Flickr page.

Leaving the festival grounds.

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Live At Squamish 2011 – Day 1

After a bit of a blogging hiatus (but by no means a music hiatus) I figure I better get writing about what I’ve been up to this summer.

Hey Ocean

My adventures at the Live At Squamish festival started off with a secret show for the Green Couch Sessions by Vancouver band Hey Ocean. They played a quick three song set of things that wouldn’t be in their act on the main stage later that night. It was a lot of fun and the band ended with a cover of the oldie “Be My Baby“. (Turns out that some people really liked the band… or more specifically they really liked guitarist Devon Lougheed.) Green Couch Sessions sponsored a series of secret shows throughout the weekend, including short sets by: Top Less Gay Love Teckno Party, Rococode, Redbird and Portage & Main, Woolworm, and Rich Hope and Black Mountain. Keep an eye on their website for these sessions to be posted (and in the meantime, check out some of the other awesome things they have up there). Unfortunately Hey Ocean’s set was the only Green Couch Session I was able to see this weekend, but I hope the festival keeps this feature.

Kim Churchill

Next I headed over to the Garibaldi Stage. This side stage was situated on a baseball diamond, with the stands converted into a beer garden. This was a great place to camp out for the day, especially since most of the seats were in the shade and it was pretty hot out that weekend. I arrived in time to see most of Kim Churchill’s performance – what an amazing guitar player he is. When we first arrived I was standing beside the stage and remarked something like “the bass player and the drummer are turned up way too loud”. Turns out that there was no bass player nor was there a drummer, it was just Kim on stage with a single acoustic guitar and a bass drum. This was probably my best find of the festival.

Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric

Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric were on the Garibaldi Stage after Kim Churchill. It was announced late in the planning process that Metric would actually play two sets at Live At Squamish – an acoustic set on the Saturday and a full out electric traditional Metric set on the main stage on Sunday. I’m not the biggest Metric fan, but it was neat to see something different from them. The set was mostly Emily on piano and vocals and James on guitar, with them playing favourites like “Help I’m Alive” and “Combat Baby” as well as playing a few cover songs.

At this point the Garibaldi Stage was running a bit behind, so when I headed over to the Main Stage to see Hey Ocean it turns out that I had missed most of their set. I managed to catch the last two songs though, and it sounded like I missed a good one.

Stars

Stars

I spent the remainder of the evening with the amazing lineup on the Main Stage. Stars were up next. I don’t know if the band has ever played a show on Vancouver Island, they certainly haven’t in the past five years, so I was really excited to see them play. The set was heavy with songs from their latest release The Five Ghosts, with some old favourites sprinkled in. Before launching into the haunting “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead”, Torquil Campbell asked us to “take a moment to think of the ones we hate most”. The set was closed out with the song “Elevator Love Letter”. Grant Lawrence will be pleased to know that the crowd started cheering only a couple bars in with some “recognition applause”. It had been a while since I had seen any video of the band, and let me say they were looking HOT. I mean that literally. You would never guess that lead Amy Millan just became a mother five short months ago. Torquil Campbell was looking pretty good himself, sporting a deep summer tan.

Stars

While we waited for the evening’s big headliners to set up, we were treated to a short performance by everyone’s favourite slam poet Shane Koyczan. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Shane perform a few times. The first time was at the Vancouver Island Music Festival back in 2008, before anyone knew him as the guy with the Canada poem from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Closing Ceremony, and even before people knew him as the guy who did the poem in that Dan Mangan song (the song is called “Tragic Turn Of Events / Move Pen Move“, I dare you to listen to it without crying). While the novelty of “holy crap, there’s a guy on stage reciting poetry!” has worn off for me, the thing that continues to impress me with Shane’s performances is the dynamics. The build that he shows from simply saying words to full on screaming his heart out on stage is the best factor of his live shows and is what I think makes his performances fit so well when put into a music festival.

I spent most of the John Butler Trio set in the beer garden. It was an… interesting experience. I don’t know if I heard much of the music above the party going on there, but friends tell me that I missed out on one of the best performances of the weekend. One particular highlight that many people agreed on was the performance of “Ocean“.

Girl Talk

Day 1 of Live At Squamish was closed out by Girl Talk. Of all the acts I would see this weekend, I was most intrigued by this one. On one hand I knew what to expect – I had listened to the latest album, I knew that Gregg Gillis did the mixing of songs from his massive collection of samples live at his shows, and I knew I should expect one hell of a party – and on the other hand I had no idea what exactly the live show would be like. The set started out with Gillis alone on stage behind a table with two laptops. No sooner had I thought “wow, this is going to get old fast” that throngs of festival attendees were allowed on the stage to dance the night away. Then when I thought that had gotten old, two guys with rolls of toilet paper attached to leaf blowers appeared. Then when that got old, the confetti guns were brought out. Then when that got old, balloons were released. Then… you get the idea, the man knows how to entertain a crowd. I was impressed with the breadth of samples used, it wasn’t all just top 40 and hip hop from the past five years. It’s clear that this is the appeal of Girl Talk’s act: a field full of people was able to party out and bond over the likes of The Isley Brothers, Black Sabbath, ELO, Nirvana, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga. (Let it be noted that the biggest cheers were awarded to Michael Jackson and Beyonce.) While I’m not sure that I would ever attend a concert just for the sake of seeing Girl Talk, I’m really glad I got to witness this at Live At Squamish, and it ended up being one of my favourite sets of the weekend.

More of my photos from Day 1 can be found on my Flickr page.

Check out some other coverage from Live At Squamish:

Even though I’m stuck most of my days at school, it seems that summer is officially in full swing. Some great festivals have already happened this season (such as Sasquatch, Victoria Ska Fest, and Summer Live in Vancouver), but before we get too late in the year I thought I would give a preview of some great upcoming events.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Location: Jericho Beach Park, Vancouver, BC

Dates: Friday July 15th – Sunday July 17th

Website: http://thefestival.bc.ca/

Info: This is the 34th year of the Vancouver Folk Fest. The grounds at Jericho Beach have got to be one of the prettiest places ever to have a music festival. I can’t think of anything better to do on a summer day than to look at ocean, mountains, and the city skyline while listening to some superb music. Though the name of this festival says “folk”, the lineup has “indie” written all over it this year – just take a look at my list of highlights below. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Vancouver Folk Fest the past two years (check out my photos from last year’s festival here and here), and I’m looking forward to being able to cover the festival this weekend. Be sure to follow my tweets and check back here on EhBSeasides for the highlights. Ticket prices and daily schedules are posted on the festival’s website.

Who to catch: Dustin Bentall & Kendel Carson (they put on a great set at Summer Live in Vancouver last weekend!), Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans Band, Buck 65, the Burning Hell, Kathryn Calder, Elliott Brood, Imaginary Cities, Danny Michel, Joel Plaskett Emergency.

Kulth Music Festival

Location: Coombs (Vancouver Island), BC

Dates: Saturday July 16th – Sunday July 17th

Website: http://thekulth.ca/

Info: This is the first year for the Kulth Festival, and I for one am excited to have a new musical event on Vancouver Island (though next year the organizers should coordinate with the Vancouver Folk Fest so as not to book them on the same weekend!). I actually don’t know much about this festival, but with a lineup like they’ve got this year I’m thinking it can’t be that bad. Ticket prices and daily schedules are posted on the festival’s website.

Who To Catch: Stars, Ron Sexsmith, Aidan Knight, Memphis, Top Less Gay Love Teckno Party, Louise Burns, Current Swell.

Victoria Electronic Music Festival

Location: Centennial Square, Victoria, BC

Dates: Saturday July 30th – Sunday July 31st

Website: http://vemf.org/

Info: This is the 8th year for the Victoria Electronic Music Festival (VEMF). While I’m not up on my electronic music knowledge, I have to say that I really admire the model that this festival works on. VEMF operates as an all ages, non profit festival. In fact, up until this year it was absolutely free to take in the events at VEMF. (This year the price made the small jump up to $5 in order to cover the cost of security the city now requires of the festival.) If I stay in town for the BC Day long weekend, I hope to catch some of the VEMF events!

Who To Catch: I’m not even going to try pick anything here. Mostly because I have no idea where to start, but also because there’s no full line up posted yet.

Live At Squamish Festival

Location: Squamish, BC

Dates: Saturday August 20th – Sunday August 21st

Website: http://www.liveatsquamish.com/

Info: Live At Squamish is now in its second year and they’re looking to build on the success of last year’s festival by providing on site camping, booking some big headliners, and partnering with a major sponsor. I went to Live At Squamish last year and had a blast. (Check out my photos here and here.) One thing I especially loved about Live At Squamish was how the festival was big with a small festival feel. It was great to see some amazing acts like the Decemberists and Devo without being totally overwhelmed by swarms of people. The festival also does an awesome job of booking smaller local acts. (I am so excited to finally see the Zolas perform!) Ticket info can be found on the Live At Squamish website. EhBSeasides has secured a press spot for this year’s Live At Squamish festival, so be sure to follow my tweets and check back here for ongoing coverage.

Who To Catch: Metric, Bend Sinister, The Belle Game (they also put on a great set at Summer Live last weekend), Brasstronaut, Shad, Shane Koyczan, the Dudes, the Zolas, Black Mountain, Stars.

Rifflandia Festival

Location: Victoria, BC

Dates: Thursday September 22nd – Sunday September 25th

Website: http://2011.rifflandia.com/

Info: It’s year four for Rifflandia, and they just keep building with no signs of stopping. This year Rifflandia has secured the use of Royal Athletic Park and plans to host some big headliners at this large outdoor venue. Word has it that Royal Athletic Park has the capacity of the entire festival, so this means no more standing outside in the rain being disappointed that you can’t get into that full venue to see your favourite band. The first couple waves of performing artist announcements have been made, and so far it lives up to the expectations set by previous years’ line ups. (My photos of last year’s festival can be found here and here and here, with written coverage here and here and here.) I’m really excited to see the return of Rifflandia alumni like Hollerado, Mother Mother, and We Are The City, as well as some new faces like Karkwa and Suuns. I’m hoping that more local acts get announced in the coming weeks; discovering local bands like Forestry, the Wicks, Maurice, and Aidan Knight is definitely one of my favourite things about Rifflandia. My ticket for this year’s festival is already purchased, info on how to get yours is available on the Rifflandia website.

Who To Catch: City and Colour, Broken Social Scene, Mother Mother, Besnard Lakes, Hollerado, Matthew Barber, The Pack AD, Royal Wood, Braids, Jets Overhead, Karkwa, Library Voices, Malajube, The Racoons, Suuns, We Are The City, Mike Edel, Rococode.