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Arts in Review

A West Coast Festival Guide

With the month of March passing quickly by, temperatures rising, and spring rains replacing hail and snow, it is becoming more and more evident that summer is inevitably on the way. For students, that means many things: exams and summer jobs come to mind, but there are more enjoyable alternatives as well. For many music-loving students, summer means one thing, festivals. These summer treats can include so much, such as camping, drinking, road trips, getting to know your own back yard, and, of course, music, so we at The Cascade will give you a breakdown of some of the biggest, best, and even most unheard of west coast festivals. Remember to check festival websites for updates, changes, and tips on festival going. It’s shaping up to be a big summer so, most of all, don’t forget to have fun!

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Bring on the summer fun with these great events

By Paul Falardeau (Arts & Life Editor) – Email

With the month of March passing quickly by, temperatures rising, and spring rains replacing hail and snow, it is becoming more and more evident that summer is inevitably on the way. For students, that means many things: exams and summer jobs come to mind, but there are more enjoyable alternatives as well. For many music-loving students, summer means one thing, festivals. These summer treats can include so much, such as camping, drinking, road trips, getting to know your own back yard, and, of course, music, so we at The Cascade will give you a breakdown of some of the biggest, best, and even most unheard of west coast festivals. Remember to check festival websites for updates, changes, and tips on festival going. It’s shaping up to be a big summer so, most of all, don’t forget to have fun!

Coachella

Date: April 15 – 17

Big Acts: The Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Kanye West

Camping: Yes, and don’t forget to bring the sunblock.

Probably the biggest west coast festival and the holy grail for music-lovers across the continent. Coachella, held in Indio, California isn’t just the monster headliners, but the smaller acts, like the long awaited reunion of Death from Above 1979 or The National, whose High Violet has been turning heads everywhere. In fact, those super with it Americans even thought to add this unknown Canadian guy, Gordon Downie, at the end of their list. In the end, this is hipster heaven, and anyone on the west coast worth his skinny jeans and vintage cardigan has or will find themselves in Indio sooner or later. I hope the dates jive with your exams!

Sasquatch

Date: May 27 – 30

Big Acts: The Foo Fighters, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Wilco, The Flaming Lips

Camping: Yes, and don’t forget to get wild once the sun goes down.

Held at the beautiful Gorge Amphitheatre overlooking the Columbia River every Memorial Day weekend, Sasquatch has become more and more popular each year. In fact, it’s already sold out, but ticket packages are still quite reasonable on craigslist. The festival has always been known for its big festival feel with more “obscure” acts, so this year’s headliners, who walk the line between indie hipsterdom and mainstream mayhem, are drawing the ire of some, and giving first-time interest to others.

Bonnaroo

Date: June 9 – 12

Big Acts: Eminem, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, Buffalo Springfield,

Camping: Yes, don’t forget the free love and grass

This is undoubtedly the biggest festival for those who veer more towards jams than lo-fi underground. Lots of Deadheads and Phish Phollowers will be in attendance without a doubt. A cool twist? Bonnaroo features the super jam, where musicians are invited to sit in and play, so fans can see some of their favourites combine their skills. Always a unique experiences, this year’s super jam will feature Dr. John, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, and Gypsy Punk auteur Eugene Hutz. Held in Manchester, Tennessee, it’s a bit of a trip, but hey, that is the point.

Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Date: June 24 – July 3

Big Acts: Wynton Marsalis, Paco de Lucia, Madeleine Peyroux

Camping: No, no place to pitch a tent in VanCity.

While Vancouver has no big festival like Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo, it does have one of the most widely respected jazz festivals in the world. The entire line-up is yet to be announced, but so far it looks like the city wide festival, which has performances happening at all of Vancouver’s best venues, will include the best local and international acts spanning all kinds of jazz music.

Merritt Mountain Music Festival

Dates: July 7 – 10

Big Acts: Mike Gouchie, Aaron Pritchett, Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Marion Weston

Camping: Yes, for many its what the festival is all about

After financial problems stemming from the revamped – and poorly attended – “family-centered” festival of 2009. Merritt’s famous – and infamous – country music festival was cancelled for 2010. 2011 sees the return of the festival to the banks of the Coldwater River, but organizers will be walking the line from the dull, but safe, 2009 festival and the notoriously out of control festivals of the past which started the problems. All eyes will be on Merritt come July, so if you are a country music fan who wants to keep up the tradition, you may want to consider moderating your behaviour while still having fun. Remember: “No means no.”

Vancouver Island Musicfest

Dates: July 8 – 10

Big Acts: Alison Krauss and Union Station

Camping: Yes, and it is immersive for both families and college students alike

One of Vancouver Island’s biggest festivals has seen the likes of Little Feat, Roberta Flack, Don McLean, and Bedouin Soundclash in the past. This year’s headliner, the Grammy-Award-winning Allison Krauss is already announced and the rest is still to come. Stay tuned for what is sure to be another stellar line-up for those looking to venture closer to the briny depths of the Pacific.

Harrison Festival of the Arts

Date: July 9 – 17

Big Acts: TBA

Camping: Yes, but don’t forget to book early, it’s not included with the festival

For those looking for a festival experience closer to home there is the Harrison Festival of the Arts. The acts won’t be announced until the first week of April. Although they will be smaller, last year’s show featured legendary summer of love act Dan Hicks and many roots acts that ended up on this year’s Juno nominees list. There are always craft and art vendors, so you may stroll and shop while you listen to the tunes and feel the good vibes. Furthermore, UFV will participate, with poets from the valley and CiVL radio known for their past inclusion.

Dawson City Music Festival

Date: July 15 – 17

Big Acts: <will put in here on Wednesday>

Camping: Yes, but don’t forget you can also try one of the cool gold rush hotels.

One of the cooler local festivals, Dawson’s festival is, well, in Dawson City. Through the rest of the year that might seem pretty dull, but for three days in July it’s one hip place to be. The past meets the present – and the future – as young music fans flood into the old gold rush town.

Mission Folk Music Festival

Date: July 21 – 24

Big Acts: TBA

Camping: Yes, but don’t forget to bring your gum boots, it is known to get muddy

Another folk-driven local festival, Mission is a staple for residents of the Fraser Valley. Staged in one of BC’s loveliest parks, overlooking the Fraser River, the Mission Folk Music Festival is now in its 24th year and it’s been in the hands of the same competent planners for years, so they know how to give you a good time. Comfortable and affordable, this might even be a good choice for the whole family.

Shambala

Dates: August 5 – 8

Big Acts: TBA

Camping: Yes, and don’t forget the glow sticks

Maybe the biggest black sheep of all the west coast festivals, Salmo, BC is the setting for Shambala. The festival is Canada’s biggest electronic offering – without the help of any corporate sponsorship. Instead it is funded solely by ticket sales. Tickets remain reasonably priced compared to other festivals and some of the world’s biggest electronic acts like Bassnectar and AC Slater have been past performers.

Outside Lands

Dates: August 12 – 14

Big Acts: TBA

Camping: No, this is another city festival, although some find a way…

An oddball amongst festivals, Outside Lands rose as offspring of the big festivals back East along with All Points West in New Jersey and the now defunct Vegoose in Las Vegas. Yet, San Francisco’s festival, held in Golden Gate Park is just the perfect mix of southern jam bands, hard rock, electronica, and Bay Area hippiedom. Acts have included the Grateful Dead revival, Furthur, and rapper Nas. This year’s acts have yet to be announced, but a move back to August from June and an additional day, planners say, are harbingers of the biggest and best Outside Lands yet.

Burnaby Blues and Roots

Date: August 13

Big Acts: TBA

Camping: No, and no need

Like Mission, Harrison, and the others, Burnaby is a blues, roots, and folk affair. Yet, there are some major differences. Burnaby is held in the much more metropolitan Deer Lake Park, and is one day only. These two facts also mean there is no camping involved, but event coordinators can also afford to hire bigger names, so check back often to see who’s invited this year.

Bumbershoot

Dates: September 3-5

Big Acts: TBA in Spring

Camping: No, It’s in Seattle City Center at the base of the Space Needle

One of the bigger west coast festivals, Bumbershoot turns Seattle’s downtown core into a writhing beacon of music, comedy, theatre, art, and culture. Unlike other big festivals there is no camping so you’ll need to arrange other accommodations. This may be a make or break piece of information for some patrons. Of course, Bumbershoot is also the closest big hurrah for British Columbians and well worth the couple hour drive – last year brought acts such as Bob Dylan to the stage. A wonderful way to end your summer!

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Larry

    March 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Totally forgot the Jam in Jubilee.

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