Hey Marseilles, Rob Garza and Kid Koala Keep the Good Times Rolling at Rifflandia

Hey Marseilles - photo by Erik Lyon
Hey Marseilles – photo by Erik Lyon

Saturday at Rifflandia. It was my first full day of “festival-ing”, and it was indeed full. This festival jams so many artists into one day, it’s insane.

I started out with Hey Marseilles. They were one of the bands I was most interested in seeing, due to my keener pre-festival artist research. I’m not sure exactly what category to put them into, so I’ll just call them good. They played a great set, with their crazy multitude of fancy instruments (cello, violin, accordion, etc). I enjoyed all the songs I knew and didn’t know yet, as well as their amazing finale song that had a gypsy/Klezmer, raucous in-a-good-way sound to it.

Corb Lund was starting just as I was headed off to interview Hey Marseilles. I caught bits and pieces of his set, enough to decide for myself that it was true what I had heard – that Corb Lund actually played a good version of country music. (Rifflandia isn’t really a country music kind of festival, so you know he must be good.)

Post-interview, I headed over to the food truck area to sample some of the local food truck cuisine. I ended up at the Farm’s Gate truck, to feast on wild salmon chowder, curried quinoa salad, and an heirloom tomato salad. Yum! I could hear Limblifter from where I was sitting, and managed to catch the only two songs I know by them.

I headed into the beer garden, only to end up trapped in there once St. Lucia was starting their set at the Rifftop Tent stage. The beer garden allows you to go right up to the front of the main stage, but if you want to catch something at the Rifftop Tent, you have to either leave the beer garden or watch through the corner of the beer garden gate like some caged animal. It seemed too early in the day to be quickly downing beers, so I chose the caged animal route. They seemed to have a pretty good set, starting quite the dance party, complete with people waving giant colourful foam noodles in the air.

I eventually finished the beer, heading out to see Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 at the Rifftop Tent. I enjoyed the first couple of songs, and then decided to go and see the “village” area of Rifflandia. Here they have Kidlandia, a place for kids to play fun games and be otherwise entertained, and Artlandia, which showcases local art and boasts a giant wall structure on which people are welcome to pick up a brush and paint something of their own. There are also a variety of local trendy vendors showcasing and selling their wares, often with deals only offered at this festival; Silk Road Teas and Sitka Clothing, to name a couple. Hive Hair also had a tent where they were offering $20 haircuts with the proceeds going to War Child, Rifflandia’s chosen charity, which they help out every year. (There are also War Child concerts that go on in an Atrium building in downtown Victoria during Rifflandia.)

I headed back into the beer garden to see Wintersleep. I worked my way up to the front on the side (where it wasn’t quite as crowded) and had myself a pretty good view.  Another good set. Paul Murphy actually said “yay” into the microphone out of a moment of sheer excitement at one point, and then in a moment of adorable self-awareness, called himself out on his own silliness. Just when I was thinking, “Their music is good but a bit safe, like ‘vanilla-pop’…”, they ended their set with a hard-edged rock song, just to round everything out.

USS - photo by Erik Lyon
USS – photo by Erik Lyon

I knew that someone I absolutely had to see on Saturday was Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation. I was getting a little confused trying to sort out who was playing when and where, and didn’t want to miss him at the Rifftop Tent, so I only caught a bit of USS before heading back out of the beer garden. I didn’t really know much about USS before the festival, and from what I can gather they play a lot of cover songs, putting their own punky spin on them. I headed over to the Rifftop Tent so as not to miss a moment of Rob, and I was not disappointed. His whole DJ set was just the right mix of mellow but super fun, really basic stuff with just the right accents thrown in at just the right moments so as to drive the dancing crowd wild. He too seemed to be having a great time, stopping to move to the music himself, and taking swigs from what I at first thought was a fancy bottle of water, but as I got closer to the front, I believe it was actually a straight-up bottle of hard alcohol.

After that it was off to the night shows! I decided to go to Market Square, to see (and dance to) Kita Kaze. Kita was good, there wasn’t too much of a crowd yet, but definitely a few die-hard disco fans dancing up a storm. I stuck around to see Danuel Tate and Tyger Dhula, a duo who worked really well together and drew an even bigger dance crowd.

After a while, curiosity got the better of me and I headed over to Alix Goolden Hall to finish the night with the Kid Koala Vinyl Vaudeville Revue. Not really sure what exactly to expect, I was happily surprised at the spectacle that ensued. First, Kid Koala came out and wandered through the crowd up to the stage, sandwiched between two Vaudevillian dancer girls carrying umbrellas with light bobbles dangling from them. The stage itself had a red crushed velvet backdrop, Kid Koala’s three turntable setup in the middle, and two large, black and white screens flaunting the stage to show everyone close-ups of Kid spinning the vinyl.

Among the highlights were: a giant puppet robot “singing” to us the words that were being played on the record, before collapsing and shorting out as Kid scratched the record; a Yo Gabba Gabba-inspired song that was pretty childlike and involved lots of audience participation in the form of waving arms around and crouching down to the ground (he informed us that this is his four-year old daughter’s favourite song); and a song in which the Vaudeville dancing girls performed an elaborate old-time dance with feather umbrellas.

All in all, Saturday at Rifflandia was another success, completely exhausting, and totally fulfilling.

For more of Erik Lyon‘s photos of this year’s Rifflandia Festival, check out the Vancouver Weekly Facebook page.