Rain Did Not Dampen the Festival Spirit on the Final Day of Rifflandia

photo by Erik Lyon
photo by Erik Lyon

Although people had mentioned that it might rain on Sunday, the fourth and final day of Rifflandia, I decided it would probably be sunny. I was wrong. There were moments of sun, but there were more moments of grey, and plenty of periods of rain. Luckily, I was wearing sensible shoes for rain as my one precautionary measure.

The rain didn’t stomp on the spirits of many, however, and in some ways even made the day more fun! It made us all feel like troopers for being there, bonded by a vague sense of martyrdom. It seemed even more crowded than the other days, which may have been because you can buy a day pass for Rifflandia, and Sunday was a day filled with some of the biggest acts of the festival.

I started by checking out Bliss n Eso, an Australian hip hop group. I had never heard them before, and just when I decided that they sounded like a cross between Eminem and Linkin Park, they’d play something totally different, throwing in some totally un-hip hop effect like an Eastern-sounding stringed instrument.

What I had planned to move onto from there was Brushy One String; alas he, like Danny Brown and The Orb on previous Rifflandia days, didn’t make it across the border. His replacement was Man Made Lake, a local Victoria band I have seen before, who put on a decent show.

Soon after that, Stars was back on the main stage. I decided to mix it up and watch from the non-beer garden side of the stage. It was a bit less crowded, but somehow it didn’t feel as much like the band was facing me, which was less fun. Still enjoyable though, as Stars frontman Torquil Campbell is quite a chatterbox up on stage. He told us about how when they travelled here they weren’t able to bring all their gear and gave a sort of shout-out to all the other musicians in Rifflandia from whom they had to borrow their gear. He also tends to go off on his thoughts on life and politics between songs and get real thoughtful and personal, which is interesting, but can sometimes come off as a bit preachy.

It was then time for me to eat some food, so, thinking I had time between acts, and wanting to act while it wasn’t raining, I popped over to the poutine truck for some, you guessed it – poutine! The joke was on me though, as it turned out to be a half-hour wait and started raining again after the first ten minutes.

I took my poutine and headed over to watch Beats Antique under the Rifftop Tent. Another interesting act, they play very danceable Eastern-tinged music. I would have liked to have been able to work my way to the front for a good dance session, but I had to eat my poutine, and there was never any real time to relax between artists, I was finding, especially with the rain pouring down outside the tent. A highlight was when they did a super fun and unique cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.

Big Boi - photo by Erik Lyon
Big Boi – photo by Erik Lyon

Then the moment that tons of Rifflandians had been waiting for: Big Boi. I headed into the beer garden, grabbed a beer (okay two beers), and made a move towards the main stage. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as I only know Big Boi as one half of Outkast. He had a grand throne on the stage which he spent a lot of time sitting in, due to an apparent leg injury. The first few songs were good and got the crowd dancing, even as it started raining again. We all just embraced the rain, many people shaking their wet hair all over the place in excitement. The crowd really went wild though, when the Outkast songs started. I had assumed he was only going to play his own songs, so as not to feel typecast, but I guess he knew what the crowd wanted, and was happy to give it to them!

Then the act I personally was looking most forward to: Matt and Kim. They were in the Rifftop Tent, so I rushed over so as not to miss any of their set, managing to worm my way to a good spot in the mid-to-front area. They are the happiest, most high-energy band I know, and they did not disappoint. They started right off with an energetic “Block After Block”, complete with Kim standing on top of the drum set on every drum break she had, tapping her drumsticks along with the clapping audience. She continued on with this trend for the whole set, because she is a ball of pure energy and happiness embodied. Kim threw handfuls of empty balloons into the crowd as Matt announced that they needed the audience to blow them up and then throw them all up in the air at a specific point in the next song, which the audience was more than happy to do. We all kept batting at them the rest of the show to keep the festivity going. Kim then went into the crowd to stand up on people’s hands and dance for us while Matt played a little ditty. Intermittently between songs, they played danceable little mini versions of cover songs such as Salt N Pepa’s “Push It”. Needless to say, everyone was loving Matt and Kim, and the love seemed to be returned, as Matt kept exclaiming, “Why have we never been to Victoria before!?”

Matt and Kim - photo by Erik Lyon
Matt and Kim – photo by Erik Lyon

Onwards to the last act of the night, and of the festival, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. They were quite possibly the biggest act of the festival, taking up the entire stage with eleven members. They drew a huge crowd, so I didn’t manage to get terribly close, but that was alright with me as it would make it all that much easier to escape into the night at the end…

They started out with a few songs I didn’t recognize, but that didn’t take away from my appreciation of them. They have this lovely feel to them that is reminiscent of bands from the 1970s, a perfect fit for a festival atmosphere. It felt as though they had just all piled out of a giant Westphalia van behind the stage, rumpled from a traveling musician’s life on the road. They played “40 Day Dream” to an enthusiastic response, drawing the song out to a longer length than the commercial version. The song would drift into another territory, and when they picked up the chorus again I was surprised to learn that they were still on the same song! They did this with “Home” as well, perhaps to make us all feel like we were getting a special “festival” version.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - photo by Erik Lyon
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – photo by Erik Lyon

At one point during one of their long drawn-out song versions, Edward requested that an audience member come up with and sing a verse of their own for the song. A girl in the front row did the best she could, although it was fairly repetitive, but who could blame her, being put on the spot like that. He later asked for a story from an audience member, handing the mic to a man who passionately told of how he has recently discovered that playing music was his passion and he was going to pursue it full-time going forward!

All in all, I have to say Sunday felt the most festival-ish of the four-day Rifflandia 2013. We got rained on, the place started to smell an awful lot like a barnyard, we stuck it out, and we got to see a band that wouldn’t have seemed out of place at Woodstock. Another year, another successful Rifflandia. Now it’s time to start counting down the days till the next one…

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