Charlotte Day Wilson and A Tribe Called Red at the Vancouver Mural Fest Park Show, 8/11/18
The Vancouver Mural Park show was a peak to a week of art, community and fun. The crowd was a bit weary after walking around the Mt. Pleasant festival that celebrates commissioned murals on several buildings, but everyone was in good spirits as the cool day came to evening.
The music happened at Johnathan Roger’s Park which overlooks downtown Vancouver and makes you realize why the neighborhood is called Mt. Pleasant. Laughs and the delighted screams of children were the first sounds one heard as the concert featured a sizable playground for youngsters to run around and play. People of all types and ages gathered on the sloping hills of the park to listen to the tried and true chill-wave set of the first artist Teen Daze. Food trucks, beer tents and live painting accompanied the well place stage.
Probably more to do with the relaxed vibe of the festival than the excess of security personnel, the crowd was calm and respectful. During the set of Charlotte Day Wilson, energy started to pick up and a small crowd gathered to dance to Wilson’s impressive singing voice. The Toronto artist and her band offered the crowd smooth R&B inspired tunes including “In Your Eyes” and a lovely cover of Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again.” While at times the set failed to capture the full attention of the crowd, Wilson’s voice and the skill of the band were remarkable. The sun finally set as Wilson commended the Vancouver crowd on their commitment to live music.
Moods started to waiver as the night brought heavier rains. That changed when A Tribe Called Red hit the stage. The Ottawa producers came to represent the indigenous peoples of North America with an electric sound that takes advantage of samples from speeches, drum and bass, hip-hop, and the diverse sounds of various indigenous cultures.
On the decked-out DJ table hung flags that said “The Seal of the Great Halluci Nation” which nods to their new album We are the Halluci Nation. As soon as the music started everyone in the field appeared to be pulled in by magnets to join what become an incredible dance party.
Their music, always run through with a righteous belief in inclusivity and the importance of indigenous pride, has risen to international acclaim. This was reflected in their eclectic set. A large screen behind the DJs played looped footage from various filmic representations of indigenous people edited in thermal technicolor.
Throughout the set dancers of all kinds—from break dancers to pow wow dancers—broke it down on set to the enthusiasm of the crowd. Dub step and dance music kept the crowd dancing along. Even as the rain picked up, the dancing continued and everyone seemed to be having a great time. At one point 2oolman got on the mic asking for “all the indigenous sisters in the crowd to make some noise!” They did, with pride. The set ended with a few new tracks and Bear Witness asking the crowd to smile as 2oolman took a video of the elated crowd.
The music ended early, but everyone seemed satisfied. A successful end of another successful mural fest. Mt. Pleasant—and the city in general—knows how to make space with art.