Pemberton Fest Day Three Willed to Die Antwoord

Photo by Ryan Johnson
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Day three of Pemberton Fest started off like a short range shotgun blast to the chest —  immediately upon entering the festival grounds Trill Sammy and Dice Soho got to putting down some heavy trap rap; injecting the day with youthful zeal. Pulling in modest crowd numbers comparatively, both the volume of attendees and time of day was quite reminiscent of the Earl Sweatshirt show to kick off one of the days during last year’s Pemberton Fest; though that is about where the comparisons end between the rappers.

I have always maintained that live trap when done well can be a lot of fun, and Trill Sammy & Dice Soho brought that kind of trap to the day three menu. Genuine in their gratitude for those that were there for the show, the two jumped into the fracas crowd to ask them to personally record a crowd shout-out presumably for a future promo video.  If the style of rap they exhibit doesn’t appeal to you then chances are their charming personalities just might.

Immediately following the Trill Sammy & Dice Soho Mount Currie shenanigans was another entry from the Dreamville Records camp; Bas. This being the second time in as many years that The Fiendbassy has graced the Pemberton Festival as well as the second time this month the product of Queens has been in BC, the first time being three weeks ago when both he and Cozz put together audibly pristine performances at The Alexander Gastown. As a warm up or potentially as a lure, The Bass Camp stage was rumbling with the man who caused such a stir the night prior Bas’ producer, J. Cole. In terms of critiquing the show Bas’ part of the equation was solid, though after two festival shows and an intimate club show, not surprisingly the club fit him better than did the festival environment.  What surprised me the most was not that the product of Queens by way of France agreed to perform at the festival, but that the people in his camp agreed to the show coming from the very stage named after the implicit purpose of bass; especially considering that they had experienced a similar occurrence on that stage last year. This entire festival has had the bass cranked to eleven, often clipping the subtle nuisances of the finer points of production. As a rule Bas’ moody production lends itself better to a less bass heavy environment, but never more so on his latest release Too High To Riot.

After having had a last minute interview with Bill Kelliher of Mastodon, receive the Zuka kibosh (admittedly outside of the parameters that Zuka is comfortable with), and with the massive amount of electronic music at the festival, I was very prepared to get my metal on. For anyone who has ever seen Mastodon live they know that they are a getting consummately professional metal experience. Having been a fan since 2004’s Leviathan I have seen the band on multiple occasions and have never once been disappointed. Again, the higher notes on the guitar were lost often in the propensity for the audio boards to be set to upset the neighbours with bass mode.

Easily the most charming moment of the Mastodon set came when two police officers who very clearly positioned themselves at the festival for the purpose of taking in the  Mastodon show, were more than cordial about a 60 year old seasoned concert requesting to bump chests with the flak jackets adorned enforcement. Our hero then backed up to take a running start at one of the officers, upon getting to the officer both he and the cop jumped in the air, bumped chests with one another the likes of which sent our hero back about 30 feet, stumbling to stay up. He smiled and pushed the officer in joking fashion, but rather than take exception and proudly stand on his superior platform, the popo took it as it was intended and chose the metalhead route of cheering the 60 year old on and smacking his shoulder in good jest. At this time with the public’s unrest regarding ill executed police work being thrust into the spotlight it’s nice to see the good ol’ Royal Canadian Mounted Police just be human beings and enjoy the moment.

During “The Czar” one of the better songs one is ever likely to hear the Mastodon crowd began to thin out, not due to disapproval of the band; but due to how spoiled we have all been at Pemberton Fest 2016 and Billy Idol getting set for his hour in the kush cloud filled light.

Billy Idol is the f*^cking man! That’s it, nuff said. Having seen him perform for the first time when he was clearly sick and it still result in a terrific show, then to be followed up with an amazing and healthy performance at the Queen E Theatre and now the spectacle at Pemberton there is only one Rebel Yell that has crowds crying for ‘more, more, more’. All I ask out of Billy when I see him is that he play “Eyes Without a Face”, and thus far he has not let me down.

Whenever the timeless Idol comes through town I’ll be there singing his party anthems and maybe rocking a few Billy Idol poses, though nowhere close to the caliber with which my man rocks them.

Because of how long Mastodon went regrettably there was no opportunity to see Tory Lanez, in fact there were multiple talents missed from day three including Cheech and Chong, Wiz Khalifa, and the majority of Girl Talk. A performance that nobody expected me to miss and complete with the Menace2Society shirt I had made, I was sure to catch the man loyal to the Raiders, N.W.A. co-founder, Friday star and rap legend Ice Cube. Starting the set with “Natural Born Killers”, the Dr. Dre / Ice Cube track from the Murder Was The Case soundtrack only endeared himself to me even further. He played all the Cube jams, collaborative efforts and though he waited half the set to finally do it, some of that old-school N.W.A sweet stuff. Yes, including that one song about sexually fornicating the local law enforcement. All in all though he sweat a lot more now than in years back, Cube did well to prove that you can cast him in Are we There Yet, but the South Central L.A. product is still a long ways from being white washed.

The Killers after Cube was a hard left turn. They were The Killers, the same old pretentious Las Vegas crew that rarely plays shows, releases new albums or really does much of anything, sounded as they typically sound, almost good.

The fascinating outfit that is Die Antwoord hit it like it stole a package Saturday night. Basically the topic of every conversation after night three was the Die Antwoord performance. You could go into that show stone cold deaf and still walk out mesmerized by the creative and bizarre stage show the duo put on in collaboration with dancers and other performers. Truly something from another universe I highly recommend that if you’ve ever the opportunity to see Die Antwoord you follow through and do it. Don’t worry about whether you know the music or not, which is creative in its own regard, just go see the mind bending art that is Die Antwoord.

YG ended the night with a cocky set and demeanour that is attempting to overcompensate for his pedestrian rapping. Having stated that he was the only one to make it out of the west coast without (Dr.) Dre (Psst- Vince Staples), only to 15 minutes later play a Dre beat, YG was really just more offensive than he was funny or compelling. Despite the set being at a great time of the evening it felt long and on several levels contrived.

Day 4 On the Docket:

Dizzy Wright (Mysteriously now not on the bill?)


Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals

Vince Staples

Tyler, The Creator

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Craig Robinson & The Nasty Delicious

Pearl Jam