Three days and nights of arts and crafts in the park, food truck cuisine, local libations, crazy costumes, and last but certainly not least, just about every genre of music being played live on two stages across Royal Athletic Park.
Things kicked off at Rifflandia Music Festival on Thursday night with bands of all kinds playing at 16 (!) different venues around Victoria, plus one venue designated just for comedy acts. As if that weren’t expansive enough, this increased to a total of 19 venues for Friday and Saturday nights, including the comedy venue.
It can be hard to choose who to see when there are that many options, but do your research ahead of time, and you can map out some pretty decent nights of music for yourself. First up on my agenda was Yes We Mystic, a 5-piece group out of Winnipeg. They were playing at the Mint, a trendy underground (literally) restaurant in the heart of downtown Victoria, and a new venue this year for Rifflandia. The show actually took place in a small room adjoining the main part of the restaurant, a room called the Haberdashery: picture brick walls, warm lighting, leather couches and just a few tables, an intimate start to the festival.
The undeniably passionate music of Yes We Mystic was made even more impactful by the small, cozy space they were playing in. Outfitted with a mandolin, cello, guitars, keyboards, drums and vocals, this band is really an orchestra, albeit a tiny one. This is a group that not only appears dedicated to making thorough use of their instruments, but who, intriguingly, even treat their vocals as instruments. The band members were so into their music, it was as though their bodies were actually composed of it. These guys have total knowledge of their instruments, inside out, upside down and backwards. As just one example of their incredible instrument expertise, at one point, the keyboardist with the mandolin moved over to the other keyboard and proceeded to play it from the “wrong” side. If you have to be crammed like sardines into a tiny little room with a lot of other people, this has got to be the ideal circumstance, being enveloped in large powerful swells of beautiful music. This was the bands first time playing in Victoria; they were also slated to play the Copper Owl on the Friday night and the audience there would definitely be in for a treat.