Skyline Stage lives up to hype on day two of Skookum Festival

Missy D, Midnight Shine, Rodrigo y Gabriela, St. Vincent, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, the War on Drugs and Metric at Brockton Fields, 9/8/18

War On Drugs. Photos by Kristina Kimlickova.

The Skyline Stage finally opened on day two of Skookum Festival (Sept. 8) and featured a handful of the weekend’s most anticipated acts. Elsewhere at Skookum, less established acts won new fans while impressing those who were already in the know.

In a bilingual flow of English and French, Missy D showed there is no school, old or new, that can define her style of hip hop. She laid down what she calls “Rap & Soul.”

“There’s something in my melanin,” she sang, drawing attention to her roots in Rwanda, Cote d’lvoire, and Zimbabwe.

But although she and her band were soulful – and unspeakably funky – they melded hard rock and rap on songs like “XX” – but with fiddle.

Attawapiskat singer Adrian Sutherland cobbled his band, Midnight Shine, together to open for Trooper eight years ago. Their chemistry was so good, they have stuck together ever since. Sutherland introduced a new drummer, though. But she was clearly skilled and a quick learner, because Midnight Shine’s tight pop-rock and sweeping choruses seemed too big for the Forest Stage at 3 p.m.

Midnight Shine at Skookum Festival. Photos by Kristina Kimlickova

On the Skyline Stage, Ireland-via-Mexico’s Rodrigo y Gabriela wowed the audience over and over again with virtuosic acoustic instrumentals. The duo even covered Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” with the audience filling in as Rage’s vocalist Zach de la Rocha.

Next was St. Vincent. Rain poured during half of her set, but that did not stop her adoring fans from dancing. She held their attention like a weapon on songs like “Masseduction” and “Cheerleader.” She switched guitars throughout the first 35 minutes of her 50-minute set. Most of them were a single neon colour. All of them were a version of the signature guitar she designed in collaboration with Ernie Ball Music Man.

Midnight Shine at Skookum Festival. Photos by Kristina Kimlickova

Following St. Vincent, the War on Drugs took the audience on a heady trip filled with soaring guitar solos. Monumental songs like “Pain” were perfect dusk music, soundtracks to aimless drives out of town with no mission except to get away. More joints were lit during the War on Drugs than at any other set. The band’s fans went prepared.

Although politically charged rappers Snotty Nose Rez Kids were tucked inconveniently between St. Vincent and the War on Drugs, the Kids were worth slipping over to see at the Meadow Stage, even if only for a few songs. Not only is their 2017 album The Average Savage shortlisted for the Polaris Prize this year, their mood was joyous. “Yo, we celebratin’ a pipeline victory!” they heroically announced. Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce, who both come from the Haisla Nation in Kitimat, welcomed breakdancers and DJ Kookum who reprised her role as beat-handler.

War On Drugs. Photos by Kristina Kimlickova.

Metric closed out the Mountain Stage. In front of what looked like silver drapes from a far distance, Metric banged out “Combat Baby,” “Breathing Underwater,” “Monster Hospital,” “Help I’m Alive,” and more. “Where my girls at?” singer Emily Haines asked before the band launched into the buzzy rocker “Gold Guns Girls.” She also played guitar on this one, but James Shaw, the band’s primary guitarist, handled the song’s scintillating solo.

By 9:30 pm, 15 minutes before Metric’s set ended, half of their audience had left the Mountain Stage. It was, as Haines sang, “now or never” to grab a decent spot to see Saturday’s top headliner Florence + the Machine at the Skyline Stage. To find out how Florence’s set went, read Laura Sciarpelletti’s recap of Skookum Festival day two here.

Leslie Ken Chu

Leslie Ken Chu