It was a quintessentially Canadian scene, soaring mountains, lush fields and 10,000 tipsy people singing along to the Hip. LIVE at Squamish’s Saturday lineup was predominantly Canadian but diverse. There were classic crowd-pleasers The Tragically Hip but also new local bands like Gold & Youth. Saturday started on a grim note with two accidents on the Sea-to-Sky highway causing significant delays. Once festival goers finally arrived at Loggers Sports Ground they were all too ready to party.
Saturday kicked off with local bands Facts and Young Pacific as well as a few American acts like Charles Bradley. A longtime James Brown impersonator turned soul and R&B singer, Bradley was one of the most interesting acts to grace the Garibaldi stage. Wintersleep put on a solid performance and played hits like “Weighty Ghost” to an appreciative crowd. The Sheepdogs were well suited to the outdoor festival setup. Their raucous Southern rock really got the crowd going. Big beasts of rock songs “Who” and “I Don’t Know” just sounded right reverberating off the cliffs and pine trees. If you squinted at their shaggy beards and headbands you could almost pretend you were in Woodstock – a Woodstock with more portable toilets and less free love of course. Speaking of bathroom facilities, there were long lineups for those and for the ATM all day. With the festival not even at full capacity, the organizers should consider expanding those next year. This did not dampen the mood though, everyone seemed happy to be enjoying the music in such a beautiful setting. The festival was a nice mix of families with headphone-wearing tots running around and rowdy groups of twenty-somethings. The two groups co-existed nicely as heavy drinkers were contained to the Molson Beer Gardens.
Vancouver electro group Humans got one of the biggest responses of the night even though they played the tiny Meadow stage. By the end of their set the stage had turned into one big dance floor as fans exuberantly jumped up and down with the band. The smaller Meadow and Garibaldi stages seemed to encourage more dancing and felt more intimate than the main Stawamus stage. The nearby Silent Disco also helped create a more fun atmosphere on this side of the festival. Of course Stawamus featured festival headliners The Tragically Hip. Young and old flocked to see them for some old fashioned lighter waving and sing alongs. Lead singer Gordon Downie was in fine form and entertained the crowd with enigmatic dance moves and banter.
Beats Antique had one of the best sets of the night. This is what all festival performances should be like. There was a fire dancer, burlesque girls and David Satori dancing like he was possessed in a zebra head mask. Needless to say, the crowd loved it and much dancing and hula hooping ensued. It was a whirling heady mix of gypsy tunes, Arabic music, electronic beats and violin solos. Beats Antique were followed by Montreal electro duo Chromeo. The Hip was over and everyone migrated to the Garibaldi stage for the last band of the night. You could feel that nobody wanted to return to their cold tent just yet. Chromeo delivered the goods with an energetic set of catchy electro-pop tunes. Dave 1 was also wearing an impressive pair of leather trousers. The cold Squamish air on my bare legs made me very jealous indeed. By the end of the night I was weary but had warmed up from dancing. As I headed to the parking lot I was feeling elated. I was happy, first of all, not to be camping, but I was also on a high from the great day of Canadian music I had just experienced. Thanks LIVE at Squamish – hope to see you next year!