The Universal Language of Music: Rifflandia 2015
Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria, British Columbia showcases an eclectic array of musical talent at over 17 venues in the downtown area. Each of the four nights and three days demonstrated how the language of music and dance is both multicultural and multigenerational. The following recap is my personal experience of how music is nondiscriminatory and how it can penetrate the soul and fill one’s heart with both passion and vitality.
Thursday night’s adventures began at Capital Iron with my best friend in order to catch The Humans’ opening set. At first I was curious as to why they chose to host the loud electronic music in an outdoor venue, but as the night progressed and sweaty faces beamed with vigor I understood that the cool night air was exactly what patrons needed.
I was impressed with The Human’s minimal house which progressively intensified as they ended and was blown away by a track they played that I can only describe as a drum and bass breakbeat which, as it sped up, was replaced by the sound of bongo drums. By 9pm things were bumping and both the all-ages side of the venue and the 19+ side were full. Walshy Fire then hit hard with trap while hands flew in the air when the tribal drums set in. The decks were then handed over to Torro Torro who played party friendly heavy basslines and opened things up perfectly for Jillionaire to play his headlining set full of remixes and crowd favourites.
At this point I headed over to catch Spaceboots at ANIAN. While I sipped fireball with friends I attempted to avoid the trainwreck that was occurring on the outskirts of the crowd between ANIAN and Capital Iron. Spaceboots’ almost naked and tattooed bodies tantalized the crowd with their hair flipping goodness. At this point it was time to hit Wolf Sheep where Rennie Foster pulled at my heartstrings as he played deep house tunes that reminded me of a mutual friend, pioneer and staple in Victoria’s Electronic Music Scene, who had passed many years ago. Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness closed things down with their hilarious hats, capes and crowns. Their music threw me back to Burning Man with the hard house baselines and interpretive barefoot dancer who twisted and swayed at the back of the stage. The language of music was strong with these DJs; you could tell they were piecing together their set right before our eyes as they pointed and made steady eye contact with one another: it was as if the crowns they wore helped them to read each others’ minds. By the end of their set Wolf Sheep was buzzing with energy stolen from the tracks they had just danced to.
Friday started off at the Royal Athletic Park just in time to watch the clouds roll in around 6pm. Quite frankly the music was as menacing as the clouds with the offensively bad timing of hardcore Rap at an all-ages event. Due to the cancellation of Chromeo the schedule was changed and personally, I believe the addition (to remain nameless) to the schedule was poorly placed, or someone should have at least told them it was an all-ages event. The absolute highlight of my evening was A Tribe Called Red who demonstrated, with their ground thumping tribal calls, how culture can be best understood through music and dance. With their CK Lewis samples and ornate dancers, A Tribe Called Red shared their First Nations culture with patrons young and old. My favourite track was their Cherokee Nation song which boasted garage basslines of epic speed. And to top it all off, each member sang along to their favourite tracks. Although my friends and I were suffering from ailments pertaining to over-consumption the night before, their set reminded me that music fixes everything, sore tummies, sleep deprivation and even hunger.
The evening then consisted of jumping from venue to venue so it became hard to keep track. However, I couldn’t forget watching Illvis Freshly own their chosen instruments (turntables, electric guitars and vocals) at Sunset Room. These boys are, hands down, my favourite up-and-coming artists in Victoria and it was such an experience to watch them rock Rifflandia this year.
The evening’s highlight was the addition of Neon Steve to the Capital Iron lineup. Steve started things off with heavy, sexy basslines that hit the crowd hard and made them want more. The crowd danced together, yet each patron was alone in their personal moments; a silent yet bass-driven conversation occurred between all dancers without one word spoken. It was as if the divider between all-ages and 19+ was invisible.
My Saturday favourite was Kiesza who, by the end of her set, I totally had a crush on. Not only did she have a backup babe dancing crew but she double high-kicked her way into my heart. Unfortunately the rain set in around 9:30pm but Mat the Alien brightened things up with a slamming set, ending in my favourite type of electronic music: drum and bass, and liquid funk. As always, another local favourite, Longwalkshortdock put on a performance of a life time with his amazing stage presence, despite the scramble prior to his set to protect his equipment from the relentless rain.
I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to roll out of bed in time on Sunday to see one of my favourites, Jesse Roper. I arrived in time to check out Hollerado, who rocked cute onesies and whose synchronized guitar solos and jumping blew my mind. “It was like they were sharing a brain” quoted Phil Lyons of Illvis Freshly. Julian Casablancas + The Voidz were the perfect choice as an opening act to Mother Mother, who closed down the festival with songs that most of us sang along to, arms around our friends new and old.
Thank you so much to Rifflandia Music Festival and Atomique Productions for having me and my media team, The Real Matt Love and Xavier Photography aka #theloveclub #riffraffmediacrew. I had THE BEST time and can’t wait until next year.
Kalisi Luv <3 #staygenuine