Rifflandia took Victoria by storm as locals veered away from their local hangouts, and Vancouverites ventured oversea to spend a weekend dancing, singing, drinking and socializing in the heart of BC’s capital city.
With an array of artists from all different genres ranging from country lovin’ Corb Lund, to the blingin’ Big Boi and the husky, wild woman, Courtney Love, the festival drew a diverse crowd from young to old, and conservative to liberal.
While the festival is technically a three-night, three-day festival that starts on Thursday night and ends on Sunday night, the first show for me was Mr. Luke Boyd, more commonly known as Classified.
Classified was recognized in mainstream media in 2009 from his hit song, “Anybody Listening” and he proved to be a highly anticipated act for many at Rifflandia 2013. While playing some of his older songs that put him on the charts, he also busted out his newer songs such as the popular “Inner Ninja” which – in case you didn’t catch it from the name – actually has a pretty strong message behind it.
…I’ve been high and I’ve been real low
I’ve been beaten and broken but I healed though
So many ups and downs, roughed up and clowned
We all got problems, but we deal though
I’m tryin’ to do better now, find my inner peace
Learn my art form, and find my energy
When my backs on the wall, I don’t freeze up
Nah, I find my inner strength and I re-up….
I’ve had bad habits but I dropped ’em
I’ve had opponents but I knocked them out
I climbed the highest mountains
I’ve swum the coldest seas
There ain’t a thing I’ve faced that’s been too much for me….
Classified is a white rapper. But he’s not the first to break the stereotype, following in the footsteps of the “one and only” Eminem. He still sings about smoking pot and drinking but he often does it in a jovial “pop-like” manner. And with a killer smile like that, his swear words sound a lot less harsh.
“I don’t drink much, and I don’t fuck with the hard shit, but I do smoke a lot of weed.” – Classified
Following Classified’s act on the main stage was the “lovely” Courtney Love. Rough around the edges both vocally and in appearance, she still had the crowd in a trance as they scrambled to catch the roses she threw and sang the words to all of her songs. After all, she is the highest profile artist to grace the stage at Rifflandia.
“Shit you not, it was a 24 hour flight to get here. And I flew coach….I spent 25 years like all the rest of you…I’ve had enough. They even put me in the Comfort Inn…”
I met a young woman in the front row who grew up listening to Nirvana and Hole. As I danced with her I could see the glee emanating from her face as she swayed from side to side gazing intently at the bleached blonde train wreck in front of us. To be honest, I was expecting Courtney be a little meaner, but instead she was (mostly) polite and seemingly thankful to have another opportunity to perform at the ripe age of (nearly) 50.
“I am a fair maiden, I can’t fend for myself. (Pause) Don’t you fucking know it!!”
As everything closed up at Royal Athletic Park, festival goers dispersed to the venues throughout the city: Market Square, Phillips Brewery, Alix Goolden Hall, Club 9One9, Vic Event Centre, Lucky Bar, Metro Theatre, Rehab Nightclub, Wood Hall, Copper Owl and Studio CMCT.
Z Trip replaced Danny Brown at the Phillips Brewery due to Brown’s criminal record prohibiting him from entering Canada. Despite taking a double-shift that day, Z Trip rocked the house, remixing old and new hip hop songs and encouraging crowd surfing to occur, much to the dismay of the security guards.
Action Bronson, who followed Z Trip, received a less impressive response, as many seemed to leave the show to their next destination mid-way through. That said, the lead-up to the show was grandiose with the crowd chanting his name to expedite the setup process and get to the performance.
“Somebody pass me some drugs.” – Action Bronson
At the end of the night, after copious amounts of Phillips’ Rifflandbrau and Merridale’s House Cider, it dawned on me that I had two more full days of music and beer ahead of me. As I walked on Douglas street I was feeling stoked about it all, until I hopped on a bus and I was enveloped in the smell of vomit and sweat as I nestled up to a crowd of young and old, drunk and sober, costumed and ordinary.