Newlywed and nearly dead? Not at Rifflandia 2013. [Pt.2]

Check out what happened on Friday at Rifflandia with performances by Courtney Love and Classified.


From country to DJs to hip hop to rock, Saturday at Rifflandia was the epitome of a “music kaleidoscope”.

I arrived at 2:20 to catch the last half of St. Lucias set, having missed Hey Marseilles, Limblifter and Corb Lund because of my need to go for a hike up Mount Finlayson before heading to R.A.P. for the day. Following St. Lucia’s high energy set was an equally energetic performance by Hot, Hot, Heat. Lead singer, Steve Bays, bounced from stage left to stage right, hanging above his keyboard, then crouching below, and levelling with the crowd so as to provide a more intimate feeling in the open space.

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Sadly, the crowd lacked the energy to match his and seemingly had a hard time to even clap their hands when prompted. Hungover? Maybe. Lame? Definitely. I’m not sure why it is so common in BC for people to stand stagnant in front of live music unless inebriated or in the dark. As a West Coaster myself, I guess you could call me rebellious, as I even dance whilst in the photo pit when not capturing the action.

Following Hot Hot Heat, Chali 2na took the stage in the Rifftop Tent and majorly rocked the crowd, appearing shocked by the response that he received.

“Does Victoria like hip hop??” He screamed. Apparently they do.

By the time USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) took the stage, more beers had clearly been consumed by the festival-goers, evident by the amount of energy in the crowd. Even if that wasn’t the case, it was hard not to find the duo’s energy infectious. Lead singer, Jason “Human Kebab” Parsons crowd-surfed during the song, “Anti-Venom” and decided to do a handstand in the middle of another song. They behaved like college sophomores, and the audience ate it up.

“Victoria, you having a time at Riff? Honestly, this is one of the most unique festivals we’ve played at.”

USS has traveled to nine different countries and they do it entirely on their own dime. As you can imagine, it’s expensive to tour, so in order to stay afloat they’re running a pledge campaign called #letsgetweirdtogether. The minimum donation is $10, but the higher the donation the bigger the perk that comes with it. Some include signed albums, handwritten lyric sheets and acoustic Skype performances, while they all include an advanced download of their new album. It’s a unique pledge campaign that I can’t help but plug for them.

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I have little to say about Death from Above 1979, simply because I’m not a huge fan of heavy metal aka “noise rock”. My friend Joey, on the other hand, is very familiar with DFA and loved their performance, stating, “It was fucking awesome! How do a bass player and drummer make that much noise?”

Okay, so that’s not actually what he said, but I’m sure that’s what some of the people in the crowd were thinking as they headbanged and formed a small mosh pit in front of the stage.  Here are his actual thoughts:

“A reunited DFA came onstage and showed the audience it wasn’t just a nostalgia act as they churned out tight, piston-like hits and lesser-known tracks from their catalogue. They made the audience dance and sweat, rendering them awestruck over the fact that two dudes could be the loudest band on the bill. They were tight, furious and fun, with a little off-kilter stage banter from drummer Sebastien Grainger.”

After jumping from venue to venue, making it to Phillips Brewery, Vic Event Centre, Alix Goolden Hall and Wood Hall, my friend Maddy (from Car Free Vancouver) and I ended up in line at Metro Theatre. Those with regular passes waited for up to three hours to get in, while those in the VIP and media line waited up to 45 minutes. Who were they waiting anxiously for? The one and only, Hawksley Workman. 

As I stood in line thinking of better ways in which I could be spending my time, I scoffed at the fact that the Rifflandia organizing committee put a guy like Hawksley in such a small venue.  Once seated inside with the vocals flowing , I realized how perfect the venue actually was for him: intimate, dark, fantastic acoustics. Hawksley put on a mind-blowing show and held the audience entranced and dazzled the entirety of his set.

“I’m so grateful you’re all here. Can you imagine how awkward it would be if you weren’t? I would be able to hear my voice bouncing off of the stairs.” He humbly announced.

During the first few songs, Hawksley acted like a marionette, throwing his legs here, there and everywhere; it looked like he had ADHD the way he abruptly changed actions. This behaviour eventually subsided, but you still never knew what to expect as he’d pause in the middle of some songs to ad-lib for a while. It looked like he was having a hell of a time up there, acting as casually as he dressed in his toque, dress shirt, and jeans.

“I know you were expecting a professional show, right?” Hawksley joked as he asked his pianist, Todd Lumley aka “Mr. Lonely”, what chord he should be playing in when he decided to have a go at it.

As if Hawksley on his own wasn’t enough, Hot Hot Heat’s Steve Bays and Limblifter’s Ryan Dahle joined him on stage to sing a song. The trio joined forces earlier this year to form a band called Mounties. It was endearing to see how two men who seem to be so confident when with their other bands all of a sudden became shy that night when joining Hawksley.

At the end of the show, Hawksley received a well-deserved standing applause that, of course, was followed by an encore. Afterwards, I (and many others) bought a CD. I bought Milk, but was tempted to buy all three, as well as a record. Currently, Hawskley’s songs preponderate the other artists’ songs on my Autumn playlist on Grooveshark. My favourites: Piano Blink (new), We’ll Make Time, Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off, Autumns Here, Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky and Smoke Baby.

For (many) more photos check out my #Riff2013 set on Flickr. Unfortunately, there are none of Hawksley because I left my camera behind that night so that I could party it up in my hometown.


One thought on “Newlywed and nearly dead? Not at Rifflandia 2013. [Pt.2]

  1. Pingback: Newlywed and nearly dead? Not at Rifflandia 2013. | Marionate Overnight

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