Rock the Shores 2016 Recap Part One
written by Clynton Brooks
If you’re anything like me, you’ve had July 22nd – 24th marked on your calendar, in big fat permanent marker ink, as “Rock the Shores!” since early Spring. Atomique Productions put on arguably it’s best rendition of this years event this past weekend in front of record breaking crowds during the three day festival.
It’s worth starting out by talking about the venue itself. I showed up early on Day 2 to get my bearings together and avoid any possibility of waiting in a long line-up. Within five minutes I was checked in, through the front gates and set off into the glow of what would prove to be the highlight of my entire Summer thus far.
My first impression was that there couldn’t be a more perfect spot for a music festival than West Shore Parks & Rec Centre. The venue is surrounded almost entire entirely by greenery, the air is fresh and calming and I’m without-a-doubt convinced there is no greener grass anywhere else on the planet.
The second thing I noticed was the massive lineup of parked food trucks and vendors set out for festival-goers to choose from, as the fine folks at Phillips Brewing were wonderful enough to supply beer for the event with a wide selection of local brews on tap for festival attendees to enjoy (responsibly, of course).
Things were going just as planned: The weather was perfect, the vibe was just right, a girl made eye contact with me, and I remembered to bring sunscreen. I couldn’t wait to make my way to the stage to check out the opening act who had just taken the floor, Mr. Fintan O’Brien.
19 year old O’Brien, born in Birmingham and now living in Victoria BC, played a beautiful set alongside his band mates to start off the nights festivities. The crowd really came alive as he prepared to play his fan favorite single “Overwhelmed”, and someone near the front yelled “Shutup and sing!” to which Fintan and co happily obliged. I had the pleasure of briefly catching up with Fintan after his humble yet extraordinary set, where he mentioned how much of an honor it was to play amongst such an outstanding lineup of bands and artists.
Year of the Wolf were second on the Day 2 list and took things from Fintan’s light, poppy and romantic demeanor into a more rock enthused and grungy, yet melodic, mood. The crowd undoubtedly enjoyed what the Vancouver natives brought to the stage as they played song after song of their powerfully diverse brand of indie rock and roll.
Edmonton’s Royal Tusk, led by lead singer and guitarist Daniel Carriere, played a remarkable set filled with heavy hitting bass riffs and memorably sparkly lead guitars, fueled by Carriere’s keen ability to weave his lavish vocal melodies into the mix. This was where I felt the entire show really come alive.. Royal Tusk really turned things up and had the crowd roaring for more for the entirety of their set. Expect great things from these guys in the future, and let’s hope they make a return to our cherished island in the near future.
The husband and wife duo of Drew and Danielle McTaggart – or as you may know them, Dear Rouge – were up next; and much to everyone’s delight, I might add. Danielle dazzled the crowd right from the bands opening song as she gracefully marched all over the stage, moving with all her elegance and singing with perfect pitch. The crowd went absolutely berserk as Dear Rouge played the first notes to lead into their hit track “Best Look Lately”, as Danielle steered that energy into every song thereafter, predominantly featuring hits from their latest and first full length release “Black to Gold”.
Alt rock heavyweights Big Wreck were next to grace center stage, as Ian Thornley and the boys wasted no time blasting onlookers with hits ranging from 1994’s marvel of an album “In Loving Memory…” to 2014’s “Ghosts”. If you’re a fan and you’ve never seen them live (as I hadn’t), stop wasting time and get out there for one of their shows! Ian brought a presence and professionalism to the stage that was impossible to ignore, and his guitar playing was outstanding in every way. The sounds were crisp and clean and when they played their 90’s hit “Blown Wide Open” the crowd absolutely lit up, singing along with love and intent. A performance I won’t soon be forgetting, if ever.7-piece veteran Indie Rockers The New Pornographer’s, hailing from Vancouver, did nothing short of please fans as they played a tight set of songs new and old. With a lively stage performance from everyone involved, these guys never cease to amaze.
Just as the sun was beginning to go down below the skyline, cast by the trees and buildings adorning the perimeter of the Rock the Shores compound, The Cat Empire was taking stage. It was immediately evident that this was a fan favorite to many in attendance, and it’s safe to say we all quickly found out why. The Cat Empire, fronted by vocalist and percussionist Felix Riebl, as well as vocalist and trumpet player James Angus, brought the day’s first taste of jazz and ska, layered with a sort of Brazilian fusion feel. Their upbeat brand of fun loving ska-jazz hooks and melodies had the crowd bouncing swaying as the day steadily merged into night, just in time for the headlining act.
Dallas Green, ex-guitarist and vocalist for post hardcore quintet Alexisonfire in the early 2000’s, released his first solo acoustic effort “Sometimes”, under the name City and Colour back in 2005. In 2006 that same record went Platinum. Since then, Dallas has released numerous albums as , reaching critical acclaim and international success. As the sky was going that navy blue-purple shade it turns in the summer, just before it goes black, Dallas Green and his band members took the stage and went directly into their unmistakably swoon inducing, nostalgic brand of acoustic/indie rock brilliance. For me, the melancholy of songs like “If I Should Go Before You” and “Woman” intermingled with their more upbeat tracks like “Fragile Bird” and “Killing Time” were the perfect way to end a day that left me virtually speechless in more ways than one.
With that, and after watching the last act of the night exit the stage; feet sore, camera full, and craving a cold beer, I made my way to the main exit. Was I excited to come back and do it all over again the next afternoon? Honestly.. I was so stoked I could barely sleep.
Check out part 2 HERE!
all rights reserved
written by Clynton Brooks – all photos ©clynton brooks