Entering Pemberton Music Festival 2014 on the Thursday afternoon you’re greeted by festival crews ready to direct you into the magic that is Pemberton campsites. Many a folk bitched and moaned at the 15-minute walk to the campsite but this is farmland and that’s not how things work so suck it up bitches and moaners. Arriving to the camping area you’re divided into provinces like the site is one mini-Canada. Walking through the main path hay stretches out as far as the eye can see with golden twinkling lanterns guiding your way through the dark Pemberton nights. The spirits were high as the chicken fights commenced.
Waking on the Friday morning to the battle-cries of drunkards who never slept I was ready to enter the festival. Stumbling out of my campsite and into the grounds I started to notice what the dark had hidden from me the night before. Surrounded by the towering mountains in the Valley of Mount Currie, this festival was one to be remembered and it hadn’t even started yet.
Walking around in awe I was flabbergasted at the kind of environment HUKA Entertainment was able to create for its festivalgoer’s. There were many “shrines” to nature that stretched high in sky and allowed you to meet up with friends or seclude yourself from the madness that is Pemberton. And that’s not where HUKA’s thoughtfulness for partiers ended. With a zip-line stretching through the festival grounds, a waterslide mid-festival and a giant squishy ball pit the festival had more then just HUGE music appeal sucking you into its vortex.
“The HUKA promoters along with Evenko in Montreal are the BEST at curating fun backstage experiences for the artists. HUKA is also amazing at doing the same for the concergoer. They make sure there are tons of activities in addition to great music at the fest so the whole thing has this great setup. I thought the audiences were incredibly sweet and pumped to have a good time too and there was this rare thing that happened where one was able to get as close as they wanted to any artist just by going 5 minutes early as opposed to other fests that have an hour or more wait time before a big act. “ –Rich Aucoin
Photo Cred: Jordan Tucker
Stumbling around the grounds in awe I had almost forgotten about the music when the soulful voice of ZZ Ward pulled me towards her. Taking to the stage with fiery passion ZZ Ward touched my soul with her fully boisterous yet smoky voice. Her sound is hard to pinpoint so why not let the artist herself say it; “Back-porch blues meets hip hop, it’s dirty shine.” Make sure to download her debut album and get your dirty shine on.
The next artist attracting me to their kaleidoscopic waves was Shlohmo. Shlohmo’s slow motion drums and rippling bass drops attracted the psychedelic train to the bass camp creating an environment in which one can lose oneself to the sonance that is Shlohmo. With a towering setup of blaringly hallucinatory lights projected over his daunting figure in the sky Shlohmo had the crowd dancing to his bass levels like only he knows how.
Grimes was next up taking to the stage like an adorable harajuku girl prancing about in her flouncy blue dress. She was like a radiant electro rag-doll. Nearing the end of the set Grimes asked the crowd to dance as she dropped the heavy bass version, Blood-Diamond-produced combo of “Phone Sex and “Go” (which was rejected by Rhianna.) Shit Rhianna you really shat the bed on that one. With Grimes hair flowing behind her to her epic bass bumps I sprinted to Tyler the Creator to see the cocky agro asshole in action.
Tyler the Creator was as usual his candid thrashing self, yelling shit like “There are like 8 black people here. Mother Fuckers we out-numbered. “ While Tyler is definitely an entertaining energy his actual music doesn’t do it for me. His performance is more of a comedic act with some disturbing bipolar rap/rants to follow. No disrespect to Odd Future because as a team they kill it but Tyler the Creator just doesn’t do it for me without his crew there to back him up. They sure do know how to throw a party for their fans, holding a pop-up shop and full skate-park. Tyler and the crew stuck around to skate with the fans in their very own skate park dance party.
Suddenly I was running again and this time it was to Rich Aucoin, the creative mastermind behind visual and musical chaos. Taking to the stage attracting a small yet rapidly growing crowd Rich Aucoin got the crowd going launching confetti bombs and throwing a rainbow parachute into the crowd which became a giant childhood dance sesh. Propelling himself into the crowd, the crowd joined Rich and became part of the performance. Rich got the crowd to put their hands towards him encapsulating Rich in a mob of octopus hands for “The Greatest Secret In The World.” The only thing that could have made this performance better was if he were riding around on a Unicorn, Rich agreed.
Photo Cred: Mack Wallace
Photo Cred: Mack Wallace
Kendrick Lamar was the next performance on my roaster. The crowd was getting antsy, it had been an hour and the man was nowhere in sight. Everyone was chanting his name creating a booming ambience that you’d think would pull the man onstage. Yet he was still nowhere to be found. And then a helicopter flew overheard. What was happening? Rumors circulated the festival and my most trust-worthy source says one of the amps blew out and they had to helicopter another one in. But can you really trust musicians who tell you the inside-info? Who knows? What I do know is that once Kendrick took to the stage people went from pissed to radiating happiness in a full-fledged 30 seconds. Flanked by a live band Kendrick laid down tracks like “Backseat Freestyle” and “m.A.A.d. city.” The audience went ballistic when Kendrick rocked out to A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems” and when Schoolboy Q appeared onstage to throw down “Collard Greens.” Kendrick’s fluidity and humble gentlemen’s composure is something that most rapper’s these days are missing. His prestige that takes a flowing meaning through his composure, art, and overall presence had the crowd captivated at every word. Leaving the stage thanking the fans, Kendrick performance had alleviating power that captured the audience in tears of joy.
From Kendrick to NIne Inch Nails the night was about to take a turn for the weird with the stage set for Nine Inch Nails and the crowd anticipating Trent Reznor. He came onstage without warning holding a drum machine as the lights flickered on, playing “Copy of A” the rest of the band members entered the stage. The stage was set with dramatic visuals displayed over each band member’s bodies creating silhouetted boxes of each member. Taking a step back form the raging crowd I watched the show from afar creating this dramatic detachment of glory. Nine Inch Nails played a show that went down in Pemberton’s history.
The night came to a weird yet cathartic circle with Schoolboy Q running onstage yelling “They finally let me into Canada.” This was Schoolboy Q’s first performance in Canada and the audience of Pemberton Music Festival were some lucky people to witness it. Dropping tracks such as “Hell of a Night,” and “Break the Bank” Q had the crowd turnt up into the sky. Kendrick jumped onstage for an encore performance of “Collard Greens” to which the crowd went nuts…again. The bucket-hat filled crowd was in the clouds dancing like it was the last night of their lives. Schoolboy Q’s first trip to Canada will surely not be his last.
Photo Cred: Nicola Storey