My experience at @LIVEatSquamish – guest post by @AndreaLoewen
I was the lucky winner of our good friend Hummingbird604’s Live @ Squamish giveaway. Not only did I get two free passes to the new Live @ Squamish festival, but I got two nights at the Howe Sound Inn & Brewery, and a jet boat ride. All in all, this was a pretty amazing prize that I managed to rope my fellah into joining me on. (Believe it our not, I’m not being sarcastic with that comment – he is one of the rare people who doesn’t really like music that much. Luckily he likes me, so he came anyways.)
First thing I noticed – Squamish is way closer than I always thought it would be! I’m not really an “outdoorsy” type person so I don’t visit Whistler all that much, and being a typical Vancouverite, everything outside the city’s borders seems ridiculously far away. Not only is Squamish close by however, it’s also actually a pretty cool place! The one-street “downtown” is full of shops and restaurants, including one devoted solely to grilled cheese sandwiches. If I didn’t work in the arts (and thus need to be in a large-ish city) I might actually think about living there. Well, okay, let’s not get too carried away. I might go there once and a while for some grilled cheese.
Our first stop was the hotel and we were impressed. The décor is clean and rustic with lots of wood, decorations involving fish (the fellah was all over those), and lots of white linens. Comfy beds, sweet amenities, and a warm pub won this place some serious bonus points. The only downsides: low soundproofing, a shower that made a high-pitched squeal, and that the front desk staff didn’t seem to know much about the festival (like where it was located).
The festival itself was nothing if not swell. It seemed a little under-attended, which I hope won’t deter them from a repeat performance next year – a festival like this might need a little warm-up time for people. And maybe a few more well-known acts to headline. Not that they didn’t have some amazing groups. The top of my list was Mother Mother and The Decemberists who both put on amazing shows. There is nothing better than watching people putting their entire heart and soul into what their doing on stage. Especially when their heart and soul produce such lovely tunes as “O My Heart” and “Billy Liar”. Then of coursse there was The Tokyo Police Club, We Are The City, Hollerado, and Sweet Soul Burlesque. They also had some wandering performers The Lawn girls and eatART installation art happening live before their eyes.
A special event for me was seeing You Say Party again. It was their first concert after the tragic passing of their drummer Devon, as well as their first concert after my sister left the band. They played some new and old material and sounded absolutely fantastic, but it was more than a little strange for me to watch them in their new incarnation. Towards the end of their set lead singer Becky jumped down into the divide between the stage and audience and started touching and singing to individual audience members. A move that may have seemed cheesy in other circumstances was to me a beautiful tribute to their fans at their first time on stage after some incredibly difficult times.
The downside of any festival is having to pick and choose, knowing you’ll miss some great acts (Said The Whale, I’m sorry), but overall I had a fab time lounging on my blanket at the mainstage all day Sunday.
I love the sense of humour the organizers of Live @ Squamish had with themselves. The necessary list of things you can and can’t do was referred to as the “no fun” list – and blessedly, things that weren’t included on that list were the typical prohibition of ins and outs and of bringing your own food and drinks into the festival.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to check out the jet boat as the only times they had available were during the festival and we had our priorities. Theoretically we can head back any time though, so maybe in a few weeks (or half a year when it gets warm again) I’ll have more to write about them.
Andrea Loewen has her own theatre production company, does the marketing for Pacific Theatre and can be reached at @AndreaLoewen.