LIVE at Squamish: Day 1
It seems like over the past week, everyone has been buzzing about LIVE at Squamish. Are you going? Where are you staying? Who are you most excited to see? The build up around this event has been incredible in comparison to even just last year, when I didn’t even hear about it.
I am thrilled with how well the first day went. Although a few glitches did occur, such as one stage falling extremely behind in time and throwing off another stage, but overall the festival was pretty well organized. Of course, despite the friendly volunteers and staff, food trucks, artisan village, and other cool add-ons, the music was by far the biggest and best attraction.
Here are a few highlights from my first day in Squamish:
Proper Villians – This Surrey band won their way into LIVE at Squaish through the METRO presents contest. Many people I talked to said they sounded like the Black Eyed Peas. Their radio hit Your Heart sounded great, but it was the only song I recognized.
Hey Ocean! – I was looking forward to HO! and very luckily got to meet them before they hit the stage. The music was cute and beachy, as always. Ashleigh Ball was great at adding in some crowd participation, including a blow-up shark: Sharky. They played a good mix of new music, old music, and really old music from a variety of their albums and soon-to-be-released-highly-anticipated album.
Emily Haines + James Shaw – This event, although it was on the smaller of the two stages, was a huge addition to the lineup that featured an acoustic set by two of Metric’s members. A good mix of popular and rare songs were played, and Emily seemed incredibly into her piano playing. The crowd was probably more packed than any other band at the Garibaldi stag.
Kyprios – Kyprios is a Vancouver rapper who won the Peak Performance Project 2010, and has been riding an incredible wave of fame and good fortune for the past year or so. He got on stage and talked up “real” music: the kind that involves hard work and talent, and praised LAS for being full of it. He really did live up to his talk, because his hip hop style and technique were incredible. He had a big band to back him up: guitar, bass, saxophone, trumpet, keyboard, two backup singers, and a DJ. He gave each of his artists a chance to show off their skills in little solo bits, and he seemed so grounded and thankful to play the festival, and the crowd loved him.
Stars – Stars sounded exactly like their record. There was dancing, but the energy from the band seemed a bit more sloppy and blasting loudness than it did enjoyable music. I wasn’t a huge fan.
Shad – Shad is a BC transplant from Ontario, and I really love all of his songs. He invited Ashleigh Ball up on stage, just as Hey Ocean! had invited him on stage during their set. The two makes a great duet, and Shad’s huge energy and love for the crowd and music were inspirational. Although the audience was small, everyone was having a great time and Shad seemed to be having a ton of fun on stage.
John Butler Trio – JBT are an Australian trio that play a variety of music ranging from funk to bluegrass to rock to almost jazz-like. The amazing 12-string guitar talent, up-right bass playing at the same time as Didgeridoo, and massive dance party in the crowd made the set extremely fun and enjoyable. The big screens were mesmerizing as John Butler’s hands moved quickly across the frets and strings to produce the sound of 5 instruments out of one guitar. Many people I talked to said that this was the best show of the weekend and possibly that they had ever even seen.
Girl Talk – Gregg Gillis has been mixing and sampling for almost 10 years now. He is so into his music that he makes DJ-ing off of his laptop into a full-body experience. Instead of dancers or musicians on stage, he had invited about 50 people from the crowd + other artists to rush the stage and have a party up on it. Unfortunately that made a bunch of girls in the crowd feel a bit left out and try to rush the stage as well, which caused a huge mess with security and photographers trying to slip out, but the chaos was all part of the experience. The samples were basically like listening to the top 50 best songs of the past decade all in one set. If you like high energy dance parties, you’ll enjoy GT, especially live.
Nabob Coffee House + Virgin Mobile Cafe – I appreciated the computer stations, picnic tables, and live acoustic performances from Green Couch Sessions. This was the most relaxed corner of the entire festival, where people came to sit and refuel. The complimentary coffee was all part of the efforts from Nabob to rebrand themselves as enjoyable coffee, not instant crap. It did taste good!
Artisan Village – As is becoming popular with festivals, local artisans came to sell their products. Imports, hand-made soaps, jewelry, and custom artwork (including custom painted Tom’s) could be purchased here.
Belmont Barber Shop – Anyone in search of a funky hipster haircut or a sharp hair style could come to the Belmont Barber Shop’s drop-in. Right next to the acoustic Green Couch stage, customers enjoyed the music while getting a chop in the middle of the forested area under a tent. This would certainly be a great hair-related memory for anyone who was willing to sit still for 30 minutes during the festival. Junior and Master stylists Rich Hope and Dustin Fishbook respectively kept their seats constantly full for the entire time I spent in that corner.
Re*Gen / Virgin Unite – This was Virgin’s charity that proceeds from the event were donated to. The beneficiary is Canadian homeless youth, and the festival gave constant reminders and played clips on the big screen to spread awareness and concern for the cause.
EDITOR’S NOTE AND DISCLOSURE: Jessica covered Live At Squamish 2011 with media accreditation for Hummingbird604.com. This review of the festival is neither paid for nor expected by the organizers, but I believe it’s important to share coverage of the festival as it looks like it was a great event. I retain editorial control at all times of what is published on my site.