Canadian artist Jessie Reyez is among the headliners for the 2018 version of Rifflandia. Courtesy Atomique Productions

Canadian artist Jessie Reyez is among the headliners for the 2018 version of Rifflandia. Courtesy Atomique Productions

RIFFLANDIA: Local artists thrive under festival model

Bands like Current Swell, one of the 2018 headliners, made their mark at RAP

Supporting local musicians, some of whom find their way further up the music ladder in the aftermath, is a part of what Rifflandia is all about.

The music festival, which celebrates its 11th edition in September, has given various Victoria-area bands their first big break including Current Swell, who were on the roster for the first Rifflandia back in 2008 and are among the headliners this time.

“They’re a group we, as a company, have supported since Day 1,” says Nick Blasko, co-founder of festival promoter Atomique Productions. “This time they’re bringing some friends and taking a different approach to the show.”

The Swell, as Blasko refers to the group, are the kind of grassroots act that has fit in well over the years with the bigger names that have taken the stage at Royal Athletic Park and other festival venues.

“For us, it’s always the idea that we can take one of those slots on the main stage; that shows the support for the local bands in the community,” he says. “It’s always nice to be able to do that.”

This year some of those bigger names include Jessie Reyez, the Juno Award winner whose career trajectory in North America in the past year has been incredible; Grammy-nominated Daniel Caesar, another young Canadian who is making a splash on both sides of the border, Lights, Adventure Club and Bishop Briggs.

In all, 154 bands are taking part in the festival. Sound like a crazy high number? It’s not the most ever, Blasko says.

“I think we broke 200 in the Breakout West year,” he says of 2015, when the city hosted the annual blending of the Western Canadian Music Awards, four-day conference and three-day music festival.

In terms of who’s attending Rifflandia, the demographic is becoming broader every year. Where the earlier festivals attracted a mainly younger crowd, the regulars are getting older and even starting to bring their children along, which has prompted organizers to do more things to entertain families at RAP. Kids 12-under get in free when registered using the festival’s official online form.

READ: Rifflandia music festival lineup announced for 2018

“I’d say 25-30 per cent are core people that support Rifflandia, and maybe 25-35 per cent is made up of audiences of headliners who come to hear bands specifically,” Blasko says. “Then the remaining chunk are those people who don’t want to miss out on the excitement.”

Bringing upwards of 10,000 people into town makes for some serious economic impacts as well. “I talk to cab drivers sometimes and they say ‘it’s like New Year’s Eve three nights in a row,’” he adds.

Having three new venues for the festival – adding Canoe, the Rubber Boot Club and Vinyl Envy brings the total to 12 sites – is another way the festival is expanding its reach, both for artists and audiences.

“It makes for a more robust festival and gives us more options,” Blasko says, noting that venues like Canoe have been providing a place for local bands to play for some time now.

While the smaller sites offer great options for people who may not like the outdoor festival atmosphere, for those looking for that kind of thing in an urban location, RAP has it all, with two stages and plenty of food and beverage choices.

To check out the full schedule or buy tickets, visit rifflandia.com.

editor@mondaymag.com

Live musicRifflandia

 

Lights brings her unique sound to the Rifflandia music festival in Victoria in September. Photo courtesy Atomique Productions.

Lights brings her unique sound to the Rifflandia music festival in Victoria in September. Photo courtesy Atomique Productions.

Just Posted

It takes much more than having talent as a singer or musician to pull off a live performance people will remember, says Sooke resident Jason Parsons. (Pixabay.com)
Vancouver Islander writes the book on live performances

Jason Parsons’ new book unlocks the keys to establishing a presence on stage

Mural on the south side of Wildfire Bakery on Quadra Street, a project initiated in 1995 by local artist Peter Allen and others. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Mural styles in Victoria run the gamut

Create your own mural walking tour around the city

Michael Demers, performing here as a member of The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo by Benji Duke)
Victoria music community mourning Michael Demers

Veteran singer-songwriter, co-founder of The Lonely dies at 63 due to leukemia

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping to stage outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Members of A Cappella Plus rehearse for a ’60s-themed concert in 2019. This year the group is celebrating its 40th anniversary. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo’s A Cappella Plus chorus marks 40 years with short documentary

Film covers group’s history, features performance and behind-the-scenes video

Most Read