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Rifflandia Review: Friday at Royal Athletic Park

What better way to say goodbye to summer than watching Love growl at the moonlight on Friday the 13th in September?
Courtney Love threw roses into the crowd from the main stage at Royal Athletic Park on Day 2 of Rifflandia

Armed with only a pen, some paper, a 10 year old digital camera and my trusty social media liaison Nick Lyons, I head out to Rifflandia Festival 2013 for opening night at Royal Athletic Park. Why a Social Media liaison, you ask? Quite simply, I'm a very important man and just don't have time to fiddle around with social media constantly. Plus, the use of a liaison continuously builds my mystique and creates a certain scarcity for my character, which is now in high demand across the globe. There is also the outside possibility that my lack of connection to the internet will provide readers with a better description of this carnival of the senses called Rifflandia.

I enter under a seemingly handcrafted sign sporting the festival's unique aesthetic which evokes an energetic, creative, family-friendly atmosphere where dancing, conversation, eating and drinking are all actively encouraged. As I walk around, it is hard to miss the many home-grown innovative businesses and organizations displaying quality goods and services on offer year round in this vibrant community. Artlandia's mini golf and paint wall are tempting propositions, as is Kidlandia, which features some pretty exciting activities for everyone, but I am distracted by the OuterSpace Mobile Art Gallery featuring the work of James Kirkpatrick. Wow! I have a mind to have my social media liaison post a status update, but it is too soon.

Wait, what the hell? A cinema tent? Jesus.

I wander over to the east end of the park where a fantastic array of food trucks await including Pizzeria Prima Strada, Taco Justice and Dead Beetz. I'll take the smell of sizzling steaks, pulled pork and fresh burritos over re-heated hot dogs any day. I eat delicious kaffir lime coconut vegetable curry in a box at a picinic table in the sun while Easy Star All Stars play dub covs and Z-Trip gets everyone in a dancing mood in the Rifftop Tent.

Oh, right. This is a music festival. The main stage has thousands bouncing to the sounds of Nova Scotia's Luke Boyd, otherwise known as Classified. High energy hand waving beats across a crowd of happy revellers. The sun sets behind the stage turning full summery green trees into silhouettes against a darkening sky as a half moon rises to the south. Classified pulls Sabrina from Nanaimo up on stage for a duet and goes straight into Oh Canada from his 2009 album Self Explanatory, a proud moment for us all.

Back at the Rifftop Tent, Current Swell takes the stage to an adoring crowd. You can tell people love this west coast driving blues reggae rock because everyone's singing the lyrics, clapping to the beat and generally having a laid back good time. The trombone out of nowhere blasting fans with a well-timed solo is definitely a highlight. The more horns the better, I say.

For the love of God, Courtney Love! It's amazing she's still playing live after everything she's been through and already accomplished. I've always appreciated the raw performances, hard truths and screaming good rock vocals. Charisma in spades as she plays Hole, solo work and covers Fleetwood Mac's Gold Dust woman. A rose from Love is the only kind that makes sense nowadays, and she threw many into the crowd. What better way to say goodbye to summer than watching Love growl at the moonlight on Friday the 13th in September?

The kids, so many kids watching these shows despite some pretty adult content. Perhaps it works like French kids and wine: exposing them to a little early on takes the edge off and removes any need to rebel later on. Anyways, kids are like horns. You can never have too many of them at a festival as far as I'm concerned.

Where's my social media liaison? So much going on this weekend I want to let everyone know. Two more full days here and Saturday's schedule is looking good at R.A.P.: Hey Marseilles beginning at noon, followed by Corb Lund, Hot Hot Heat, Wintersleep, USS and Death from Above 1979. They don't make it easy to choose with the Rifftop Tent hosting Limblifter beginning at 12:30 followed by St. Lucia, Chali 2na, Wavves and Rob Garza.

Tickets are available at, Rifflandia HQ, Royal Mc Pherson Box Office, Ditch Records and Lyle's Place in Victoria.


Timothy Trebilcock



Photos by Rob Porter