Rifflandia has a pretty special place in this city’s collective consciousness. This homegrown favourite has morphed from an intimate string of shows with a ticket buying audience of 1500, to a roaring, dazzling, musical behemoth, descending upon Victoria to ensure its inhabitants have one last kick of that raucous, summer can. This is year 10 (YEAR 10!) and you better believe there’s a plethora of music, mischief and ‘Riff moments’ ahead.
Here’s my list of must-sees for Rifflandia 2017:
Thursday 11:30 pm, Capital Ballroom
This Seattle duo have had a doozy of a year; packing venues at Upstream Festival, treading the main stage at Sasquatch and playing at NYC’s pride parade being a few highlights. With Fall bringing a new album (due in October 13 on Portland’s Tender Loving Empire Records) and a European tour, there’s no sign of slowing them down. SISTERS are a self described ‘crescendo-pop powerhouse’ and they deliver on that, creating a layered, sweeping sound peppered with 80’s sounding synths, rousing choruses and the odd sax solo. Incredibly talented multi instrumentalists to boot, SISTERS are well known for live shows that will blow your mind with seamless musical wizardry. A perfect way to kick off Rifflandia.
Friday 5:00 PM, Rifftop Tent
You have an emergency dental appointment. The kid threw up on the dog. You lost a shoe and need to er…find a new one. I don’t care what ‘untruths’ you need to tell to get out of work early on Friday; just tell them. Toronto’s very own Charlotte Day Wilson is coming in cool with a 45 minute set of smooth, stripped back beats and soulful, syrup laden vocals. With nods from the Polaris Music Prize and accolades from the hipster press tucked in her metaphorical back pocket, Day Wilson more than delivers as one of Canada’s most exciting new artists. Watch her take to the stage with her collection of finely crafted, tightly tuned laments to lost chances and broken hearts, and prepare to melt.
Saturday 3:50 PM, Riff Tent & Saturday 12:30 AM, Capital Ballroom
There’s a reason that Too Many Zooz is being hailed as one of the bands to catch at Riff 10. From Union Square to collaborating with Beyonce, it’s been a whirlwind few years for these guys. Borne from Manhattan School of Music, honed on the streets of the NYC subway and made viral by our old friend the internet, this charismatic trio harness a dynamic energy to deftly weave a tapestry of sounds into a whole new genre. Dubbed ‘Brass House’, their sound takes the EDM/hip hop backbone and transforms it into a Latin and jazz infused cacophony of joy. Whether you’re a late night raver or an afternoon groover, don’t miss the chance to dance your socks off to this band.
Saturday 4:15 PM, Main Stage
If you’ve ventured out to a late night show anywhere on Vancouver Island in the last 18 months, then chances are you’ve heard of Bands of Rascals. And if you haven’t, well climb out from under your rock and consider this your education.
Band of Rascals are no Riff virgins. Oh believe me, they know how to put the moves on. 2016 saw the band whip the Riff tent into a sweaty, raucous helluva time, rightfully being a highlight of Saturday’s Park programming. This year they’ll take to the Main Stage, and if you caught them at 2016’s Rock the Shores, or Cowichan’s inaugural Laketown Rock, you know that this is a stage they can more than handle. Bringing vintage southern bluesy sensibilities bang up to date with electrifying guitar riffs, thundering drums and heartfelt lyrics, these rock ‘n’ roll brothers-in-arms represent a new generation of North American rock bands.
Sunday 12:30 PM, The Atrium
The Musicounts TD Lounge at the Atrium never fails to delight. Where else can you catch both international and local musicians in an equally intimate, yet spectacular space? This year promises to be no different with a recently announced set by headliner Moby. Catching this global superstar on such a personal level is sure to be an enchanting, humbling experience, and likely the talk of the weekend.
Tickets are $20 and can be bought at eventbrite.ca or Lyle’s Place, with all proceeds going to Muscicounts, a national music education charity
Sunday 6:25 PM, Rifftop Tent
King of the Kutz, Master of Mashups, Lord of the freakin’ dance and all round Riff veteran; Z-Trip is back once again to remind us how to lose ourselves in the music. With sets that cover everything from Vivaldi to the Beatles, from the Beastie Boys to Rush; Z-Trip probably has at least a handful of your favourites. Join him Sunday evening and dance those blues away.
Jon + Sierra (Occie Elliot), The Atrium Saturday 11:00 AM – New passion project from Jon Middleton and Sierra Lundy. The aural equivalent of indigo painted skies and the first summer stars.
Art d’Ecco, Anian Yard Friday 9:30 PM – Glam rock gets a 21st century update. Artistic, androgynous and just a little bit sexy.
RALPH, Rifftop Tent, Sunday 3:00 PM – Electro, synth laden disco and honey dew vocals.
Keep an ear out for secret shows being hosted at Royal Athletic Park by Do250. Featuring some of Rifflandia’s favourite acts, these intimate showcases are going to be a highlight. Follow them on social media and sign up for their newsletter to get the low down!