Friday, June 2nd saw Sugar Nightclub, in partnership with Do250 and Tall Tree Music Festival, once again overtaken by some of the best local live music Vancouver Island has to offer.
Now in it’s fourth year, the Play Tall Tree Contest continues to encourage and support local emerging talent by offering local bands the opportunity to perform at one of the region’s most beloved music festivals. Bands and artists submit their demos to a panel of local music industry professionals who then select 15 acts to go to public vote. The most popular four acts are selected to play as part of a showcase in front of a cheering crowd and a panel of judges.
This year I represented Monday Magazine, sitting alongside Elli Hart of Dirty Mountain, Lara Bannister of Tall Tree Music Festival and Tindy Bassi from The Watershed to create an all female powerhouse panel.
Qualicam’s very own WiL kicked the night off. An established artist in his own right, WiL was a surprising name to see on a lineup that so often focuses on the up and coming. It soon became clear exactly as to why he was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Bringing a diverse early crowd he launched into a professional, beautifully paced set that immediately had the room dancing. With beautifully complimentary vocals from keyboardist Lena Birtwistle, and one of the best drummers around in the form of Keith Gallant, WiL set the bar extremely high for the night.
Dave Zellinsky is a familiar face on Victoria’s music scene. Formerly the lead guitarist of local darlings Towers and Trees, Zellinksky took to the stage second to showcase his new solo project MIND. It was great to see him back on stage and even better to see him move to the role of front man, basking in the new creative freedoms that MIND has afforded him. Seemingly most comfortable when releasing his trademark solos (he’s not called ‘Shred-linksy’ for nothing), Zellinsky gave the audience a good taster of what we can come to expect from MIND in the future; tightly paced pop-rock with rousing choruses you can’t help but shimmy along to.
Third up was Nanaimo band Lawn Social, who had made the drive down from the Harbour City with a large number of fans. Previously The Zone 91.3 Band of the Month for April, they played tightly and with some serious energy. While still finding their feet in regard to stage presence and crowd engagement, their own brand of atmospheric rock was electrifyingly unique. This is a band I’m going to enjoy watching grow over the next couple of years.
Closing the night out were local faves High Noon to Midnight. Another The Zone 91.3 Band Of The Month alumni, there is a serious buzz around these Victoria rockers and they did not disappoint. You could argue that, as last band of the night, they benefitted from a well lubricated crowd but really, they just delivered a hell of a show. Ripping up the Sugar stage with a set full of dirty, sexy rock ‘n’ roll and dripping with sax, High Noon to Midnight were the stand out.
Tall Tree Music Festival runs June 23-26 in Port Renfrew, BC.