Have you ever gone to a concert and had a great time, but just wished that there were thirteen more bands performing that night? If that sounds relatable, then the Kingfisher Bluez Christmas Party would have been perfect for you! The twelfth iteration of this Vancouver staple provided memorable performances from a wide array of BC artists (along with some special out-of-province guests) that justified its dizzying six-hour runtime and mainlined the Christmas spirit into our veins. This year’s gathering continued the record label’s long tradition of donating 100% of the profits to 1-800-Suicide and Crisis Centre BC, which alone made it an event I’d recommend to anyone.
The demanding task of opening a 14-act Christmas concert fell on the shoulders of the young Vancouver band Dacey, whose groovy collection of tracks — including their breakout single “Sidewalks” — established the night’s fun and carefree tone. They were followed by the upbeat tunes of Kristin Witko, folksy singalongs of David Ivan Neil, and the ethereal Luvgoon. By this point, the crowd had slowly grown in size and the Rickshaw Theatre was looking packed. You could really sense the Christmas spirit crackling in the air as you waited 15 minutes for a glass of water — it was truly magical.
kylie v took the stage soon after. Their infectious excitement — and unbelievably vocal fans — stood out as one of the highlights of the night. The next two acts were the bubbly Bridal Party and Edmonton-based Marlaena Moore, whose performance of “24 Hour Drugstore” carried a raw energy that surprised me and set it apart from its more muted studio version.
At some point in the night, the audience was graced by the presence of the flat earther punk band Flat Earth, who played a few songs from their EP Flat Earth. Attempting to remember their set is like trying to break out of a fugue state while experiencing a fever dream, but I have vague memories of the entire venue chanting “the earth is flat”. Though they weren’t even billed to play, I will bravely say that their performance was the most fun of the night.
Next to take the stage was local act Non La and Kingfisher Bluez’ very own Tim the Mute, who gave us some much-needed melancholy after the whole Flat Earth fiasco. At this point, we had been entertained for over four hours straight and many of us were wondering if we’d ever see our families again, but the anticipation for the last few bands of the night was greater than the fatigue that was plaguing our bodies, so we persevered.
Surrey-based Sleepy Gonzales delivered a dreamy set that served as a fitting prelude to Sam Tudor, whose sombre and beautiful music comfortably lulled the audience into forgetting that the line for water had grown twofold. My frustration regarding this was soon forgotten though, as Vancouver-turned-Montreal band Winona Forever started playing the cleanest set of the night. It was a shame they were only limited to a few songs (I assume the long walk from Montreal is to blame) but their strong chemistry and mellow, yet dynamic, sound stood out as one of the best parts of the show.
The final act of the night — beloved Vancouver stars Peach Pit — appeared decked out in full Santa Claus outfits and began playing some of their most iconic songs, including “Tommy’s Party,” “Hot Knifer,” and “Alrighty Aphrodite.” Any concerns about the length of the line for water were soon washed away as the crowd began singing along with frontman Neil Smith and having an all-around good time. The group’s nostalgia-infused tone was mesmerizing to witness, and their encore performance of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” was the perfect way to cap off the Christmas party. Not bad for a $25 ticket.