It was the beginning of Rifflandia and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Catching the last 9 p.m. ferry from Vancouver, I was left with no choice but to pre-drink during the voyage like a lone alcoholic. While the serene scenery via boat was a trip I usually enjoy, my body was ready to bask in the sweat of others as I moshed against them. I was ready for the madness to ensue.
Stumbling off the ferry, I booked it to Market Square where the funkadelic Funk Hunters were playing. Swimming through throngs of barely legals, I managed to make it inside the venue with minimal scarring. Inside the venue was a visual projection cube hanging over the crowd, with lights settling down on various showgoers; a magical visual that made the Market Square one of the festival’s best venues—especially for the likes of Funk Hunters. Armed with four turntables, their mash ups and remixes of soul and funk had the tweens getting their boogie on.
Leaving the underages behind, I carried onward to my most anticipated show of the night: Mykki Blanco. Opening for Mykki was a topless individual, covered in painted white lines and holding orb-like lights in their mouth and hands, thrashing across the stage in a weird trance-like dance.
After the performance art, Mykki came onstage, rocking a pink flouncy underwear frock, garters, and garters belts to accompany the festive attire. After an incredible performance, Mykki addressed the tender-hearted Victoria crowd: “This crowd looks nice. Maybe a little too nice.” Mykki then jumped into the crowd and tried to turn up the rowdiness meter, but despite his attempts, I seemed to be the only one moshing while everyone else just stood there awkwardly.
Day Two didn’t start until 4 p.m. for me, when the Mounties took to the outdoor stage and got the crowd up on their feet. But the highlight of my Friday experience had to be Courtney Love. Not only was I curious to see her perform, but Love was one of the most talked about shows of Rifflandia. I headed to the photography pit and watched as she stomped onstage with both a cigarette and drink in-hand, blowing ominous smoke at the crowd before sashaying on her guitar.
In her raspy voice, Love yelled to the crowd: “Aren’t we good?” to which the crowd responded with a weak cheer, leaving Love unimpressed. “Oh, you’re underestimating my ego. Are we good?” While not the quality of music I expected for Courtney Love, her stage presence helped to compensate.
I ended the night with a show at Philips Brewery to witness the epicness of Action Bronson. Telling the crowd to “Shake your ass, shake your pussy, shake your little dicks,” Action put on an incredible show and ended the night with the classic track “Strictly 4 my Jeeps.”
It was Day Three and I was ready to get steamy. After watching Hot Hot Heat and Wintersleep play back-to-back, I grabbed another drink and made my way to the DJ stage to see Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation. While not as good as Thievery Corporation itself, his was a show to remember. A little funkier than Thievery normally, Garza hit the ‘90s techno funk spot on.
And then it was time. Death from Above 1979 took to the stage, asking the crowd “Do you guys remember laughter? Let’s get weird.” One of the biggest and most-anticipated shows at Rifflandia, DFA played favourites like “Black History Month,” “Romantic Rights,” and “Turn It Out.” The crowd was the messiest and rowdiest of the whole festival, with full-on mosh pits and a dude with a horse head crowd surfing.
After some mosh pit bruises and injuries, I limped over to Phillips Brewery to witness Dam Funk, with a crowd that was ready to get their boogie on. Dam Funk gave ‘em exactly what they wanted, whipping out his keytar to play the funkiest beats of the festival.
The final day of Rifflandia was confided to the main stages and ended earlier than previous nights—a welcome drawback, as my three-day-old hangover was reaching new heights. Beats Antique were first up, known for their riveting live performances. Next were Matt & Kim, who played all my favourites — including “Cameras” — as confetti flew through the air. Always at their rowdiest, Kim told the crowd “Imma get nasty tonight. Imma talk about butts, my ass, your ass, and maybe even anal,” and then proceeded to twerk up on a security guard.
Closing out Rifflandia ‘13 were Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, a band I’ve seen several times, and while I never cry, I’ve cried at exactly three of their shows. Frontman Alex Ebert told the crowd: “Everyone’s life is poetry, it’s cinema. The love, the hate, the goals, everything. I just figured this out today. Aren’t you happy for me?”
Playing classics like “Janglin’” and “40 Day Dream,” they got the crowd swaying their hips and groovin’ into the night. At the end of their set, Alex Ebert told the crowd “One of these days, I’m going to figure out this whole architecture thing. You guys are behind a fence. Who came up with that? I don’t want to get into this right now, but it’s a systemic problem. If you want to change, if you change it, don’t wait for anyone else.”
Hear that, Rifflandia? Next year we’re storming the stages!