Pemberton Festival 2008 Day 1Photos by Alex Ramon
The idea of a three day music festival is just amazing for any concert-goer, but also for the artists as well. So when Shane Bourbonnais, Festival Executive Producer, wanted to bring a European-like festival to Canada, lots of artists jumped on board. Coldplay was the first to sign on, and from there on in, other big name acts wanted to be a part of it as well, such as Nine Inch Nails and Tom Petty. It even got to the point where Shane had to be turning down some acts because, well, they just didn’t have enough room on the bill. Now that they have all the acts, they had to find a place to house all of these talented individuals. They searched from the coast to coast, and luckily for us on the west, they decided to settle in a little small town by the name of Pemberton, BC.
For those of you who don’t know where Pemberton is (I had no clue until I Google mapped it), it’s just a 25 minute drive from Whistler and has a population of just over 2000. There’s only one lane of traffic from the two towns, so you can only imagine the chaos that ensued when 40,000 people flocked to the town. Camping started on Thursday July 24, and a sea of cars stormed in. The organizers just weren’t prepared for that big of a wave, with only 10 shuttle busses running from the parking lot to the camp grounds. There were huge delays and people were stranded on the road waiting to get in. But with all of the overpriced food and alcohol, road delays, dusty air (believe me, every time I opened my mouth, it became a dust collector), and disorganized camp grounds put aside, the festival was an overall success and everyone left with a sense of gratitude for being able to participate in the first inaugural Pemberton Festival.
Metric, a wonderful Canadian band based in Toronto, ON, was the first band to kick off the festival on the Mount Currie Stage. I’ve always wanted to watch one of their sets, but I always seemed to miss them when they strolled into town and play. But what better way to catch them then on a stage with a backdrop of the mountains. Emily Haines, vocalist and synthesizer, was by far the most energetic and loveable creature that graced that stage. She danced her heart out to every song, and you would think that she would be out of breath for singing, but she was pitch perfect for each song. That’s not to take away from guitarist James Shaw, bassist Josh Winstead, and drummer Joules Scott-Key, because they rocked out just as hard and with enough passion to fill the entire field. The highlight for me was when they played “Monster Hospital.” Everyone in the audience was singing and dancing, but it was unfortunate that not all 40,000 ticket holders got to catch this great performance because if they weren’t fans before, they would’ve been afterwards. It was, nonetheless, a great way to start the festival and the band was very gracious to be part of such a great event.
These Grammy award winning Aussies came on stage with enough energy to power the entire crowd, the workers, the media, and even those drunken fools in the beer garden. It wasn’t like they had any props or even a fancy back drop. They are, in a sense, just a simple rock and roll, jean and t-shirt wearing kind of band. They have had great commercial success, with songs featured in iPod commercials and movies, such as Jackass Number Two and Shrek The Third. But for me, I remember them through Guitar Hero II, so as soon as they started playing “Woman” my mind raced through orange, blue, red, green, green, yellow. These guys are true rock stars and have been compared to such bands as Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin. So to be put with bands of this calibre, I was expecting a great show from these guys and I sure wasn’t disappointed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone rock out so hard on a keyboard as much as Chris Ross did. All in all, Wolfmother was everything I expected and more. If their live show is any indication, then I can’t wait for their new album to drop, whenever that comes out, will be a fan pleaser for sure.
Up next on the Mount Currie Stage was Serj Tankian. This is a nice little not so side project from the front-man for System of a Down (SOAD). This Lebanese-born Armenian-American political activist/poet/songwriter/multi-talented crazy man was one of the most entertaining acts of the night. His voice is so unique, that if you were in the camp ground and was wondering who was playing on stage, it would’ve been a no brainer. Even when he wasn’t singing he was jumping around, flirting with the audience, and making all these crazy hand gestures that just flowed perfectly to every beat of the song. A cymbal crash would be followed by a fist punch, while a heavy bass beat would be followed by a synchronized kick. I even told Alex, my photographer, that if I were to put together a super group, Serj would no doubt be the singer. His show wouldn’t be complete without some political jab at the current American political office, so when he started his song “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” there were numerous cheers throughout the crowd. I’ve never really been a System fan, but if Serj’s solo set was this entertaining, then I have no doubt that his SOAD band would be utterly amazing to watch.
Interpol has been one of the premier Indie bands to come out of New York, and they are the epitome of taking matters in their own hands and shaping their own careers. Interpol was one of the bands people in the crowd were really anticipating. I asked a great deal of people throughout the day who they were most excited to see, and Interpol was on the top of many people’s list. They have had such great success, and it really gives light to all the indie bands out there that they don’t have to sign with a huge record label in order to get recognition. Even though Interpol isn’t signed to Matador anymore, they still have that indie rock feel to them which is why I think they appeal to so many people. Yes they have a lot of their songs featured on various TV shows, but that’s not a bad thing. Those TV shows are actually good, and so are the songs, but enough about their commercial success and on to their show. Their set lived up to everyone’s expectations and the audience was really receptive. Paul Banks was perfect on vocals and Sam Fogarino was astonishing to watch on drums. Carlos Dengler, the bassist and keyboardist, looked a little odd wearing a collared shirt buttoned all the way to the top, with some shades on. But with fashion put aside, Interpol was a joy to watch and I can’t wait to play their song “Roland” on the upcoming Guitar Hero World Tour.
NIN was the headliner to close off Day 1, and holy crap did they close off in style. We had to sign a waiver form especially made by NIN before we could take any pictures of Trent and the rest of the boys, but man was it worth it. Every song was picture perfect, with various rock star poses and the signature Trent Reznor “singing with mic stand” pose. The crowd was fanatical and it was just a sea of mosh pits. At times, it seemed like the throng of people just wanted to get closer to Trent. Not only did the people in the audience have to watch the antics of NIN on stage, but also the wild fans who crowd surfed over their heads. For me, NIN was just a ball of energy that exploded on stage for one and a half hours, and left a big mess of wounded, tired, and sweaty fans behind. There really isn’t much more to say about their show. It essentially does leave you speechless, and I know this isn’t really good reporting on my behalf, but you just had to be there to know what I’m talking about.
Day 1 had a really great line-up, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it over to the Lillooet Stage to catch some smaller up and coming acts. But stay tuned for my recap of Day 2 and some more wonderful pictures by Alex Ramon.