Pemberton Festival 2008 Day 2Photos by Alex Ramon
I have one, and only one, bad thing to say about Pemberton. There is just so much to do and see that there is absolutely no way of accomplishing it all. It’s sad, I know, having all these great acts and having to pick and choose. It’s like trying to decide which son you like more, the older smarter one or the younger cooler one. That’s pretty much what I had to do on Day 2, but what I was able to catch was absolutely amazing. It was such a drag, having to choose which great band I wanted to see. It’s a hard life.
So on Day 1, I wasn’t able to get over to the Lillooet Stage where all the “next big things” were playing, but I was totally excited for Day 2 and I wouldn’t have missed Low vs Diamond for all the diamonds in the world (alright that was really bad… I admit it… but I’m not going to edit it because it was so bad it was good). They’re one of the bands I’ll be profiling from Pemberton, so I won’t go into too much detail about what they’re favourite colour is, that’ll be later. As for their set, they were the first to play and kick off Day 2. From what I’ve heard from people in the crowd, the Lillooet Stage was pretty close to empty on Day 1, so when I started to head over on Day 2, I was expecting a smaller crowd. Boy was I wrong! The field started to fill up even before the band came on stage. I guess being named one of iTunes “Bands to watch in 2008” didn’t hurt either. There may have been some technical sound problems at the beginning of their set, but the boys in LVD sure pulled it off. Lucas Field, vocalist and guitarist, played with the crowd and sang his lungs out. At one point, Lucas even admitted to playing for a crowd of 50 people in small clubs prior to this Pemberton gig. All I have to say is welcome to Canada. Their arena type indie-rock, with slow build ups leading to epic proportions, made for a highly enjoyable set. I think they’re the North American answer to the European Coldplay, but who knows, maybe one day they’ll be bigger than that.
Now for a little more Canadian flavour and you can’t get much more Canadian than good ol’ Sammy Roberts. He is everything you love about Canada. He is the mountain, he is the river, and he is the nature. Well with that beard he sure does look like he came out of the forest. He’s a lot shorter than I thought. I’m not a big guy (I’m Asian… so how could I be?), but he was shorter than me. He looked like all those hipster kids you see walking along Main Street, with skin tight jeans and worn out Converse shoes. But with his rugged appearance put aside, Sam Roberts sure does know how to rock and, dare I say it, roll. I’ve seen him play before at Thunderbird Stadium out at UBC at the now defunct Arts County Fair, and he played to a bunch of belligerent and rowdy university kids. I guess Pemberton was no different, but this time he played to a HUGE bunch of belligerent and rowdy university kids. I think the difference between the two shows was that the kids at Pemberton truly enjoyed the music, rather than enjoying the last day of classes. Everyone was dancing wherever there was an open space, and everyone sang along to his easy going style of rock. It was a great set and everyone left happy.
The only one man band on the Pemberton gig was none other than Canada’s own Buck 65. Now ask yourself this, how can one man be as entertaining as a full band? If it was anyone else, I would probably have to agree with you, but definitely not Buck. If you’ve heard any of his songs, his lyrical ideas are uncanny and just plain weird. And with every lyric, he seemed to have some choreographed move to accompany it. He was probably the most entertaining act I saw all weekend, besides all the headliners of course. At one point during his set, a fan threw their Blackberry up on stage with a song request. Buck 65 took it in stride and played along. He would go from scratching on his turntables (which was better than all the DJ’s in the Bacardi Tent), to spitting rhymes on his mic, to dancing around stage. He was even kind enough to censor his lyrics for the families in the audience, especially during “The Centaur.” Instead of rapping about his big c*ck, he would let the crowd yell it out. And speaking of the audience, what a rambunctious crowd they were. At one point during the set, Buck challenged his crowd in the Lillooet Stage to be louder than those waiting for the Hip who was across the field. Let’s just say it worked.
When I first heard that The Flaming Lips were playing at Pemberton, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ve heard crazy stories about the antics they get up to when they play on stage. The florescent coloured instruments along side a suspended gong were the first indication that it was going to be a wild set. As soon as the show started, Wayne Coyne came rolling on stage. And I don’t mean rolling in a figurative sense. He was actually in a big inflatable hamster ball and he rolled onto the stage, and right off into the audience. If a show starts off with a man in a bubble, you know it’s going to be a good night. There was just so much going on, ranging from random crowd groupies dressed up as Teletubbies on stage (I think I might be mistaken, but I think Chris Walla from Death Cab was on stage as a roadie…) to the confetti and balloon balls being thrown throughout the crowd. When Q Magazine named them one of the “50 Bands to See Before You Die,” they were bang on and now I can cross that off the list (still on that list is RATM… oh please come in or around Vancouver!). Coyne played with such power and charisma it was hard not to like him. He rocked out on his double neck guitar, while Michael Ivins kicked some major ass on bass while sporting a skeleton costume. The entire set was a success and I think everyone left a Lips fan, if they weren’t already.
Stay tuned for a Day 3 recap and more pictures from the one and only Alex Ramon.