Welcome to festival season my fellow music consumers. Congratulations, we made it through another gruelling winter that somehow seemed endless. However, summer always this charming way of coming back around. I now present to you, in my oh so humble opinion, my suggestions of where to find music this summer.
Levitation Vancouver-June 16-19
Levitation Vancouver is the love child of Austin Psych Fest (aka Levitation) and Timbre concerts. This is Levitation Vancouver’s sophomore year, which is quite impressive considering the lineup, organization and anticipation involved. Like Austin Psych Fest, Levitation offers the cream of the crop of shoe gaze, trip hop, experimental, metal and psychedelic music. During the day, the festival takes places in stunning Stanley Park placed conveniently in the centre of the city and encapsulates sheer natural beauty with ever-changing landscape and rich acoustics. At night an array of excellent downtown and china town venues open their doors to the festival providing a generous amount of options and variety. The lineup this year is incredibly diverse and wonderful. This year’s bill includes the electronic magician Flying Lotus, bass machine Thundercat, the Digable Planets continuation Shabazz Palaces. The brain bending Suuns, art rock phenomena Of Montreal, The late Lou Reed’s favourite band Holy Fuck, and the hypnotizing The Growlers. Not to mention the amazing Tycho, the Oh See’s and of my all time favourites’ Dead Meadow. Along with a spree of local talent including Did You Die, Dead Ghosts and returning to their home turf White Lung. Levitation Vancouver is one of the most significant, refreshing and innovative events we often complain that Vancouver lacks.
Winnipeg Folk Fest-July 7-10
I am potentially biased as Winnipeg is my hometown and this is the first music festival I ever attended. However, Winnipeg Folk Festival is a truly phenomenal place that always manages to be it’s own kind of special. The festival takes place after Winnipeg melts away and becomes a balmy, sticky, glowing masterpiece. It is held an hour outside of Winnipeg at Bird’s Hill Provincial park. You may camp all weekend-party all night and lie in the sun all day while intermediately witnessing widely diverse and mesmerizing music. You can buy one day passes and return to the festival well showered and slept or you can beat the heat and just watch the headliners at the main stage during the magic of the starry nights- whatever works for you.
This particular year is notably “folkier” than the previous which I believe was intentional and important. The lineup this year involves the heartbreaking Ryan Adams, the budding Andy Shauf and the hypnotic Possessed by Paul James. Additionally, the gigantic and impressive Lemon Bucket Orchestra, the one and only Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers, The powerful Ryley Walker. Along the amazing talent Winnipeg is bursting with like the magnetic and commanding trio Red Moon Road and the deliciously home brewed Crooked Brothers. Additionally, some of the best food, drink and people in the Country are offered generously at this prairie paradise.
ArtsWells-Wells,BC-July 29-Aug 1
There truly is no other place like ArtWells, which seems to be the first thing most people say about this spectacular four day art explosion in Wells, BC. Wells is a small, beautiful and historic town located in the Cariboo region of Northern BC. That stated it is not particularly easy to get to and the fact that it is packed with thousands of people is a sign the festival is doing all the right things. The truth is, they are; this tiny town is completely taken over by the festival, which makes for various venues for the even more various artists including churches, a heritage theatre, a casino, pub, legion, community hall and pockets of outdoor spaces that are surrounded by mountains and river. Everywhere you look offers a different kind of extraordinary beauty with a different kind of creative force. Musicians, visual artists, theatre and spoken word are all part of this omni-presently satisfying paroxysm of creative freedom.The lineup will be announced shortly and is sure to convince you to make the trip
Pickathon-Happy Valley,Oregon- Aug 5-7
Pickathon is a profoundly magical place, not only is it surreally beautiful it also manages to pull off impossibly well-crafted lineups. Pickathon is located about 40 minutes outside of Portland in the wholesome Happy Valley which is as lovely as it sounds, it’s on a ranch that otherwise serves as a farm with a waldorf school. It is a beautiful, woodsy paradise that celebrates the perfect combination of scorching sunlight and dusty shade. Sounds arrange variably throughout each stage, which consist of: two barns with walls decorated from relics of previous year, the womb like woods stage made from an avalanche of branches, a fort made out of pallets and a main stage made out of several parachutes that reel you in. The Bars are actual tree houses, which offer Portland’s finest swill.
There is virtually zero waste, recycling and compost bins are everywhere and the campsite is like a support group. There are creative kids practicing their craft in every corner, no one gets out of hand yet everyone is having the time of their lives. This year Wilco’s front man and sonic genius Jeff Tweedy is playing solo which is a rare and spectacular experience in that he focuses more on the Americana lullabies and old timey tunes that are not as prevalent in his work with Wilco. The raw and innovative Wolf Parade, the shoe gaze resurrection Beach House and Vancouver beloved Black Mountain will also be featured. Everyone’s favourite dirty little brother Mac DeMarco, the renowned Yo La Tengo and lord of low-fi Ty Segall will also be playing this year. Pickathon is for genuine music lovers who come there to love genuine music.
Bumbershoot- Seattle, Washington -Sep 2-4
Bumbershoot is located downtown Seattle, Washington and packed with music, comedy and workshops. The festival is unapologetically mainstream and well funded, this is not the place you find yourself in the forest but it’s the place where you witness generous contemporary hip hop and drink amazing lattes. The lineup this year includes some of hip hop’s finest and freshest-Tyler the Creator, Anderson. Paak and G Easy. The mesmerizing Tame Impala, violin virtuoso Andrew Bird and our favourite honey bear Father John Misty will also be taking the stage. In addition to the musical performances; comedy shows, various workshops, and invigorating presentations take place to keep all your senses buzzing. The commitment required towards the festival is minimal as you can come and go as you please. If you are visiting from out of Seattle this is the best way to see the city and finalize your summer.
No matter where you find yourself remember that live music isn’t dead and neither is the art of the festival. Be excellent to each other, stop judging people for wearing wild outfits (unless it’s a headdress then judge away) drink lots of water and clean up after yourself.