by Mark Anthony Brennan

I’ve always been a big fan of spaghetti westerns, so I couldn’t resist invoking Sergio Leone’s classic when I asked the performers at Rifflandia what their opinion was of the Victoria music festival:

(By the way:  lineup = roster of performers (good);   line-up = queuing (bad or ugly)

Oliver Mann (JPNSGRLS)

copyright Veronica Bonderud 2014

The good:

The competitive nature of a festival really brings everyone’s A-game to the stage. You would think it is ruthless when everyone is competing for the same audience and everyone wants to be the “buzz” band but actually it is quite the opposite. It is kind of like being rivals with your best friend. Instead of trying to tear the other one down you better each other and support one another throughout the process.  Many of our friends were playing Rifflandia (Kate Kurdyak, Jasper Sloan Yip, Little India and Smash Boom Pow) so it was great to see them play, share their music with our fans and even take a page from their book if they did something really cool. I like to think we are a better band after the whole experience. 

The bad:

Rifflandia was amazing. I can’t really say anything bad about it. It did make me wonder why there wasn’t a comparable festival in our hometown of Vancouver though…. It just feels like a missed opportunity. 

The ugly:

During our performance there was an audience member who was way too drunk and was harassing our singer. People, keep your hands to yourself so that everyone can have a good time. 

Highlight:

The audience. Ignoring the one person, our audience as a whole was amazing. Dancing the whole time, singing the words even if they didn’t know the songs… It reminds us why we love playing music. We can’t wait to go back to Victoria!

Other comments on Rifflandia: I made a V- Log for our day at Rifflandia – http://youtu.be/k22buM6LJJ4

Pat Codere (Mindil Beach)

mindilbeach

I would say a highlight for me musically was The Funk Hunters — unbelievably high energy show. And Anian surf shop is an awesome new venue for Victoria. A unique intimate outdoor venue. Love it.

Not too much bad stuff to report! It was a ton of fun!

Laura Smith (Rococode)

ROCOCODE 2014 by Lynol Lui

The good:

Rifflandia is hands down one of the best festivals in Canada. People in Victoria love to have a good time and experience new music, which really makes the whole thing tick like clockwork. Keeping everything local (food, beer, small venues, lots of local bands) creates a special hometown feel. (Though, it IS my hometown, so maybe I am biased.) We also had an amazing crowd out to see us. A good, sweaty time was had by all!

The bad:

Not being able to time travel and see more bands all at once.

The ugly:

The morning after.

Highlight:

Besides watching any band perform at Alix Goolden Hall, and my Mom getting on stage to dance with Girl Talk, we were lucky to be asked to perform at the Atrium for the War Child Lounge this year. It was a really special event, the room is amazing to play in and the audience was so rapt and supportive. Plus the event is all about raising money to educate children in war torn countries to try and prevent future warfare. It’s a great cause to be able to support.

Other Comment:

Rifflandia 2015 can’t come soon enough.

Napalmpom

napalmpom

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly? We’re more of a Once Upon A Time In The West kind of band. We’ll go with it.

The good:

Anytime we play a city for the first time, I assume no one will be there and no one will care. It’s a defence mechanism, I suppose. So, the good? People were there (and the show was a blast). We got to share the stage with a whole lot of genuine folks; genuine friends. More good? Victoria-based Shake! Records released our album on cassette at Rifflandia and it was our first time meeting Mattie from the label, confirming our belief that Shake! are in it for all of the right reasons. Those ferry rides sure are purty. Considering it was a blizzard just a couple of days earlier in Calgary, the summer weather was a nice treat. The venue we played at was pretty gorgeous and the bar was shaped like a guitar. We have loose plans to recreate Brian Adams’ “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” video next time we roll through town as a result. Last but not least? Surprisingly great jerk chicken roti (and cheap Dark N’ Stormys) at The Reef.

The bad:

I guess the house sound tech decided to bail on the venue when he found out the first two acts were on the quieter side. It’s his loss because Astral Swans and Raleigh were a joy to watch. This also turned into a bit of a good’n, since it ended up being an ALL-Alberta showcase, with a pal of the bands from Calgary filling in on sound duties at the last minute. It added to the sense that Calgary finds the party in every situation, I think.

The ugly:

I think someone decided to mop the floor with Coca-Cola instead of soap and water. It was sticky. But we’ll choose to call it part of the venue’s ‘character’. All in all, it was nice to be welcomed to the Land of Riffs so open-armedly. If that’s a word. I know it’s not ’cause I looked it up. That’s one of those skills that I learned in my schooooool (etc.).

Felicia Harding (Isobel Trigger)

isobeltrigger

The good:

LOVED Dragonette

The Bad:

My hair on the eve of day 4 (bride of Frankenstein) due to excessive teasing/hairspray/headbanging. BUT it looked great on Saturday night!

The Ugly:

The line-up for Distrikt nightclub on Saturday night! 45min and still no dice!

Highlight:

Am I allowed to say our show!? Metro Theatre exceeded expectations! One of our best to date – it was amazingly fun dancing with the crowd and the sound was fabulous!

Other comment:

ROCK ON RIFFLANDIA! Best fest in the west!!

Rich Aucoin

Photo by Brett Reid - www.BrettReidPhotography.com

The good:

Girl Talk

The bad:

Nothing

The ugly:

Impossible

Highlight:

Those community singers who were going around singing…they say Viva La Vida by Coldplay at Warchild and it was amazing.

Rosie June

rosiejune

The good:

Victoria is such a beautiful setting for a music festival… best crowds.

Riff also seems to be home of the summer fashion closing ceremonies.

The bad: The sun.

The ugly: The sun!

Highlight:

Death Cab For Cutie. “I Will Possess Your Heart.”

Other comment:

Thanks to everyone who came out to the show. Andrew and I had a great time playing for you! Hope to be back again soon.

Robbie Slade (Sabota)

sabota

The good:

The production. PK sounded amazing and they were such rad dudes to deal with.

The bad:

Some security guards were fucking assholes. Usually the small ones. The big dudes were chill, haha. The bouncers at Lucky took the cake for most evil. The plus side is that they were only working Rifflandia, I hear.

The ugly:

Me every morning. Geez!

Other highlights:

I was playing music for 90% of the time I was awake. I made tons of friends and jammed a shit load at my old friend Dougal’s house. He is an amazing violin and guitar player and singer and he led some incredible jam sessions. All improv. It made my summer.

Georgia Murray (LIINKS)

georgiamurray

Riff was all good – no bad and too many beautiful people to count. We were so hyped that so many people came to check our set and we’ve got mad love for the city of Victoria and Atomique for showing us love. Can’t wait till next year.

Kytami

kytami

My highlight was our performance on Saturday. I was so stoked to have so many people show up at our early timeslot and give us such positive energy and feedback. The bad and ugly was that I was actually very sick with a flu all weekend and had to dig deep to deliver my performance that day. I had to spend the rest of the weekend in bed and missed seeing all the wicked music and catching up with friends. I always hustle pretty hard but sometimes you just need to listen to your body and take time to rest!

The Glorious Sons

theglorioussuns

The good:

Everything. Best organized festival we have played. They really took care of the artists.

The bad:

0 [zero]. Had an awesome time.

The ugly:

Nothin’.

Highlight:

Partying backstage with free booze.

We Are Scientists

We Are Scientists press shot

The good:

Weather, location, people, and lineup.

The bad:

We were only in town for about 48 hours. We had received no warning about Victoria’s brutally seductive charms. Leaving was very, very bad.

The ugly:

Friday night we put something like 40 oysters and a gallon of wine EACH into our bodies, and nothing else. Saturday morning was hideously ugly.

Highlight:

Danny Brown. Probably. We got there too late to see him.

Comments:

We’re moving to Victoria.

Astral Swans

astralswans

The good:

Winning the $1500 Phillips brewery gift certificate in the Rifflandia underground fightclub.

The bad:

Losing the $1500 gift certificate in a poker match, with a malleable Sylvester Stallone statue in the wax museum.

The ugly:

Going berserk and chewing off Sylvester’s arrogant, bloated, waxy face, after losing the poker hand.

The highlight:

The music, duh! You think I like fighting? Nah – I just like hop circle a bunch … And blood, and wax.

Rod Campbell (Mindil Beach)

The good:

Anian – terrific new venue!

The bad:

I liked it so much there that I never went to any other venues.

The ugly:

Soles of my feet after dancing barefoot to Girl Talk.

Highlight:

Airbourne

Other comment:

Food trucks in Victoria are better than in Vancouver.

Marshall Wildman (222)

marshallwildman

The good:

The night venues, namely Alix Goolden, Metro Theatre, and Wood Hall. To me, a night venue pass is more valuable than a park pass. Intimate shows in amazing sounding rooms. Not to be missed.

The bad:

Being out of town and missing Thursday, Friday, and half-day Saturday.

The ugly:

C’mon now, there’s none of the sorts at Rifflandia!

Highlight:

Half Moon Run. I’ve yet to meet a person who leaves a HMR show unconvinced that they’re the best band in the world.

Sam Weber

samweber

The good:

No beer garden BS. The mixed demographics of families and partiers in the same place seemed to keep everyone on good behaviour.

The bad:

Chris Walla is not in Death Cab anymore.

The ugly:

Literally nothing.

Highlight:

Half Moon Run x 2

Other comment:

Through the years Rifflandia has not only remained the best music festival I’ve ever attended, it is the most inclusive and empowering cultural event Victoria has to offer. I feel consistently fortunate to experience it. Thank you to the organizers and the volunteers for running the tightest ship. Where the hell do they go from here to level up next year?!

Brandi Sidoryk (Sidney York)

copyright Michelle Edwards 2014

The good:

The venue. Studio CMCT was CBGB meets high school bush party. We loved it.

The bad:

Our time at Rifflandia was too short. We couldn’t stick around, and caught a 6am flight to Germany the next morning.

The ugly:

Us, circa 5am the morning after our late night show, in the Tim Horton’s line at the airport. No one looks good that early.

Highlight:

Meeting new band buds Punkerslut when we boosted their tour van.

Danimal House (The New Groovement)

danimalhouse

The good:

Gettin’ to play with so many amazing bands and being a part of such a fantastic festival!

The bad:

Having to miss some acts I really wanted to see because there were other ones I really wanted to see!

The ugly:

Um…nothing? Everyone was beautiful!!

The highlight:

As a music fan, probably Keys n Krates….they blew my mind! Although I heard Latyrx was awesome I didn’t catch them.

Other comment:

Thanks so much to Atomique productions for having us as a part of Rifflandia. Hopefully we can make it an annual tradition!

Dear Rouge

Alright, the good was that there was a main festival stage and then a bunch of after parties. These are our favourite festivals to play ’cause the music is much bigger than one festival site, which also allows a lot of bands to play the festival. Awesome. The bad is that we played in Toronto in the Saturday and we flew all night and we were only able to attend Sunday when we would have loved to hang out for the full festival. Highlight for us is that this is our second show in Victoria, ever, and we were privileged to be on the main stage at Riff. The crowd was great and we had so much fun during our set.

Sandy Powlik (Lola Parks)

lolaparks

The ugly:

Line-ups, messy ppl.

The bad:

Line-ups, sound (for us at Wood Hall Fri. night).

Comment:

Artists should get VIP.

The good:

Variety of venues, option of dry and wet venues, proximity between venues.

Highlight:

…. sunshine & heat

Little Wild

thelittlewild

The good:

The whole Rifflandia experience. The music, the people and the hookah lounge.

The bad:

Riff ending.

The ugly:

Not too many uglies there. Lots of beauties

Highlight:

Playing to a packed Copper Owl, seeing NEEDS and going to the beach.

Other comment:

We will for sure be coming back to Victoria very soon

Bob Gronotte (Electric Oak)

electricoak

The good:

Way too many good things to say. The organizers for putting together another amazing festival. Pickwick at Alix Goolden was spectacular.

The bad:

Monday… feeling a little rough today.

The ugly:

I think a lot of people missed out on another great festival because of the lack of superstar acts. The complaints about the lineup were unwarranted. Every headliner completely blew me away. All with completely diverse sounds.

Highlight:

I am sad to say that after many years of denying Death Cab from my life I have become a huge fan over night. The intensity of their performance was shocking. But, with a somewhat questionable future for the band, given the retirement of the guitarist, I may never see them again. Lamenting in that thought.

Other:

Can’t wait for next year

Reuven S (The New Groovement)

Well, there was a lot of good… I can’t speak on behalf of the WHOLE band, of course, just myself. But I loved Kytami, Serena Ryder, and Latyrx especially. Also, really dug some of those acts at the CMCT stage on Night 1 (Luca Fogal and Fox Glove).

The bad?:

Well, nothing was really bad except the line-ups to get into most of the venues – a testament to the popularity of the festival and the hard work of those guys at Atomique headquarters.

The ugly:

Haha, probably when Ratking started their set with “What’s up Vancouver?!” Followed by the other member saying, “it’s Victoria M*(#@ F*$%^!” To which the first member replied, “I’m so F*&$#@ing high right now…”

Highlight:

Well, this one I can answer on behalf of my band – playing to a packed house of crazy dancing music lovers in a random little venue (Wood Hall) was the highlight, for sure!

Other comment:

Well, if there was a “surprisingly good” category – I’d say that Spanish-speaking band Le Butcherettes. With their bloody aprons, weird dance moves, crowd surfing and in-your-face rock, all I could say when it was over was “what… just… happened?”

Rennie Foster

renniefoster

The good:

The Wolf Sheep venue set up. Taal Mala’s set there. The super up-for-it Lucky Bar crowd I played for. Death Cab for Cutie. Dancing with my daughters on stage during Girl Talk. Silk Road tea booth. Latyrx were super dope. The night stage manager Degree travelling from venue to venue via skateboard. Meeting Juju from the Beatnuts and telling him the story about when we called their 1-800 # in the early 90s. Dimitri and Nick remaining totally down to earth bros when they are so obviously ruling. Rifflandia in general is just great. One of the tightest fests going anywhere, IMO.

The bad:

HUMANS “DJ set” at Anian. Sorry guys, I really like their music actually, and stoked for their success recently, but leave the DJing to the DJs, guys The melodramatic “Boiler Room-esque” posing combined with the most basic DJing and pedestrian hipster techno was kinda over the top. Also, SonReal was kinda corny, IMO, sorry. …I don’t like being harsh critical, but you asked!

The ugly:

The porta-pottys in the park at 9pm Sunday. Hahaha. .. and me after my set.

Brett Faulkner (Isobel Trigger)

The good:

Airbourne and Head of the Herd.

The bad:

I may have broken a drum kit.

The ugly:

Everyone there was beautiful; I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.

Highlight:

People pouring onto the little bit of dance floor that existed in Metro Theatre and making our set a really memorable one

Tobias Schuch (Smash Boom Pow)

smashboompow

The good: 

Hanging out with friends I don’t get to see enough. I met such a core group of people at Rifflandia last year who I haven’t spent more than a few days with in the last year, so definitely buddy catch ups. Music festivals unite so many groups of people, there is no shortage of new rad people to meet.

Also, as egotistical as it is, starting to feel a little fame and wandering around the festival grounds with Ulysses and having no more than 10 minutes pass between people coming up and asking if we’re the dudes from Smash Boom Pow. YEEEESSS.

The bad: 

Having to leave early and miss Death Cab and Girl Talk. Recording sessions in Vancouver were calling. No rest for the wicked.

The ugly: 

Some of the kids who were just out to get shitfaced. Its blatantly obvious when people are using shows or festivals as an excuse to fill their bodies with drugs and booze and lose all track of themselves. Not a pleasant sight leaving Market Square and seeing an underage guy with his eyes rolled into the back of his head trying to fight the police as he’s getting thrown into the paddy wagon because he has zero idea what’s happening to him.

Highlight: 

Dralms & JPNSGRLS. Dralms is such a cool band, such a deep mood all show. Incredibly tight players, great music, great dudes. JPNSGRLS rip! Turbo high energy show, loads of crowd interaction, a real hype performance without a doubt. Their live set got me more hyped than anything else I saw all weekend.