#festivalseason - Atmosphere Gathering - Eclectic grooves and community vibes.

Nestled right in the middle of beautiful, tiny Cumberland, BC in Comox Valley on Vancouver Island is one of BC's music festival gems, The Atmosphere Gathering. It's a place where community can flourish, a family-friendly camping festival that's quickly established itself as one of the most sonically diverse musical events this side of the Rockies. It seems like an oxymoron, but the Atmosphere Gathering is a laid-back rager – perfect for those who wanna dance in the day and get to bed at a reasonable hour, or those who wanna dance their faces off late into the night. If you're looking for the perfect cap for the summer festival season in BC, there aren't too many better choices than Atmosphere. Last week the festival released its first line-up announcement, featuring 20 acts, live and electronic, crossing genres but keeping its roots in rhythm and groove. There's a lot for a music-lover to get excited about but here are the first four acts that jumped out to my groove-seeking soul.

Atmosphere Gathering takes places Aug. 18-20 in Cumberland. Tickets and more lineup details HERE.

Applecat

I had heard and seen the name Applecat popping up at events all over the West Coast, until I finally got the chance to see her incredible set at Rifflandia 2016, here in Victoria. I hadn't heard anything like it and I don't think I have since. It was an enthralling set of dense, earthy bass music that at the time I couldn't describe. Frankly, I still don't think I can do her music justice. It needs to be experienced. All the Soundcloud tags say “dubstep” but her music is more atmospheric, theatrical and sexy than any dubstep I've ever heard. It's impossibly deep and shadowy sounding music – I imagine that if smoke pouring through a keyhole could make music, it would sound like Applecat. The worldbeat flourishes she uses to pepper her music help her beats stand out, leap out of the speakers with an intensely unique flavour.

Slynk

I've lost count of how many times I've seen Slynk. I've also lost count of the number of times I've been utterly impressed with Slynk. (Take this, for example, from the first ever time I saw him rock the party.) Over the last few years he's evolved from his Ghetto Funk roots, adding more and more influences and weapons into his arsenal. Just stroll through and sample his already ridiculous output from 2017 – a hard hitting drum 'n' bass track “People Get Up” (w/ Granular Sumo), a straight-up old-school hip-hop track “So Cool” (w/ Illvis Freshly), the ultra-slick nu-disco groover “Disco Operator,” to name just a few – and you'll get a glimpse of the scope of the good homie's many talents. On any given night a Slynk set will traverse a staggering array of genres, but it'll always be funky and bouncier than a trampoline. There's a strong possibility of this being the most straight-up fun set at Atmosphere this year. Do not miss this.

CloZee

Hands down, CloZee is the most exciting glitch-hop producer on planet Earth right now. Her tracks and mixes are sure-fire body-movers, across the board. The French producer is an expert at mining for the deepest of grooves. There are few DJ sets I've seen that have engaged me so quickly and easily. Watching her engage with the music as she moves and sways behind her midi-board, pounding out those groovy, thumping, tribal beats is something indescribably special. Her debut performance at the legendary electronic-Mecca Shambhala was the most captivating thing I saw at the festival last year, a set that I've been sending to anyone who will listen. Pick an EP, a single, a mix...it doesn't matter. If it's got CloZee's name on it, either your body is swaying or your head is bobbing. If you listen to CloZee, you will move.

Astrocolor

In life and in music, I am a big supporter aggressive weirdness. Hence, I'm a big supporter of Astrocolor. I mean, how many times do you become aware of a band because they put out an album of all-original Christmas music? A Christmas album that sounds great at any time of year? What even is that? The Victoria outfit makes live, vibrant yet atmospheric dance music, perfect for those of us who enjoy the rhythms of electronic music but the engagement that comes from watching a live band. This is an enormously talented group of cats together making utterly unique, completely enthralling and ridiculously slick dance music.

Hello people of Earth! Meet K+Lab, your reigning Intergalactic Funk Champion!

In the few years I've been listening to K+Lab, I just plainly assumed that he was an alien – an intergalatic traveller with the funky secrets of the universe, merely stopping by Earth to enrich the funkless lives of our planets inhabitants.. His brand of sonic electronic goodness is impossibly heavy, thoroughly disorienting and frankly sounds like it came from another bloody dimension. But no, he's just a normal, albeit super-funky, dude from New Zealand. His performances are impossibly heavy forays into deep space funk, as he's up on the stage, funkifying unsuspecting crowds with his producer/DJ rig and the keytar that's become something of a signature.

“People really get excited when they see the keytar,” notes K+Lab. It was the same excitement that immediately gripped him when he first discovered this powerful part of his arsenal. “I was just walking down the street one day and I saw the keytar in a shop window. I walked past it then turned around and walked back and thought, 'Well, that's gotta be mine, now.' It chose me.” It was as simple as that. A warrior found his weapon and the rest, as they say, is history.

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#festivalseason - An in-depth musical review by a Groove Rider at Shambhala.

There is no experience like Shambhala. The mountain setting, the Life-giving river, the PK Sound, the hoards of beautiful people, the ridiculous stage designs, the colours, the art...all of it combines for one of the most unique experiences any of us are likely to find on this planet. But all of this pivots on the music. The best Djs, spanning nearly every genre of dance music you can imagine, provide the soundtrack for all the ridiculousness and that soundtrack is the thing is thing that keeps me coming back year in and year out. There are many places to read about the people and the culture of Shambhala, albums of photos by people far more qualified than me documenting the bliss (Check the Shambhala FB page for a cornucopia of said photo albums). So with that, here is my overly long, in-depth look at the way I spent my musical time on the Farm this year.

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#festivalseason - 6 stages, 6 acts to get down to at Shambhala 2016. (And a bonus warm fuzzy feeling.)

There is no place on the planet like the Shambhala Music Festival. Each year, along the life-giving Salmo River in BC - clearly Canada's most beautiful province - thousands of people gather around the semi-permanent stages that have waited all year, to build a colourful, loving, excessively fun community for three-to-five days (Depending on how you Shambs). The setting, the people, the music...it's been the basis for an entirely new part of my life. I have forged stronger friendships with old friends there, I have met new beautiful friends that I talk to near-daily and, last but not least, it opened me up to the thrillingly diverse world of electronic music. The learning curve is steep and I wouldn't have even started the process if I hadn't stepped onto the Farm for the first time a few summers ago. So, as we prepare to return Home a mere three weeks from now, I present my first batch of must-see (that-I-will-probably-get-distracted-from-seeing) picks.

Actually, first off, let's get mushy. Remember those new friends I mentioned earlier? Well, thanks to the lovely people at the Pagoda, they were able to have the most perfect wedding, early Friday afternoon last year. The day was a Pinnacle of Life. Two giant rainbow people, bursting with love, combining their powers once and for all in the heart of the most loving place I've experienced in my short time on Earth. To you two, to everyone who was there, to everyone who stopped by camp for a dance and to everyone who makes that wondrous place go, THANK YOU. I'll stop now.

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Russ Liquid Test

(Grove – Friday, 4PM)

This is the year I spend more time in the Grove and Russ Liquid is where I'm going to start. I don't really know what this “Test” thing is all about. I don't know if the homie is testing new stuff, playing with guests or whatever else, but it really doesn't matter, because if I've learned anything over the last few years of musical digging, it's that anything that has the name RUSS LIQUID on it is going to be of some major quality. It doesn't matter if he's working with heavy-hitters like Gramatik and Opiuo or working on his own, the guy clearly knows his music and, more specifically, he knows his grooves. Armed with his incredible trumpet abilities and a seemingly unquenchable thirst for sultry, hip-winding rhythms, Russ Liquid is guaranteed to be the perfect start to your first night of ultimate partying at Shambhala this year.

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#festivalseason - Five Acts You Gotta See at Tall Tree 2016

Celebrating its 7th birthday this year, Tall Tree has become one of the highlights of the West Coast festival calendar, bringing together the best musical offerings from the Coast and beyond, giving equal highlight to live instrumentation and DJ music. Their set-up of two stages at each performance area – so a DJ can start right away in a proper booth as soon as the live band has finished and vice versa – is a perfect way to keep the celebration going non-stop, and frankly something I’m surprised I haven’t seen more often. Nestled up on the top of Brown's Mountain in Port Renfrew, BC, Tall Tree caters to those festival goers looking for the huge party vibes of the biggest festivals but don't want to have to deal with the crushing onslaught of huge crowds. The smaller-than-usual head count makes sure that if you do things right, there will be almost no strangers left around you by the end of the weekend. I’m here to help you find the best grooves while you're up there, partying in the clouds.

Grab tickets and check day-by-day performance schedule over at the Tall Tree site!

jackLNDN. Photo courtesy of Nate Vogel Photography.

jackLNDN. Photo courtesy of Nate Vogel Photography.

JackLNDN

Tall Tree is a music festival dedicated to the best music the West Coast has to offer, but the self-described “electric disco man” is from half way around the world, hailing from the city that gave him his name. Any fans of dancing should be thrilled that the folks at Tall Tree made an exception for the reigning champion of happy house music. I stumbled into his set at last year's Shambhala Music Festival and fell instantly in love. It's nigh impossible to listen to the sweet disco that JackLNDN plays and remain in a bad mood. He gets the body and soul moving.

Shad

When talking about this lineup after it was first announced and mentioning Shad, I had two different people respond with, “The guy from CBC?!” This is unacceptable. Shad is an affable, competent radio host but brother might be one of the finest rappers Canada has ever produced. With each subsequent album, EP or guest appearance, Shad further cements his place among not only our most important rappers, but as one one of our country's most important and accessible artists. If this was a just world, we'd all be bumping Shad's deeply thoughtful, fun, positive raps from every speaker available. At a festival that doesn't feature a large amount of hip-hop, the chance to see such a top-flight talent can't be missed.

Kytami. Photo by Cassie O'Neil.

Kytami. Photo by Cassie O'Neil.

Kytami

If you're like me – living on the west coast, consuming an endless diet of live music – you've probably seen Kytami more than once. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the violin phenom and I've also lost count of the number of times I've been impressed with her mastery of that strange, scary instrument. And if you haven't had the privilege of seeing her high energy, violin-laced EDM barrage, you're in for a real treat. In the last couple of years Kytami has ascended to seemingly peak power, delivering drum 'n' bass ('n' violin) so tasty and powerful that even I, famous non-lover of drum 'n' bass, can't help but dance my face off to.

Bousada

Whether he's pounding beats or growing beets, Bousada is all about using the energy around him to create strong communal vibes and go-for-broke dance parties. A current activist and former farmer, Victoria transplant Graeme Bousada has carved a place for himself in the West Coast music scene in a very short amount of time. His performances are joyous dance parties that get grooves pounding deeply and asses shaking furiously. Bousada himself dances with impressive vigour as he pounds out his organic electronic beats manually, bridging the gap between performer and audience, fostering the sense of community that comes with the best live music.

Moontricks

The idea of sex at a music festival makes me cringe. The heat, the sweat, the dirt...I could go on. But, my weird neurosis aside, you can't go wrong with music built for sex at a music festival and if there's an act at this year's Tall Tree making sexier music than Moontricks, I have failed to see it on the lineup. The duo's ultra groovy funk-for-romantics beats are melded together with live guitars and harmonica that help ground the music and give the proceedings a real organic feeling that makes Moontricks accessible to both electronic fans and those who are still in the Realm of the Live Band. Find your lover, platonic life partner or even a willing stranger to share in the hip-winding joy that Moontricks is sure to deliver.