The Rifflandia Journal - Days 1 & 2

Rifflandia is one of the high points of music calender every year in Victoria, It is a powerhouse that has grown in size and profile each year and this year was no different. I was there to cover it for the Martlet and while one of my round-ups was printed, this log, taken from my voice recorder was supposed to run in installments afterward but due to high levels of busy-ness around the Martlet, it sort of fell by the wayside. Rifflandia was a super fun experience (If not as stellar musically as some previous years) and I'm happy to have Rags Music as a means of sharing it with you all here. Relive the glory. Do it.

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 Day 1 – Thursday, September 12

9:30 – Since the schedule was released some weeks ago my plan has been to begin my Rifflandia with the mighty Pigeon Hole but tonight I found out that a friend’s divorce became official today after a year-long waiting period and celebratory drinks are in order. As such I find myself running a bit late so I’m at Phillip’s Backyard a bit earlier than I wanted to be watching Disco 3 and am horrendously bored. I used my press powers to skip the very large line but in doing so have separated myself from my friends who are still stuck outside. A blessing and a curse.

10:18 – Pat Mahoney has been playing essentially the same beat for 30 minutes. The brightest moments are when his higher-profile LCD collaborator and friend James Murphy comes to adjust a stray knob here or there and share a laugh. My ex girlfriend is dancing a few rows behind me, awkwardly looking away whenever I see her. We’re still best friends and this is really some strange behaviour.

10:43 – As James Murphy takes over the stage the sound drifts to a place drastically more interesting than the one Pat Mahoney had us in. Murphy’s tastes are decidedly eclectic running through African music, jazz and funk. This is still very electronic music, something I still struggle with, but a sense of celebratory fun is still very much palpable.

 James Murphy flipping the monitors over to make up for the perceived weakness of sound. Photo by me. 

James Murphy flipping the monitors over to make up for the perceived weakness of sound. Photo by me. 

 11:35pm – After leaving James Murphy I have arrived at Market Square for Vancouver DJs the Funk Hunters, whom I have a passing familiarity with from Shambhala. The first noticeable thing is the sound. It took a few years but Calgary outfit PK Sound owns Shambhala and this signals the beginning of their eventual takeover of Rifflandia too. It sounds (And looks) too good in here for the company not to be asked to provide more sound for the festival in the future. I was having an argument with my electronic music guide Hingle McCringleberry (Alias) about House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” He was tired of the song because DJs are infamous for playing the song, unchanged in any way, at a large portion of party shows. The Funk Hunters, despite being dubbed “Shit Hunters” by McCringleberry, overcame the naysaying and  took the best part of the song, “Get out your seat and jump around!” and built one of their vastly enjoyable party tracks around that refrain alone. Really, that’s all you need.

 Look how much I'm having at the Funk Hunters. Dirty bass lip and everything. Fuck you, Hingle. Photo by C-Note Photography.  

Look how much I'm having at the Funk Hunters. Dirty bass lip and everything. Fuck you, Hingle. Photo by C-Note Photography.  

 1:06am – I’ve wandered into the bizarre world of New York MC Mykki Blanco. He might not be a great rapper, technically speaking, but the guy is pushing boundaries and I respect the fuck out what he’s doing. Hip-hop can be a wasteland of machismo and bullshit posturing and I admire a guy who has the balls to strap on his garter belt and stockings, put on his lip stick, take the shirt off his rippling muscles and jump onto a stage and rap over the some of the most insanely gangsta beats this side of Deathrow. Every genre needs someone to push the boundaries and every listener needs to have their cage rattled once in a while. Mykki Blanco was the kick in the skull this night has been sorely lacking.

 Mykki Blanco. My mind was blown. I had to go to bed after this. I took this photo. 

Mykki Blanco. My mind was blown. I had to go to bed after this. I took this photo. 

 Day 2 – Friday, September 13

11:45am – I’m not a drinker but the beer consumption has already begun here at home. A friend of my roommate is staying with us during the festival and I will blame his presence as the reason for all this beer intake. Bad influence.

5:28 pm – The first day of Royal Athletic Park has been a total winner thus far. Easy Star All-Stars rocked my face off with their vibrant grooves and ultra-affable reggae vibes. I’ve never really been a Radiohead guy – sacrilege, I know – and I never enjoy “Karma Police” more than when it’s coming from this band. I did find it a tad strange that more people sang along to that song than they did to “Money” by Pink Floyd, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by you-know-who or even “Thriller” by that towering giant of pop music, Michael Jackson. Very strange indeed. Pffft, kids today. Right after Easy Star delivered a victory for reggae I got to see the very first performance from Mounties! This is a wholly exciting thing, having talked to Hawksley Workman recently and heard the childlike spark in his voice talking about this first performance with his friends. It was a magnificently fun show, with a group that was genuinely enjoying themselves throughout their time on stage. Steve Bays is a pro at hamming it up for the cameras. He looked like he actually wanted to just have sex with all the cameras. I think it’s the only way this could have been more memorable.
 Easy Star All-Stars. Killing it. Reggae represent. Photo by me. 

Easy Star All-Stars. Killing it. Reggae represent. Photo by me. 

6:55 pm – I’ve somehow managed to get backstage into an artists-only area. I don’t really know how it happened. I just followed some people and no one stopped me. These things are happening more and more then longer I do this writing thing, but I’m still a fan at heart. As such, I freeze up every time I see any kind of authority figure, convinced I’m going to get tossed out of where I am. Classified is posing for pictures and conducting an on-camera interview. Really, I’ve just come back here to stalk Hawksley Workman. I’ve interviewed the guy three times now and we seem to get along. I saw him back here a short while ago but don’t know where he went. More to come…

7:23 pm – Success! Not only did I meet Hawksley Workman, I got to meet his performing partner Mr. Lonely too. The whole thing was kind of ego boost as they said many nice things to me, about me. I will keep my gushing to a minimum, but really, it is a real treat any time you get to meet someone whose work you idolize. A big bucket of win for me here today. Also of note, Current Swell is still underwhelming, even from the far side of the field.

 "Star"fucker.  Mr.Lonely, me and Hawksley.  

"Star"fucker.  Mr.Lonely, me and Hawksley.  

 8:36 pm – I have left Courtney Love early. She seemed in good spirits and was a fairly amiable on-stage presence. “I’m a delicate flower. You fucking know it!” might be the best thing I’ve heard an artist say thus far. Love and her band, Hole, were never really on my musical radar growing up and this didn’t have the nostalgia factor for me that it seemed to hold for some other people I know. I mean, she sounded fine and her band seemed decent enough, but there was nothing particularly epic happening to keep me at the park. Though, it was a real pleasure to hear “Violet.”

9:06 pm – I’m at Phillip’s Brewery and I’ve come to a conclusion, I think I’m a hip-hop racist. There are white rappers I like, no doubt (Beasties, Brother Ali, Slug, Eminem, among others), but every time I see a white person on stage rapping, I’m immediately skeptical. They better be top-shelf or I’m going to dismiss them right away. Son Real seems like a good guy and even though he’s nothing like Classified, I’ve immediately lumped them together in my head. Holy fuck! Is that the horn line from “T.R.O.Y.?!” (“They Reminisce Over You” by Pete Rock & CL Smooth) It wasn’t right when Lupe (Fiasco) massacred it and it’s not right when Son Real uses it. Goddamn, when we people just leave it alone?! I’m too mad to continue talking.

11:35 pm – Action Bronson just rocked me. I got no hate for Danny Brown, but I’m not a huge fan so I wasn’t super-upset when he got denied entry into Canada by our border patrol (Beyond being upset because the border is just generally awful these days). Was really happy Bronson got pushed to headlining Phillip’s tonight. He was great. He was clearly enjoying himself and that sure radiated back at the audience. “Somebody give me some drugs to smoke,” might even be better than Courtney Love’s “delicate flower” line. Especially because he backed it up immediately by smoking some drugs handed to him from the crowd. On a more serious note, there was a girl beside me who was so drunk as to cause me great concern. I wanted to take her drink and tell her to find a friend to help her get home. I felt horrible for leaving her. Normally I don’t care about drunks, they’re adults and can take care of themselves, but once in awhile there’s someone who genuinely looks like they can’t take care of themselves and this girl definitely fell into that category. I’m sure part of it was a gender thing (I read too many awful news stories about members of my own sex for it not to be a thing), but I’d like to think just as much of it as a person-helping-another-person-thing. Would that have been offensive? Would have been in the right to take such action? Who knows.
 In Victoria if you ask for drugs to smoke you will get drugs to smoke. Action Bronson moments after making such a request. Photo by me. 

In Victoria if you ask for drugs to smoke you will get drugs to smoke. Action Bronson moments after making such a request. Photo by me. 

 12:34 am – I am fading rapidly. My energy reserves are at a record low. I’ve just left Longwalkshortdock who seemed to be killing the crowd in Market Square. He was a last minute fill-in for the Orb, as one of their members fell to a Danny Brown-like scenario at the border. I don’t know Longwalk’s music much at all, but he seems to be quite the showman, especially for a DJ. Brother is just fascinating. I’m not going to listen to this at home, but it’s fun to watch. Also cool because I used to live with one of his very good friends (Props, Dingo!). The night has been a bit of blur, but it’s been a pretty damned stellar night of Rifflandia-ing. Sleep must be acquired to prepare for the even longer day tomorrow.

 People in Market Square loved Longwalkshortdock. I loved taking this dramatic-looking picture.  

People in Market Square loved Longwalkshortdock. I loved taking this dramatic-looking picture.