As it prepares to celebrate its 8th year of life, Tall Tree has risen to the top of BC's endlessly growing list of bloody awesome music festivals. Over here on Vancouver Island, up on Brown's Mountain in Port Renfrew, in the clouds, overlooking the world below like the gods themselves, Tall Tree has split the difference between laid back alt-rock festival and balls-to-the-wall rave, creating one of the most unique festival experiences around. Vancouver Island runs at a different pace than anywhere else in the province, nay, the country, and Tall Tree exemplifies all the facets of what makes being a music fan here on the Island so fucking great. Be as normal, as weird, as chill, as wild as you want...ON A MOUTAIN.
On a lineup as deep as ever with local favourites (And past 5 Questions guests) like Mat the Alien, SkiiTour, and Pigeon Hole, Tall Tree has expanded their reach further than usual to pack their roster more full than ever. Here are the first six acts that jumped out to my eyes on my first look through the lineup. Get after it, good people.
As I struggle to find myself a solid foothold on the vast mountain that is drum 'n' bass, Shapeshifter has found their way into my life like some kind of blessing from the headphone gods. The New Zealand 5-piece play relentlessly pretty liquid drum 'n' bass, throwing in heavy dollops of soul and dub reggae. Their live shows have garnered them sell-out, large-scale tours around their home country and spots at legendary festivals like Glastonbury. Highlighted by the ethereal but earthy vocals of P. Digsss, Shapeshifter's engaging live DnB opens up the genre to a whole new level of accessibility. It's important work, helping new aural seekers uncover the intense mysteries of this powerful form of music.
If Canada was more loving and protective of its hip-hop treasures, Grand Analog would be on the headphones and speakers of every head in the country. The Toronto group have long established themselves as standard bearers for all the best parts of Canadian hip-hop. A thunderous live show – anchored by a live band and energized by the ceaseless charisma and rhyme-chops of Odario Williams – has helped spread the hip-hop gospel of Grand Analog from coast to coast. Getting to see the Great Rhyme Dropper up on the mountain is going to be something really special and is probably Rags Music's pick for The-Can't-Miss-Set-Of-Tall-Tree.
The Cave Singers
So, the first time I saw the Cave Singers was on assignment, reviewing a show they played in Victoria a few years ago. I had no idea who they were, which took me into their show with no expectations. I left Sugar Nightclub that night a fan of the Cave Singers. They were touring in support of their incredible album Naomi, and the album immediately found its way into the regular headphone rotation, where it's enjoyed pretty consistent play ever since. Their latest, the self-published Banshee, is another home-run with its big beats and hazy-fun vibes. Check out the trance-inducing lead single “That's Why” and tell me with a straight face that this won't be among the most captivating things you could here on a goddamned mountain, under stars. MOUNTAIN!
One of the best Djs in Victoria, and past 5 Questions answerer, Murge, is something of a Tall Tree staple. On any given night Murge is going to flex his enormous talent and his insanely good taste in music but there's something extra special that Tall Tree seems to bring out in the good homie. Last year, as his set was nearing conclusion a few fellow dancers and I decided it was time to retreat to camp for a little regroup. We turned to walk up the hill away from the main stage and all of a sudden, BAM! Murge drops the most lovely and delightful rework of the singalong classic “Tiny Dancer.” Myself and everyone else walking with me stopped, and immediately turned back around. I can't wait to hear what sonic goodies my hometown's freshest DJ is going to bring to the party on the Mountain this year. MOUNTAIN!
If you were smart enough to get out of your house and check out the homies Moontricks on their most recent western Canada tour, you hopefully got there early enough to check out the soulful, sultry, one-man-band vibes of Frase. Armed with his self-produced beats, guitar and warm, soulful voice, Montreal native Frase gets people moving, winding their hips to his bountifully lush tunes. Watching an audience nodding with indifference to slowly being drawn in and grooving with Frase is a wonderful thing to behold. It doesn't take the groovy dude long to get people to stop their dancefloor conversation and start paying attention.
For the first time ever, drum 'n' bass makes a second appearance on a list I've put together. (It kind of feels like the Universe is going to crack open and swallow me up right now...) Marcus Visionary is one of the most renowned jungle Djs in the world. The Toronto jungle master is a hit-machine, rarely missing the mark with his tracks and mixes. Visionary is holding down the fort for reggae's influence on electronic music, tending the important ties between classic Jamaican sounds and the heavy vibes of modern bass music. I missed my first opportunity to see Visionary last summer and you can't be damned sure I won't blow it a second time. Come get join me and let's bathe in the grimy jungle vibes, on a mountain. MOUNTAIN!