What are we doing here? Are we celebrating the end of summer or the beginning of fall? It doesn't really matter. In just a few days Rifflandia will once again take over my beloved home of Victoria. Three nights and three days (Spanning four total days) of music,traversing endless territories of world-known and local acts, live and electronic musics, bound by no genre, Rifflandia looks to be more all-encompassing that ever in its triumphant, 10th year of of delivering aural goodness to the Canadian west coast. With all that music on nine stages, there's as much as ever to sort through and this year I'm taking a slightly different approach. Rather than trying to absorb all of the hip-hop and bass music I can, this year, in honour of Riff's 10th birthday, my must-sees are going to spread out over more sonic space than ever – but also still with lots of bass music and hip-hop vibes – trying to get a little bit of everything into this years Essentials 4 A Successful Rifflandia Guide.
Things kick off in just a couple of days. Get those tickets if you've been sleeping!
Fox Glove – Thursday, Copper Owl, 11-11:45PM
As I've been alive with functioning ears in Victoria for the last few years, I had heard whispers of Fox Glove for a long time before I finally had the the pleasure of witnessing the folk power trio. On the Tall Tree main stage earlier this summer Fox Glove laid down the most affecting performance I've seen in a long time. Since I lost my shit in an unstoppable flood of tears and a nose stuffed beyond belief, Fox Glove's achingly beautiful harmonies have been burned into my brain. This Rifflandia – one of the dancingest Rifflandias yet – if you're looking for music that's going to let you breathe and make you feel deep things inside of yourself that maybe you forgot how to feel, set aside a little bit of time for Fox Glove on night 1.
Murge/Astrocolor – Saturday, Phillips Backyard, 9-11PM
I didn't combine these two because they are sonically similar. They're not. I mean, they both hit the best pleasure centres in my brain and ears with their smooth musical stylings. Here I group them together because no two acts in the last couple of years have got me quite as riled up about my local music scene. I've spent the better part of a year talking up the fresh, warm hip-hop of Murge and the weird and smooth live acid house of Astrocolor. It doesn't matter how many times I see them, I'm getting something new, and more importantly something good, to dance to. These two acts, back-to-back, moving the masses at the big stage at Phillips Backyard is really going to be something special. If you like good music that get into your blood stream, accessible dance music that's going to make you move whether you want to or not, you should make it a point to be down at Phillips on Saturday night.
Mystery Headliner – Saturday, Lucky Bar, 10:30-11:15
A couple of things here – One, I know right off the bat that I'm contradicting myself by adding to the list an act on at the same time as Astrocolor, but such is festival life and sometimes difficult choices have to be made. And two, these two clearly chose this name to fuck with the heads of anyone who ever saw their name on a schedule or marquee, which should immediately disqualify them from making any list I make, but they're still on here because they're pretty rad. I saw these cats some months ago, in the Early Times, opening for the mighty Featurecast and they were up to the task of warming up the crowd proper before a legend. Familiar classics are injected with new energy and turned into dancefloor bangers in the hands of these two. Funky house vibes will be on the menu in the brick embrace of Lucky Bar. With Jennay Badger before them and Illvis Freshly right after, Lucky Bar might just be the place to be. I mean, if you're not already at Phillips for the other thing I just mentioned before. Sorrynotsorry.
The Leg-Up Program – Friday, RAP, 3:30-4:15
It's hard to believe a band that counts 16 members could be anything of a “well-kept secret” but Victoria's own Leg-Up Program managed to fly by the heads of many of the music-lovers around me for way too long. BUT NO MORE WILL THIS AURAL INJUSTICE STAND! I am here to tell you all to get your butts down to the Rifftop Tent on Friday afternoon to get your musical cups filled by this joyous, funky soulful Voltron. The Leg-Up Program features a slew of the finest instrumentalists in the city laying down serious funk vibes for the cadre of incredible of vocal talent that Leg-Up boasts. You want some deep soul vocals? How's about some bouncy, dexterously nimble MCing? Maybe some flourishes of powerful gospel music? I don't think it really matters what your lane is here. If you just like good music and you have ears, you're going to find something to cling on to within the massive scope of the Leg-Up Program.
SkiiTour – Friday, Capitol Iron, 11PM-12AM
An outdoor SkiiTour set after August, after the main thrust of Festival Season?! Yes please! It's always fun getting hot and sweaty at a SkiiTour show, but usually by this time of year we as a culture have started to move these sorts of things into clubs and whatnot, so the opportunity to see this pair of gems in the lovely, crisp Victoria fall air is a chance that shouldn't be passed up by anyone serious about the bass game. To say that SkiiTour is out here in these streets making some of the best house music around is true, but it's only a part-truth. Because they're making stellar drum 'n' bass and funk tunes, and always flexing their stellar music taste with the choicest of samples. Their Thursday sets at Shambhala have become the stuff of legend and, maybe more impressively, they're past 5 Questions answerers! Okay, that's obviously not more impressive, but it's still rad! If you've seen SkiiTour, you know what's up and if you haven't, this is the perfect time to remedy your failing.
Busty & The Bass – Sunday, RAP, 4:15-4:45, Capital Ballroom 11-11:45PM
Hailing from Montreal, Busty & the Bass might just be the hottest act on this whole lineup. They've been riding a steady upward trajectory for awhile, fuelled by their rambunctious live show and their insanely awesome jazz and funk-infused reworks of songs you know (And sometimes love). The level of dancing these guys demand with their music is pretty high, so put your comfy shoes on and get your butts ready for the jazzy onslaught. If you can muster the energy to get out and see Busty & The Bass at the Capital Ballroom on Sunday, after all the Rifflandia-ing you've done, you should do it, because a dark club with a busy dancefloor is the best environment to see these cats in. But luckily they'll be rocking those main stage feels at Royal Athletic Park for those too tired, or too young, to get into the Ballroom later.