#festivalseason - Rifflandia returns to lay its genre-less assault and Victoria. Here are five acts that help you deal with the chaos in a constructive way.
Rifflandia (This year keeping Victoria up from Sept. 13-16) is a multi-headed beast that comes at you hard. There's a lot of stuff to sort through because there's a shit-ton of music to see at a glut of stages and too many good times to be had. Every year on these lists we lay down what we're looking forward to seeing, the gems we recommend, with little regard as to where they're playing. But when we thought about it for this year...why would we include anything at Royal Athletic Park (Rifflandia's main stages, running throughout the day Fri-Sun)? There's only one stage running at a time, so if you're there just go see the music that's on. There is some incredible stuff there this year like Beardyman (Seriously, Beardyman is a beast and a true creative force), Daniel Caesar, SonReal, Metz, Jessie Reyez, etc. Don't be a moron. If you're at R.A.P., just see the damned music. This year we bring you a list of recommendations that only looks to the night, to the times when the mass of humanity fractures into mini-parties all over downtown Victoria. Bass, hip-hop, soul, funk...you know what we do over here at Rags Music – grooves. Hit anything on this list and you're guaranteed to get your hips swaying and feet moving. Remember kids: Rifflandia is a marathon, not a sprint. We got a long way to go. Pace yourselves and take care of each other.
JF Killah (Saturday, 9:30-11:30pm, Lucky Bar)
So, this year at Bass Coast during the Radio Stage takeover by the legendary Vancouver drum 'n' bass masters SHADdjs, my friend and drum 'n' bass expert, Jerrrrrf, planted himself for the entire length of the marathon set. Three and half hours, to be exact. As I've stated before, I don't know a whole lot about drum 'n' bass, but I trust my friends so I made sure to keep going back and checking in with my homie throughout the afternoon. The set that kept me the longest and really had me going was courtesy of J.F. Killah. The big doses of grime and heaviness – without the overwhelming aggression I feel from a lot of heavier drum 'n' bass – was just what I needed. My path into learning about drum 'n' bass has been long and windy, but masters like J.F. Killah who incorporate such a wide variety of sounds into their repertoire are the ones who have helped my own development as a listener. Her work as one half of Levrige, whom admittedly I had heard before hearing J.F. Killah on her own, shows off an even grimier side, going deep into that extra-deep, slow-burning bass shit. With two hours to lay it down in an intimate place like Lucky Bar, this is the perfect time to get properly acquainted with one of the west coasts foremost purveyors of accessible drum 'n' bass with nasty bite.
The Sorority (Friday, 11pm-12am, Phillips Backyard)
Rifflandia has always been known for having at least few standout hip-hop sets every year and make no mistake about it, the one absolute your-a-dummy-for-missing-this hip-hop set of the year belongs to Toronto crew The Sorority. Keysha Freshh, Phoenix Pagliacci, Lex Leosis and Haviah Mighty are four immensely talented and differing MCs with flows and personalities that compliment each other perfectly. It's honestly kind of remarkable how seamlessly the four work together. Clearly united by a shared deep passion for hip-hop, The Sorority makes big bass hip-hop that'll get your brain lit up with lyrics and head nodding with deep beats. Their album Pledge is must-hear stuff for any Canadian hip-hop fans (And even if you're not in Canada, you should probably listen to it). They rocked Phillips Backyard earlier this summer at the Weekender, and made me an instant fan, but that was a daytime set and let's be honest, that big hip-hop is nighttime shit. As good as they were that afternoon, The Sorority at peak time on the biggest night stage is going to be unforgettable.
Megan Hamilton (Saturday, 12:30-2, Lucky Bar)
“Damn. This is Schmooooooove.” Go to Megan Hamilton's soundcloud, hit play anywhere on her tracks and at some point in the not-too-distant future, you'll hear yourself saying that. The Minneapolis producer/vocalist is a paragon of smooth bass. It's actually kind of ridiculous how slick her shit is. House music, Ghetto Funk, chilled-out bass, live vocals, horns – whatever she decides to throw into the mix, Hamilton smooths out all the edges, so that shit is ready to just slide down into your ear canals with ease. Her EP The Ride, released on the always on-point Westwood Recordings, is must-listen stuff for anyone who likes to chill but not get toooo chill. Hamilton has been working with a slew of some of the biggest bass acts around these parts like Stickybuds, Defunk, Slynk and recently appeared with other fast-riser Cheshire on the funk-fest “Burning Up.” Her remixes are seemingly all top-notch. Like, I'm not closed to the idea that Hamilton has made a sub-par remix, but I honest have yet to hear evidence such a thing exists. Of particular note are the lush, gently pulsing “Secret Place” from CloZee's Harmony Remixes and the bright and bouncy Manic Focus remix “Habit.” And as if we needed any more reason to be dead-excited to have her laying it down at Rifflandia, she just released the big-time funk of a new single, “Firefly.” I don't know what I more I could say in this small space to convince you but really, if you like dancing, if you like smooth, funky shit for your ears – make sure you rock with Megan Hamilton.
Gentle Mind (Thursday, 8-9pm, Phillips Frontyard, Do250)
Sometimes you find out about new music for silly reasons. Legit, I was drawn to checking out Gentle Mind because of their name. Gentleness is an overlooked quality in people and the word alone drew my eyes and piqued my interest. I don't know if “gentle” is the correct word to describe the Vancouver group – supple, liquidy, smooth, are all better words off the top of my head – but this is some damned fine acid-jazz/R&B/funk/something-or-other. It's just great music. The trio lays tremendously warm, shifting grooves creating a uniquely soulful bass for the vocal pyrotechnics of powerhouse singer Camille Brown. Their recently released EP After Earth is a snapshot of a band on the brink of doing something really special. (Of particular note are “Nighttime In Crema” and the gorgeous, lilting “Shifting Tides.”) Start your Riff off right with some tender Night 1 goodness from Gentle Mind. Sleeper alert.
Jennay Badger (Friday, 8-9pm, Electric Avenue)
First off, it's not “Jenny.” You gotta say it like Forrest Gump. Just the way it's written. I made that mistake once and I missed an interview opportunity with Jennay Badger, one of Victoria's most consistent purveyours of deep, bassy grooves. One of Rags Music's favourite DJ s in the city, we've covered her a few times, including a memorable instalment of 5 Questions with Rags, but we can't recommend a Badger set enough. House, disco, hip-hop, future bass – if it slides and grooves, Jennay Badger isn't afraid to cram it into her wide-ranging sets. A veteran of the west coast bass scene – far more of a veteran you would immediately think – her influences are wide and taste is impeccable. Watching her lay her sets down live is always a treat...few people seems as into their music as Badger and her joy radiates from the stage, infecting the groove seekers in front of her. We are big fans of getting the right start to an evening and getting a DJ as can't-miss as Jennay Badger to start the night off is a real special treat. Do it. (I wouldn't expect anything as chilled-out and downtempo as the mix below, but this mix fucking slays and I'll use any excuse I can to post it and get it into peoples' ears. Enjoy.)