#festivalseason - Rifflandia 11 rounds out the season in musically diverse style.

Another year of Rifflandia and another year of a densely diverse musical memories to help get us through the cold winter months. Unbound by any genre allegiances, Rifflandia is free to mine any part of the modern musical map they deem worthy and to their credit, each year they dig hard to bring something unique to the city of Victoria. Something different than the swaths of other catch-all festivals that flood the market each and every festival season. And in their 11th year, Rifflandia did not disappoint. With 150+ acts over three days, four nights and 14 stages, there was more than ever to take in. We didn't stop for the duration of the weekend and in amongst the chaos, these were the acts that left the biggest imprints on our ears over the four relentless days.

Best Non-musical Thing We Saw At Riff - KARMIK

We're don't necessarily advocate drug use at Rags Music, but we damn sure as hell advocate safety and and taking care of each other. Thankfully the good people at KARMIK made their first appearance at Rifflandia. Breaking ground is nothing new to the team at Karmik, so it only made sense they were the first organization to bring a mass spectrometer to Vancouver Island, and establish a legitimate drug testing presence at Rifflandia. To give you how big of a deal that actually is, the legendary Shambhala Music Festival (Salmo, BC) took years of fundraising and donations to be able to provide attendees with the technology – at an event that arguably has more drug use than Riff. But, Victoria definitely has needed something like this for years, and even with local law enforcement pushing back, the lovely individuals of Karmik stood their ground and provided a much needed service in Victoria that has been long overdue. Hope to see them back next year!

Gentle Mind

One of the first acts of Rifflandia weekend, Gentle Mind took the stage at Phillips Front Yard Thursday night to show how to kick off a festival right. With a small crowd and a chill in the air, the Vancouver soul (Acid soul? Jazz soul? Soul pop?) group started with a small smattering of people – more photographers than festival-goers – and by the end of their set, the stage was packed and the people were eating out of the bands hands. The bands originals, including their standout “Nighttime in Crema”, popped and pulled in the listeners with their slickness, their depth and their soul. A couple of choice covers sprinkled in to their set helped give a new audience familiar touchstones: A lovely rendering of Haitus Kaiyote's sultry “Nakamarra” and a groovy as hell cover of The Weeknd's “I Can't Feel My Face,” the latter of which took me way too long to recognize. We singled out Gentle Mind as a band to watch at this year's Rifflandia and they didn't disappoint, setting the tone for another great weekend of music.

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#festivalseason - Rifflandia returns to lay its genre-less assault on Victoria.

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 Shah DJs, 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.

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