#festivalseason - "Tall Tree was *pretty* fun. I guess," he said sarcastically.

The setting of a festival is of the utmost importance. Think of all the memorable festival experiences you've had and how each festival's setting added, morphed or amplified the music in a way that you couldn't predict. Maybe you made it through the wasteland of Bonnaroo, or soothed yourself in Old Man Rivs at Shambhala, or felt the cozy community of Atmosphere Gathering or <insert your amazing festival memory here>. No matter what memory of your surroundings you have, it's probably a safe bet that you didn't wake up to this every morning. Welcome to Brown's Mountain.

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#festivalseason - Five Acts You Gotta See at Tall Tree 2016

Celebrating its 7th birthday this year, Tall Tree has become one of the highlights of the West Coast festival calendar, bringing together the best musical offerings from the Coast and beyond, giving equal highlight to live instrumentation and DJ music. Their set-up of two stages at each performance area – so a DJ can start right away in a proper booth as soon as the live band has finished and vice versa – is a perfect way to keep the celebration going non-stop, and frankly something I’m surprised I haven’t seen more often. Nestled up on the top of Brown's Mountain in Port Renfrew, BC, Tall Tree caters to those festival goers looking for the huge party vibes of the biggest festivals but don't want to have to deal with the crushing onslaught of huge crowds. The smaller-than-usual head count makes sure that if you do things right, there will be almost no strangers left around you by the end of the weekend. I’m here to help you find the best grooves while you're up there, partying in the clouds.

Grab tickets and check day-by-day performance schedule over at the Tall Tree site!

jackLNDN. Photo courtesy of  Nate Vogel Photography .

jackLNDN. Photo courtesy of Nate Vogel Photography.


Tall Tree is a music festival dedicated to the best music the West Coast has to offer, but the self-described “electric disco man” is from half way around the world, hailing from the city that gave him his name. Any fans of dancing should be thrilled that the folks at Tall Tree made an exception for the reigning champion of happy house music. I stumbled into his set at last year's Shambhala Music Festival and fell instantly in love. It's nigh impossible to listen to the sweet disco that JackLNDN plays and remain in a bad mood. He gets the body and soul moving.


When talking about this lineup after it was first announced and mentioning Shad, I had two different people respond with, “The guy from CBC?!” This is unacceptable. Shad is an affable, competent radio host but brother might be one of the finest rappers Canada has ever produced. With each subsequent album, EP or guest appearance, Shad further cements his place among not only our most important rappers, but as one one of our country's most important and accessible artists. If this was a just world, we'd all be bumping Shad's deeply thoughtful, fun, positive raps from every speaker available. At a festival that doesn't feature a large amount of hip-hop, the chance to see such a top-flight talent can't be missed.

Kytami. Photo by Cassie O'Neil.

Kytami. Photo by Cassie O'Neil.


If you're like me – living on the west coast, consuming an endless diet of live music – you've probably seen Kytami more than once. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the violin phenom and I've also lost count of the number of times I've been impressed with her mastery of that strange, scary instrument. And if you haven't had the privilege of seeing her high energy, violin-laced EDM barrage, you're in for a real treat. In the last couple of years Kytami has ascended to seemingly peak power, delivering drum 'n' bass ('n' violin) so tasty and powerful that even I, famous non-lover of drum 'n' bass, can't help but dance my face off to.


Whether he's pounding beats or growing beets, Bousada is all about using the energy around him to create strong communal vibes and go-for-broke dance parties. A current activist and former farmer, Victoria transplant Graeme Bousada has carved a place for himself in the West Coast music scene in a very short amount of time. His performances are joyous dance parties that get grooves pounding deeply and asses shaking furiously. Bousada himself dances with impressive vigour as he pounds out his organic electronic beats manually, bridging the gap between performer and audience, fostering the sense of community that comes with the best live music.


The idea of sex at a music festival makes me cringe. The heat, the sweat, the dirt...I could go on. But, my weird neurosis aside, you can't go wrong with music built for sex at a music festival and if there's an act at this year's Tall Tree making sexier music than Moontricks, I have failed to see it on the lineup. The duo's ultra groovy funk-for-romantics beats are melded together with live guitars and harmonica that help ground the music and give the proceedings a real organic feeling that makes Moontricks accessible to both electronic fans and those who are still in the Realm of the Live Band. Find your lover, platonic life partner or even a willing stranger to share in the hip-winding joy that Moontricks is sure to deliver.

Odario Williams is much less Thunderous than Grand Analog's music, but no less awesome.

Canadian hip-hop is in the middle of a revolution. The sound coming out of the Great White North is literate, fluid and thumping. It is the sound of a generation that grew up on the pure, uncut goods from down South and decided to tread a path all its own but laden with respect for the tradition of not just hip-hop music but hip-hop culture as a whole. Few acts out there are going as strong as Grand Analog. It was awhile between records, but Modern Thunder was worth the wait. A few months ago I got ahold of Odario while he was doing some recording in Toronto to talk about what makes Canadian hip-hop unique, the greatness of Saukrates and how Catalyst makes him laugh. Much respect to one of the protectors of Canadian Hip-Hop culture, Odario Williams. 

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Shad teams up with Skratch Bastid and Saukrates(!) to continue dominating Canadian Hip-Hop.

The joy I get knowing that Shad, the most consistently awesome rapper working in Canada today, has teamed up with hella cool dude Skratch Bastid cannot be overstated. Though I'm a fan of awesome beats, no doubt, I don't know shit about the art of DJing but the moment I heard the Bastid split the difference between Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" and Dead Prez' "Hip-Hop" I knew he was a pretty fucking stellar DJ. I don't remember much about the rest of that night (Except that K'naan destroyed and played the still-good version of "Wavin' Flag") but that moment always stood with me. So when he and Shad teamed up for The Spring Up EP I thought it was a one-time thing. Boy am I glad I was wrong.

"Stylin'," the first single from Shad's upcoming joint, Flying Colours, is another damned fine slice of intelligent, graceful Hip-Hop. The duo even got Canada's reigning musical Swiss Army Knife, Saukrates, for some chill vocals on the hook. If this is any indication of what's to come Flying Colours  is set to be another winner. As if there was any doubt. Check the fresh new video out and see for yourself. Don't worry, if the smile on your face gets so big it starts to hurt or your head bobs so hard you think it's going to fall off, just hit the 'pause' button and take a couple deep breaths...