Buck 65 Pop Up Show

At the beginning of November I was talking with Nick Blasko from Atomique Productions and he mentioned that they were going to start doing pop up shows at their Rifflandia Store in the Victoria Public Market. I couldn't have been more excited.  Less than a week later Atomique announced their first pop up show, Buck 65.

Buck 65's store appearance coincided with his two sold out shows at Lucky Bar on November 6th and 7th, 2014. His show at the the Rifflandia Store was much shorter, but certainly more memorable. It might go down as one of my favourite shows of 2014, and it was only five songs. 

Over a hundred people squished into the little store front and spread out into the walkway in front of the surrounding stores. Buck 65 and Tiger Rosa hid "backstage" in the stock room until they were ready to go on while the Atomique crew passed out fresh baked cookies form the community kitchen. The cookies were guaranteed to have at least 65 chocolate chips. 

If you haven't heard the lead single "Super Pretty Naughty" off Buck 65's latest record Neverlove I highly recommend you do that. Watching him change the chorus to something a little less super pretty naughty because there were kids was great. He still kept the dick lasers though. 

I can't wait for more pop up shows at the Rifflandia Store over the next few months. I can't think if a better way to kick off these free concerts than with Buck 65. 

More photos from Buck 65's performance can be found here.

Otalith Music Festival 2014

Previously posted on Victoria Music Scene. 

There is something magical happening in the wilds of western Vancouver island, the Otalith Music Festival.

It's rare to have such a well curated yet organic feeling music festival, but they've certainly done it with Otalith. Their band music selection blends perfectly with the surrounding wilderness and laid back atmosphere of the surrounding communities.

For the second year of the growing festival the organizers decided to add a second stage at Tofino Brew Co. for the locals who couldn't quite make to Ucluelet's main festival grounds. Here you could find the freshest beer the brewery had to offer on tap. Including their Spruce Tree Ale and seasonal beer, Fogust. 

Paperboy hammered out a White Stripes cover with more passion than Jack White while dressed as matching old-timey paper boys. They even had bow ties for sale at the merch table. Austin's Bright Light Social Hour headlined with an evening of festivities at the brewery with an arguably more intimate and energetic performance than Rock The Shores. The 250-300 people in attendance of that set were certainly in for a rare treat when it comes to live music. 

When the brewery wound down folks headed to Tofino's Coho Room for DJ sets or raced to catch the headliners Dear Rouge and Bear Mountain at the festival grounds in Ucluelet. 

Unlike the last time Vancouver Island had a chance to see Bear Mountain at V.I.C. Fest this set wasn't full of technical difficulties. As faery lights filled the perimeter a dance party broke out in front of the main stage. Confetti, inflatable pirates, and arms were thrown in the air as Bear Mountain slipped into a cover of the Tears For Fears song, "Everyone Wants To Rule The World."

As the night ended the party atmosphere followed the plethora of people camping at the nearby Ucluelet Campground. Bands and friends joined in the after parties, campfires, s'mores, and keggers. while It was certain that festival goers didn't want the fun to end. 

The second day of the festival started off slowly for some after the parties from the night before, but all it took was the wafting smell of pulled pork from the food vendors to lure everyone back. 

Jon Middleton fresh from Roy's wedding (his music partner in their band Jon & Roy) filled the festival grounds with his brand of west coast folk reminiscent of days spent on the beach around a fire waiting for that big wave. Jon Middleton is certainly a favourite on Vancouver Island for his unique voice and west coast vibes. 

Throughout the day the word "bestival" was thrown around by first time Otalith Festival goers who had never experienced a music festival like this before. Before entering the grounds you knew it was relaxed and family friendly. 

Victorian indie rock bands like Freedom Pony and Carmanah stood out with larger than life sounds. Both bands have grown more confident with their craft over the last year, and it shows. 

The choral pop sounds of Portland's Ages & Ages floated through the air effortlessly like the fog that had rested over the grounds earlier in the day. Children and adults danced at the front of the stage as the sun went down on the final day of the festival. 

Headliners, The Allah-Las sound is reminiscent of a different time. A psychedelic shoegaze pop that is deep and meaningful in the vein of The Yardbirds or The Zombies.  There was no better way to close down this year's festival than watching this talented band perform in such a beautiful setting. 

After an amazing Allah-Las set the festival organizers came out to a cheering crowd to take a bow. It's worth noting that all the organizers volunteer their time to put Otalith together and that they donate the proceeds to three local charities at the end of the festival. 

With well curated sights and sounds it is clear that the Otalith Music Festival is here to stay and ready to put their mark on the map as Vancouver Island's premiere destination festival.

Bellemare Records Launch Party

Several months ago I was sitting in a pub with some new and old friends discussing the prospect of starting a record label. It was an exciting idea, but shortly after that meeting I had decided that I would focus all my attention on launching and putting together the first YYJ Rocktographers show. 

On August 8th, 2014 those four fine folks I shared beers and conversation with so many months ago had their official launch party as Bellemare Records.

There was a certain magic in the air of Rifflandia HQ as people filed in. Each with some kind of special bond with the members of the record label. Strangers swapped stories over beers in anticipation of the musical performances that evening. 

Vancouver's Luca Fogale won over the crowd straight away with his stunning voice. The room buzzed in anticipation of Luca's solo set, and was far from disappointing. Soon the stage was filled with Bellemare's own Hawk & Steel. A band that has certainly made it's way here in Victoria, and is finally getting some well deserved attention in the local media. 

Closing out the night was Dougal Bain. Another Victoria band that I've heard a lot about, but have never actually seen. They were spectacular and genuinely excited to be part of such a unique event. 

Friday night was not only a celebration of the creation of a local record label, but the hard work and determination of four people trying to build something amazing. At the root of it Bellemare Records represents dedication, the true love of music and those who create it. With people like this at the heart of the Victoria music scene I know this town is heading in the right direction. 

Good luck to my friends Peter, Esme, Brittany, and Sam. I look forward to seeing and hearing more amazing music from you in the future. 

Buy the Snoqualmie / Hawk & Steel split 7" by visiting

More photos of the Bellemare Records launch party are on flickr. 

Otalith 2014 Launch Party

Previously posted on Victoria Music Scene.

UCLUELET – On May 16 and 17, 2014 the Otalith Music Festival threw two amazing launch parties in Ucluelet and Tofino respectively. The first featured The Slack Tide String Band and Jon Middleton at the Ucluelet Aquarium, and the second hosted Victoria’s Carmanah at the Tofino Community Centre.

2013′s Otalith Music Festival hosted acts like The Cave Singers, Current Swell, White Buffalo, Kathryn Calder, Northcote, and Yukon Blonde among others in arguably the most intimate settings you’ll ever see any play in. Otalith is the festival for the people looking to escape the crowds, but still enjoy the community feeling of any major music festival.

Unlike last year, the second annual Otalith Music Festival not only takes place at their beautiful festival grounds in Ucluelet, but in various locations throughout the Tofino area as well. Taking full advantage of indoor clubs, bars, and a brewery on the Friday night of the festival.

This year the second annual Otalith Festival taking place August 22nd and 23rd will feature Bright Light Social Hour, The Allah-las, Ages & Ages, Wake Owl, Shred Kelly, Carmanah, Bear Mountian, Coal Moon, Wil, Dear Rouge, Old Man Canyon, Scouts, Prestors Pistols, Jon Middleton, DJ Honrat, High Tide Collective, Paperboy, Freedom Pony, and more to be announced in the coming months.

Austin’s Bright Light Social Hour has remained one of the most talked about acts in Victoria since their appearance at 2012′s Rifflandia Music Festival. While this won’t be their only visit to The Island this summer it will certainly be the most memorable as there are rumours of a brewery performance in Tofino on the Friday night of the festival.

Another band still making waves after their Rifflandia 2013 performances is Bear Mountain, a band that was formed as a side project to Ian Bevis’s Top Less Gay Tekno Party. Bear Mountain has seemed to have gained more traction that their predecessor and have notably opened for Hot Chip, Bloc Party, and MS MR as well as playing major international music festivals like Lollapalooza and Sasquatch. Certainly a must see at Otalith.

The Otalith Music Festival continues to strive for a uniquely west coast feeling festival. A vibe that can only be felt and not described. If you are looking for an intimate music festival experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world while drinking amazing craft brews and making new life long friends this is the festival for you.

Otalith not only promises you an amazing festival experience, but something you will remember and cherish for the rest of your life.

Otalith Music Festival:
Tickets $80 Saturday Pass/$100 Weekend Pass – available at

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Back in ApriI caught Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at Lucky Bar here in Victoria, BC with some friends. I wasn't shooting that night, but I did have my Fuji x100s with me. Luckily I snapped a handful of pictures of the show including the opener Speedy Ortiz and for some reason I forgot to share them here on Also check out my pal David's review of the Vancouver show on Concert Addicts. 

Hope you enjoy these shots and please check out the rest of the Stephen Malkmus and Speedy Ortiz photographs on my flickr. 

Rich Aucoin

Personally one of my absolute favourite live performers is Halifax's Rich Aucoin. He's always a lot of fun to watch interact with the crowd. Confetti, parachutes, and the occasional boogie board happen. It's a shame his set was so short here in Victoria this time around when he opened for Mounties. Maybe one day we will see him put on a headlining show here as he is quite the draw.  Also sometimes accidents happen.

More photo of Rich Aucoin can be found on my flickr.

The Cave Singers


'No Witch' has certainly become one of my favourite Sunday morning records. I usually put it on while I make myself a cup of coffee, putter around the house, and catch up on work from the night before. Unsurprisingly before heading off to Zambri's for some breakfast with friends this morning I fired up the record. Sounding as good as it ever has. 

Vancouver based band, Hunting kicked off the early show at Victoria's Sugar Nightclub to lacklustre enthusiasm from a crowd too busy worrying about getting their next beer than checking out something new. Hunting was tight. The band worked as a unit more than a group of individuals and it showed that they were a well oiled machine. Ending off their set with a blue grass inspired jam it set the tone well for The Cave Singers. 

Seattle's The Cave Singers returned to the island for the first time since their performance at the Otalith Music Festival in Ucluelet last summer to a packed Sugar Nightclub. Victorian's were ready for a solid rock and roll show and weren't disappointed. 

Despite an apparent three hour sound check, lead-singer Pete Quirk's vocals were lost to the dull roar of the crowd. While the bass, drums, and guitar overpowered what little we could hear of Pete singing. I eventually had to take out my earplugs just to make sure that his microphone was in fact on. 

This was the first time in the six or seven times that I've seen the Seattle band play that this was an issue, but it could have easily been the crowd. The more I go to Victoria concerts the more I notice that the crowd is more interested in talking than actually enjoying and absorbing the amazing music that's being performed right in front of them. 

Beyond technical difficulties Pete Quirk's unique voice and elaborate dance moves shone through eventually. It was almost like as if he was channelling a young Gord Downie or Buck 65. His almost choreographed moves paired well with his lyrics and performance of the rest of the band. 

I'm already anxious to see The Cave Singers return to Victoria for another show. Maybe we will see them this summer during festival season at the likes of a Rifflandia headlining a night venue or side stage. 

More photos of Hunting and The Cave Singers on my flickr.

YYJ Rocktographers


I've had just under a week to come to terms with how the YYJ Rocktographers event went. Personally I'm still a little awe struck by the turn out and response from everyone who came out on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. 

Having 300 people walk through the door on Friday night was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I know established bands in this town that don't even get a third of that at their concerts sometimes. When there were already people heading to the show before we had the pictures hung I knew we were in for a good night. Even if that meant not eating my phad thai until the next morning. 

On Friday night there wasn't a single moment when the studio was empty. There was constantly 40+ people in there milling about, talking, drinking, and having a good time. Saturday was also pretty busy, but quiet enough to give people more of an opportunity to really check out the photos. Overall I think the event probably had close to 500ish people through the door. 

Were there things I'd change about the event? Of course, but they are small and trivial in the grand scheme of things. What I'd most certainly like to change is the amount of stress I had in the week leading up to the event. Somehow that last week not the months of planning beforehand got to me. Certainly next time things will be more automated. 

What's in the future for YYJ Rocktographers? Well, that's a good question. I'm already starting to toy with the idea of "what's next" for us. Without a doubt another show is on the horizon. It's just a matter or when. Do we keep the event annual? Do we make it semi-annual? Do we start doing installations elsewhere too? There are lots of questions popping up right now, but I think that's part of a successful event. 

Personally I'm still floored by the good folks in this town for coming out. It was mind blowing seeing people coming through that door for two days straight. Old friends, new friends, bands, promoters, other photographers, and everyone else. We have a crazy supportive community here in Victoria, and it's certainly worth not taking for granted.

I can't thank everyone enough. Espeicially Al, Teresa, Hawk & Steel, Carlines, the photographers, and everyone else who helped out over the last few months 
The future has big things in store for YYJ Rocktographers and I can't wait. 
Check out some of the photos on our Facebook Event Page. 


It's been about two weeks since I went to see Reignwolf. Since then I've been struggling to finish writing something about the show for my blog. Don't get me wrong the show was spectacularly entertaining and a blast to be at, but I've just been unable to focus on writing about it. 

I was first introduced by fellow photographer, Brian Van Wyk. He and I were standing in line to grab a beer before we started shooting Rock The Shores. I mentioned I was planning on skipping him to have some lunch and most likely another beer on top of that. He told me I could grab lunch anytime and I would regret not shooting Reignwolf for the rest of my life if I missed it. Brian couldn't have more right. Jason Cook (Reignwolf) was probably the best act I shot at Rock The Shores this year, and he has certainly become the talk of Victoria since that afternoon.

I was off on some kind of adventure. I think I was fishing with my dad in Mexico when tickets to Reignwolf went on sale. I emailed some folks back home to grab me a ticket, but they had as much luck getting a ticket as someone in a foreign country with spotty hotel wifi. 

The concert announcement displayed in my local record store's window simply said, "Sold Out Forever!" That was that. 

I'd reserved myself to spending one more night with the family instead of going to a concert. That was until I woke up from one of my holiday naps to find an enveloped crammed into my screen door. "Merry Fucking Christmas" read the envelope. Clearly it was from one of my friends. Inside was a note and a concert ticket. Michelle became my new best friend instantly. 

I couldn't have thought of a better way to end 2013 than going to one last rock and roll show. Especially when it came to being able to hang out with some really great friends who were in town for the holidays. 

Here's my good friend David Lacroix's post about the show on Concert Addicts. I highly recommend you check out some of his other reviews on there as well. He's a talented writer when it comes to concert reviews. It's a hard thing to do well, and he's one of the best out there. 

More Reignwolf photos can be found on my flickr.

Meeting Heroes


They say not to meet your heroes, but don't listen to them. Chances are whoever said that just needed better heroes. 

Without a doubt my path in life has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people I respect and admire. It's one of the things that makes me love what I do and the people I do those things with. While most see the idea of meeting a rock star as a life altering moment I see it as a way to connect with another human being. One who has harnessed their artistic abilities into something beautiful. It doesn't matter what they create whether it's a song, a painting, a sculptor, or a photograph you are experiencing their purest form. 

Earlier today I was talking to a friend who has had similar fortunes in his life. Now he is build a quite successful business for himself doing the things he loves with people he respects and admires. It's something special and it seems to be a rare thing. 

What can I tell you about the photograph of Brendan Canning I posted today? Well, the joke answer is that he's "gots 2 chill." This photo came from a brief conversation with him at the merch table after his show in Victoria in late November. We talked beards, going grey, and he correctly guessed my age. After a few minutes of bullshitting I asked if I could snap a few pictures of him with my Ilford disposable camera and he obliged with this pose. It's great and reminds me of the Hanson brothers from 'Slap Shot'.' 

This marks the second of Broken Social Scene side project photo I've taken with an Ilford disposable. Will there be more? I hope so.  

I've always had a great respect for Brendan Canning and it was exciting to have a chance to meet him. He made one of my favourite records this year, and not because he is a member of BSS. It's because it is a well crafted record made with love, care, and landlines. 

We need to do what we love and with the people we love. If we don't what's the point in doing those things?

More of my disposable camera and Brendan Canning photos can be found on flickr.

Band of The Month

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Last weekend I had the chance to hang out with some friends, and check out The Zone's Band of Month Showcase at Upstairs Cabret. This was the second of the two showcases, and like the first one earlier in the month it was completely sold out. They had to turn away guest list spots at the door. 

The Grass Tracks kicked off the night at the Band of The Month Showcase. It was a bittersweet evening for them. An exciting sold out show, the release of their new album, but unfortunately possibly their last show. The next morning their lead singer, Ki McKechnie was bound indefinitely for Calgary the next morning. With that in mind they put on one hell of a "going away" show for Victoria night. Despite the departure of Ki I think there is a solid future for the the rest of the band as each member is talented in their own right. The future of The Grass Tracks may be uncertain, but there is certainly a future. 

I've seen Carmanah three times now, and this is where they finally shined. The intimacy of the bar seemed to benefit the band, drawing the crowd closer to the stage with every song. Fiddle, djembe, flute, and finger snaps peppered their set with the eclectic sounds that are distinctly West Coast. Sounds that make you think of campfires on the beach. It was nice to finally see Carmanah hit their stride at Upstairs Cabaret. 

What is there to say about Towers & Trees that hasn't already been said? They are enthusiastic, hard working, and positive musicians. That's already been said, but needs to be stated again. After a stint with the Peak Performance Project the band returned to Victoria tighter, energized, and excited to make new music. Their shows have gotten more elaborate and exciting. Often featuring balloons, guests, and topless raptors. Every band member wears a smile even when in the most intricate parts of their songs. 

It's hard to not fall in love with Towers & Tree's infectious poppy songs. They are the type of band I've been hoping would make an appearance in this town for a very long time. Outgoing, happy, excited by the prospect of playing their own music for their fans. It seems like we've been stuck with mopey bands for while in Victoria. Bands who think the only way to justify themselves as artists is to bad mouth other bands and act like it is a crime against humanity when they aren't chosen to participate in The Zone's Band of The Month. 

Not every band of the month artist has been my favourite, but I have picky taste. The Zone does a good job a curating, cultivating, and establishing relationships with local musicians looking to make their mark.

Having something like Band of The Month in Victoria is essential to the music scene and I hope it never goes away.

More photos of The Grass Tracks, Carmanah, and Towers & Trees.

Brendan Canning

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It's been a pretty exciting year for Broken Social Scene fans. It seems like everyone in the band is making stellar music on their own. From Justin Peroff's Junior Pande tapes on my friend's label Spring Break Tapes! to Aurora's latest release, and now Brendan Canning's solid record "You Gots 2 Chill."

The other night I convinced a my friend David to come over from Vancouver and my best bud, Darryl to hit Brendan Canning's show at Lucky Bar. It was the last date of the Canadian portion of his tour before heading south to Seattle.

 I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the show surpassed anything I was prepared for. Having only listened to Canning's latest record a couple times on my walk to work it made me wonder how it would translate to a live performance. A full band and a rotating cast of characters from the opening band Dinosaur Bones (who you should most definitely check out) filled the air with a dense rich sound. 

When you listen to either of Brendan Canning's solo records (yes, I count his Broken Social Scene Presents record) you can hear his direct influence in the song writing and structure of Broken Social Scene's songs. 

Several years ago when we were still young and dumb, Darryl and I set off to Vancouver to catch a Broken Social Scene show at Deer Lake Park with Jets Overhead, The Stills, and Sam Roberts. It's was at the tail end of Broken Social Scene's tour supporting their second record, and it blew my mind. I'd never known that a band could be that big, that amazing, and make that much amazing music. It's one of the concerts I fondly remember that changed my life.  We couldn't even sit through Sam Robert's set on the hill we were filled with the electric energy that had come from Broken Social Scene. 

Since then I have seen Broken Social Scene several times and each time with Darryl. It's a thing we do. Despite having gone to several BSS side project shows without Darryl I was happy I could share the experience of seeing Brendan Canning with him. My flickr is filled with photos from all those concerts. 

After the show I picked up Canning's latest release on vinyl. I bought it on itunes when my local record store didn't have it in stock the week it came out. I'm currently writing this laying on my couch listening to it. It's a beautiful record. It's a natural progression of Canning's music and there are certainly elements that I could see show up on future releases of any of his projects. 

Before I left I had a brief conversation with Brendan Canning about growing his beard back, but unfortunately that doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon. Too much grey these days. He said I'll understand in a few years when I become less of a ginger. We shook hands and I grabbed a portrait of him with my disposable Ilford. I guess that's a thing I'm doing now. Taking pictures of everyone in their side projects. I got Aurora during Rifflandia. Maybe Kevin Drew is next? 

I highly recommend you check out Brendan Canning's latest record "You Gots 2 Chill." I'm currently in love with it and after every listen I have a new favourite song. 

More photos on my flickr.

John Vanderslice


 The Sunset Tavern feels small. Similar to the Media Club in Vancouver, but with more nicknacks on the wall from what looks like an old Chinese restaurant. The stage is tucked in the back corner of the room across from the bar. It's the kind of corner stage that reminds me of bars that no longer exist in Victoria like Steamers and Central Bar. Places that had food but also had great concerts several days a week. 

I sneak past a group of girls huddled around the soundboard to order some beers I've never had because this is a different city. Above me is a sign that basically tells you to "Order and Get Out of the Way" but in nicer words. I had to admire the efficiency of the bar I wish Lucky Bar would adopt this principle. 

I sipped my beer until John Vanderslice came over to give me a big hug. This is why I love this guy. He was honestly so happy to see that we had made it down to Seattle just for his show. Calling us "Canadian Heroes" for making the trek down that included a three hour ferry ride. We chatted for a few minutes before introducing us to Jacob Winik, one of the engineers from his analog recording studio in San Francisco called Tiny Telephone. He'd brought Jacob along to do sound for the entire tour. Jacob and I talked about when they opened Studio B a few years back at Tiny Telephone and the exciting news about opening the new studio in Oakland. 

Pretty soon Prism Tats took the stage. Who knew just a guy, a guitar, drum tracks, some pedals, and some distortion would sound so great. He was seriously a welcome surprise, but most opening acts are these days. I think artists and bands really strive to find cool, contemporary, and talented bands to open for them these days. Unlike in the days of my parents where the "backing band" was for the most part awful. I will certainly be picking up a Prism Tats record in the future. 

Before John and Jason Slota hopped up on stage I noticed the lighting in the venue wasn't great, but I could probably make due. I wasn't overly thrilled with all the photos I got, but I did take some I really liked. Harsh reds, blues, and pinks make it tough sometimes. Someone asked me about shooting in low light at this concert on tumblr my answer is here. 

As usual John's show was filled with laughter, jokes, banter between himself and Jason, oh and a few shout outs to us for coming down. One thing I did notice though is all his praise for Jason Slota. Jason has essentially replaced the rest of the band by playing multiple instruments during the show. Primarily the drums and Moog. His drum solo at one point brought on declarations of Jason being a "golden god." A just and fitting title for him in my opinion. Seeing a talented musician like Jason Slota used to a potential I've yet to see in most indie rock bands. 

JV eventually dismissed Jason for a quick break so he could play some songs solo. One of which was "Numbered Lithograph." It is hands down one of my favourite songs off Emerald City if not all of John's discography. Quickly he followed it up with "After It Ends" off his album White Wilderness. The song has been stuck in my head  ever since. 

On this tour John's songs are slightly rearranged, with heavy and aggressive notes added by an electric guitar. All while stay grounded, but not without sticking into your mind. The whole set I was thinking "I hope someone is recording this." Songs like "Teaspoon of Codeine" I wouldn't expect to be played heavily on electric guitar with the kind of urgency that you'd find on many songs off Cellar Door. A welcome and surprising change. I was quite a fan. 

The set was certainly Emerald City heavy, but I'm not going to complain about hearing my favourite songs. There was a surprising lack of songs off Romanian Names. I'm not sure many noticed that tough. The songs off of his latest record, Dagger Beach were crisp like the autumn air outside the tavern. Seeing the songs live brought a new life to an album I fell in love with earlier this year. 

After playing a couple Bowie songs John and Jason jumped into the crowd to play two more songs acoustically. JV armed with his guitar and voice, Jason with part of his drum kit, and the crowd with their voice. It was wonderful hearing a room full of people singing along to "White Dove." After that he was joined by a lady from the crowd he'd met that day to duet on "Trance Manual." I really feel bad for not remembering her name because she had a lovely voice. Then again so did the lady singing next to me most if the night. 

It was a wonderful and quick trip to see a friend play a concert. I'd have no issue ever traveling anywhere to see John Vanderslice play a show. He's a thoughtful, caring, and extremely talented man. I highly recommend you check him out on this tour and buy some of his records. 

More photos of John Vanderslice can be found on flickr.

Rifflandia: AroarA


AroarA was the band I was most excited to see during Rifflandia. Having only heard a few demos and a quick listen to their debut album "The Pines."

I'm very fond of Broken Social Scene, their side projects, and their record label Arts & Crafts. There is little doubt in my mind when it comes to trying out new things from them. Andrew Whiteman in particular because of the role Apostle of Hustle's records have played in my life. 

About six years ago I picked up Apostle of Hustle's record National Anthem of Nowhere while backpacking across Europe for a few months. As my trip was winding down and I was running out of time and money I found myself on a ferry from The Netherlands to England laying on the exposed car deck. Listening to this record for the very first time. As I stared out at the strait that separated me from one of the best adventures of my life the song "National Anthem of Nowhere" came on. That moment is permanently etched into my memory. A fixed point in time. 

My friend Jay hipped me to Andrew Whiteman's latest project with his wife Ariel Engle about eight months ago. He passed on some demos or live recordings that really excited me about the prospect of seeing AroarA live sometime in the future. Luckily enough they got added to the bill of Rifflandia in July.

I snuck in slightly exhausted from a day of shooting the main stage at Royal Athletic Park, and slumped against the wall. I fought off sleep during two very good bands, but they weren't what I was here to see. 

When AroarA took the stage their set up was small. A pair of guitars, a drum machine, a sampler, and what looked to be a guitar made from a cigar box played through out the show by Ariel Engle. A tuning peg on Andrew Whiteman's guitar had broken off on the flight from Montreal to Victoria. Frequently he'd reach over for a pair of needle-nose pliers to twist his strings into tune. 

AroarA's performance was liquid. It seemed almost choreographed. The couple moved in unison only communicating in unspoken words, glances, and telepathy. A beautiful thing that comes with trust and love of a companion I'm sure. 

Since the festival ended I've heard from several people who were in the small audience at Metro Theatre for the performance that it was one of their favourite parts of the festival. I'd certainly say it was one of mine. They benefited from the intimacy of the small venue and the theatre atmosphere.

After their set I had a chance to talk to them for a few moments after they cleared up their gear. Ariel and Andrew are wonderfully gracious people. Very sweet and seemed genuinely excited to connect with a fan. They were nice enough to let me take a portrait of them with my Ilford disposable black & white camera. I'm going to go on record to say it's my favourite photograph I took of the festival. 

I highly recommend you check out their latest record, and see them if you get the chance. You won't regret it.

Rifflandia Music Festival

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It's been about two weeks since the kick off of Rifflandia, and I'm finally starting adjust to normal life again. Which is good timing as I'm heading on vacation for a week in not so sunny Mexico. 

To be honest this wasn't my favourite Rifflandia, but it was a good one. I got to shoot lots, a SD card fail, slept on Shayne's couch, snuck into VIP, and got to hang out with a million friends I don't see enough of. 

I'm not going to write a review of the festival like I'd normally do. Rifflandia is just too big and encompassing for me to squeeze into a few posts. Instead I'm going to put up a couple reviews of artists I really enjoyed and pepper the blog with some photos. 

I was yet again on the Official Rifflandia Photographer team with more talented people than you can shake a stick at. You can see some of my photos here, here, here, and here

I was also second and primary shooter for my friends over at The Zone for a couple days on the weekend. Bud had to mysteriously disappear and I called up to the big leagues. You can see my photos on their Facebook here and here

Check out ALL of my Rifflandia photos on Flickr. 

Washed Out

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I've never felt as old as I did at Monday night 's Washed Out concert at Club 9one9 here in Victoria, BC. 

As the three of us crowded the front to take some pictures and enjoy the show I realized I was the oldest person on the floor by at least eight years. The sea of first year university students around us made sure to make the impression we certainly weren't "cool." One such group of hipster kids were too drunk to keep their eyes open, but insisted on doing another round of shots. This led to the tallest member of the group leaning over the stage during the second song of Washed Out's set looking like he was going to vomit. I readied my camera in hopes of this guy would puke on the stage, Washed Out's shoes, and all the power bars that powered the equipment. Alas, that never happened much to my dismay. If these kids were going to be a little assholes I was going to capture them at their absolute worst. 

It wasn't until we retired to the back of the crowd with the rest of the old people I truly felt comfortable. I could finally enjoy myself and not worry about taking photos or asshole kids. 

For the most part the crowd seemed to be really into the show, but only seemed to clued into who the band was part way into "Feel It All Around." You know, the mega popular song from Portlandia. 

On the topic of taking photos this was the first time in a long time that I wasn't happy with how any of my photos turned out. I was almost not going to post anything. It's a rare thing for me to not like at least one of my photos. I'm not sure if it was that I was having an off day but more about where I was in the crowd (no photo pit). I couldn't move around a lot. The lighting wasn't great, but I've shot in a lot worse. There might have been a lot of contributing factors, but I think the drunk kids around me really put a damper on my attitude. 

Usually I'm quite happy when I'm shooting. I know I don't look it, but even when I looked pissed I'm having the best time in my life. This time I was just not into it. My personal attitude whether shooting or working on other things has a huge influence on the outcome of my work. 

I the biggest surprise of the night was the opening act Haerts. They played a solid forty-five minute set that was a reminiscent of the synth heavy spacial pop music like Washed Out and M83. I really liked their set. They were too good of an opener for Washed Out, because the seemed to steal the spotlight a little. They've certainly been a topic of discussion amongst my friends who were at the show since that night. I was slightly disappointed that they only had a 7" single there. I was hoping for a full LP, but I'm sure they are working on it. 

Washed Out will continue being one of my favourite contemporary bands for the time being. It's good music, and it's where my musical taste has evolved to. It's just next time they stop by maybe I'll hang out at the back of the crowd with the rest of the old people. 


Otalith Music Festival: Part Three


As I was pouring myself a cup of cold brew before the others crawled out of their tent a friend of mine from high school wandered by. He was apparently staying a couple campsites over, and wondered if we had seen the wolf walk by the night before. I was a little shocked to hear that a wolf had walked within feet of my tent while I was asleep. I was more than a little disappointed that I hadn't been awake to try and get some photos of it. 

When the others woke up we headed on a mission to Tofino for breakfast and memory cards. I'd forgotten two of my high-speed cards at home, and wasn't about to shoot a whole day on slow cards. It proved to be a bit of an ordeal to find some, but after breakfast I found some overpriced memory cards in a drug store. 

We headed back to Ucluelet in hopes of not missing too much of the festival, but decided to stop at Incinerator Rock on Long Beach for a while. It was beautiful. The sun had fought it's way through the clouds to heat up the ground creating a fine mist and fog that drifted over the beach. I looked west towards Japan and we were off to the festival. 

It wasn't too long ago a friend introduced me to Matt Lockhart. I knew his band Treelines, but they had since broken up. Matt had started a new band that he described as "dad rock." Freedom Pony, is more of a mix of indie rock and and dad rock. The band is fun to watch with the addition of catchy hooks and guitar riffs. They'll certainly be on my must see list for Rifflandia this year, and highly recommended to my friends at VIC Fest next year. 

Before I knew it Vancouver based band, Portage & Main had taken the stage. With a name based on an intersection in Winnipeg and at least one big beard I had to like these guys. They were solid. They reminded me a lot of my friends in Hawk & Steel (not an intersection anywhere). I stuck around in the crowd after my three songs to catch the rest of their set and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I might have eaten another burrito by this point, but I'm not sure. 

I caught a couple songs from one of the most talked about bands of the entire festival, The River & The Road. A Victorian and a travelling Australian that met in Vancouver only to form a band. They were good, but not exactly in my taste in music. From what I heard they were tight and very good musicians, but I'm over the banjo in modern indie rock these days. Loved it for a while, but burned out. Again, The River & The Road were good, but just not for me. 

I snuck back to the campground during the latter half of The River & The Road's set to get changed into some shorts. The sun had come out, and I was starting to get a little too warm in my jeans and rain jacket. 

By the time I got back to the festival grounds Brasstronaut was just getting onto stage. I know they are one of Michelle's favourite bands I think was a major part of her coming up to the festival. I've seen and shot Brasstronaut a handful of times over the years, and somehow I always end up taking the same picture of the leadsinger, Edo VanBreeman. From the left side. It seems like he always positions his keyboard that way so it is somewhat limiting getting a shot of him without a mic in his face. Plus the band has a wicked Space Clarinet. It's gold. 

More photos from the Otalith Music Festival on my flickr.

Otalith Music Festival: Part Two

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When we finally made it across the street to the festival I met up with Jessie, one of the festival organizers for a run down of the festival and what I could and couldn't shoot. She was super friendly and awesome. It's always good to see festivals being put on by generous people that are just as excited for the whole event as the rest of the crowd. Before she was whisked away a call on her walkie she set me up with my photographer pass, and I pretty much didn't see her the rest of the festival. 

Quickly I jumped into action to shoot a band from my neck of the woods on the Saanich Peninsula, The Archers. I can't get over how much they've grown as a band over the last few years since I first saw them play a free show in Sidney. I'd put some serious money on The Archers being a big contender in next year's Peak Performance Project. Top 5 if not Top 3.

When I finished shooting The Archers I headed back to the Tacofino truck to get myself a veggie burrito. In the time I was gone shooting The Archers I think Ryley had two fish tacos and was eyeing up a third. While we ate our late lunch/dinner we wandered over to the beer garden to watch the rest of The Archers set, and bullshit over a drink. 

Before I knew it I was back in the photo pit with one of the two staff photographers for Otalith getting ready to shoot one of my favourite local bands, Northcote. I think in the last year I've had a chance to see Matt Goud perform three times, and every time is a treat. His smokey voice mixed with working class style lyrics gives off the Bruce Springsteen vibe. Mix in a solid, tight band, a harmonic, and you have Northcote.
Matt is one of the nicest people in the Victoria music scene always smiling, coming over to say hi, and greeting people like they are old friends. It must be the prairie sensibility thing that I hear some transplants seem to have. I highly recommend picking up his latest self titled record, Northcote.

The last two times I've seen Kathryn Calder I've wondered when Luke Kozlowki would jump on stage to play drums for a full on Immaculate Machine reunion. I say this because recently Brooke Gallupe has seems to be a full time member of the band, and I could be more excited. Immaculate Machine was one of the bands that was big in the local scene when I first started going to bars and shows years ago. They've long since been a favourite and something Shayne and I wax nostalgia over. 

After leaving the pit Kathryn Calder played her new song "New Millennium" which really gets me excited for the prospect of a new album on the horizon. Heck, I'd settle for a 7" single these days. Kathryn Calder is a super talent lady and I look forward to new releases from her in the future. 

At this point I'd realized that all the bands I'd seen today were Victoria bands, and would pretty much make up my perfect line-up for a VIC Fest. It says a lot when you are willing to travel to see your favourite local bands and not even realize it. Victoria has some serious talent, I'm glad we are sharing it with the rest of the world. 

When Yukon Blonde came on the festival was ready to party, and I can't blame them. The boys in Yukon Blonde always seem to know how to get the crowd moving. I turned around in the photo pit, and wondered where all these people had come from. I didn't care I was enjoying the band as much as they were. 

I snuck to the side of the crowd to join my friends for the rest of the show before retiring back to the campsite for beers and attempts to dry our tents. Tomorrow was going to be an even more amazing day. 

More photos of the entire Otalith Music Festival are on Flickr.