Maybe this is more organized than I thought. The camping manager just called me to introduce himself, ask if I had any questions and check what time I would be showing up so they could make sure they had enough staff for checking everyone in.
I'm still sorta expecting a clusterfuck, as with all camping music festivals I have been to, but they may prove me wrong.
I got the same phone call last night. They do sound fairly organized. Even dealing with not getting my tickets mailed was easy. I called today, and was on the phone less than 2 minutes and had the tickets in my email inbox.
Wow. That was fucking amazing. As fun as Sasquatch, but shorter so it doesnt quite measure up, but its close.
Despite thinking it would be a clusterfuck that was easily the most organized festival I have ever been to. Campground connected to the festival ground (with in and outs), silent disco, slip and slides... Just fantastic.
I might do a bit of a review later when I gather my thoughts a bit and look through the pictures.
I tried to write a short review of this festival but it ended up turning onto a Gunther style Coachella review with little side stories and whatnot. If I ever finish that I might post it here if anyone cares. So, I will do my best here to objectivly review the festival only.
Beautiful. In a huge field surrounded by mountains and wilderness. Spread out enough so you couldnt hear the oposite stage, but the entire fest was maybe a 5 minute walk across.
It was shaped sort of like an oblong 'T', with the mainstage at 1 tip, the second stage at the other and the food/vendors/silent disco at the final point.
The mainstage was probably slightly bigger than the Bigfoot stage at Sasquatch and the second stage was somewhere between the size of the Bigfoot and the Yeti.
The mainstage had a beer garden (this is Canada, can't walk around with beer unless you snuck it in) to the right which had a great view and tables and chairs for sitting. The second stage had horseshoe shaped bleachers around the outside that served as the beer garden.
The sound on both stages, particularily the second stage was great. There was one minor issue with the acoustic set Emily and James of Metric did, which caused them to be about 15 minutes late, but other than that everything went smoothly.
The lights were pretty standard on the mainstage and very well done on the second stage. There were cages on either side for girls covered in glowy things to dance in during the EDM shows, which was a nice touch.
Crowd during Weezer
Major Lazer on the second stage
I wont talk about the actual performances since I will cover it in my story style review, and if anyone is basing their decision to come next year on this, it wont matter because the lineup will be different anyway.
I still cant get over how well organized this thing was. Check in to camp, getting wristbands, entry to the festival; never waited in line more than a minute. Everything ran smoothly and I never really had any questions. Part of this could be that they were on the ball with answering questions by email, facebook and their website every day, even if that question had been asked a dozen times before.
They even had a free bike lock up for anyone biking in from town (the fest was maybe a 5 minute bike ride from the town of Squamish), which I thought was a nice touch. They also had recycling boxes everywhere, again, nice touch.
The silent disco was pretty cool as well. I had heard the idea before but never experienced it. Basically they had hundreds of sets of wireless headphones and you go into an area and dance in silence while the DJ plays guilty pleasure songs. Its such a weird experience dancing with all of these people, then taking off the headphones and realizing how dumb we all look when you cant hear the music.
It probably isnt fair to compare this to bigger festivals like sasquatch since they only had 9000 the first day and 10000 the second day, but it was still pretty impressive. Time will tell if they can keep this up as attendance rises.
The camping was tiny. They sold a very limited amount of onsite camping and it sold out quick, so I assumed it would be small. It was actually smaller than I expected, just the size of a small football field.
You park in the lot, walk your stuff 2 minutes in and they show you your basic spot and tell you the rules. Technically there was no drinking allowed, but they knew that wouldnt be followed, so they just asked that we put our beers in cups. They also had a huge storage bin (almost like a freight car) for putting coolers in as bears are quite common in the area. Because of this the entire camp area was fenced off.
The camp manager was named Geoff and he did a bang up job. He would wander the site sometimes just talking to people, making sure no one had any problems and picking up the odd piece of garbage.
The small size had me nervous that they might actually enforce a curfue, but we were all up drinking into the wee hours of the morning every night with the neighbours and never got any complaints. A good chunk of the people there had been to Sasquatch so they knew what to expect.
The campground had its own private entrance to the festival which made it way too convinent to go back for a beer or 4 between shows. It was quite nice to be able to go back for a snack and a drink even if you only had 20 minutes until your next show.
At the end when everyone packed up we were amoung the last few dozen tents and the place was surprisingly clean. A few Canadian cigarette butts lying around, but all in all, pretty good.
Campground: This doesnt show it all, but it gives a decent idea of the size of it. That orange thing is a slip and slide a new friend brought, which the staff thought was awesome.
I really cant think of many ways for them to improve on this. They have a lease on the land until 2016, and if they keep going this way it will just gain in popularity every year. I was nervous about the small camping and wished it was bigger in the beginning, but at the end of it I really liked knowing half of the people in there. A drunk guy told me that if the camping goes well they are going to make it 10x bigger next year. I have no idea if this is true, but if it is it will help sales. The only thing really stopping this from selling out is the size of the town. Every single hotel and campground in a 20km radius was booked for the weekend.
The only complaints I can think of are that the honey buckets in the campground could have used a little more attention and they should fire the security guard who wouldnt let me bring in my DSLR camera (even though techically it said in the rules they werent allowed).
I highly recommend this fest to anyone who lives in Vancouver. I spent probably 1/4 the money I spent on Sasquatch for an almost comparable fest that was 1/2 as many days. If you are coming from the Kelowna area or even Washington I would say it is probably worth the trip.
The only reason I haven't given Live@Squamish much consideration is because a good portion of the bands that play there play here shortly after. It's hard to justify a 12hr drive each way to see bands that are coming here anyway.
Great write up Davers! I'd wanted to put up a little review but too much real life got in the way and, quite frankly, I don't think what I'd say would be much different from yours.
Simply put: it was one the best organized fests I've been too.
I had a ton of fun! The camping was small (and it'll be great if it's bigger next year, but I'd be good if it stays relatively small) which just made it even more fun once everyone was partying together. The staff were great too, and I might've even had more fun partying with them in their campground at times. I know my buddies established a bit of a love/hate relationship with the security guys but even they were decent and chill.
On the music side, I was highly impressed with the sound, especially on the smaller stage. My friends and I loved the extra entertainment they had during the electronic acts with the burlesque girls, fire dancers, hula-hooping. The silent disco was fun to try and I definitely wanna spend more time there next year.
When it was all over, the only complaint I could think of was they needed a few more honey buckets and give them a little more attention.
Right now, with Coachella and a potential family trip to Europe next year, I'm not sure if I'll be able to do next year's Sasquatch. But I know I could easily tide myself over with Live@Squamish.