The problem with comedy at sasquatch is that the popular comedians have crowds that make the set unwatchable. Nick Offerman and Trailer Park Boys were both pointless. The smaller ones (Tig Notaro being my favourite) are usually pretty good though.
It's a shame they don't have the room on the grounds to have a dedicated comedy tent away from all the music stages (like Pemberton).
That one is damn good and I even mentioned it to someone today that it was the only other fest that really seemed to be my kind of thing this year. Prima is still a little better for my tastes, but you can't really compare the two. I was not aware that was only half the line up though... could turn out to be more awesome.
Both weekends of Coachella came to around $1600 Canadian I believe, and back then our dollar was higher, so around $1450 US.
That included tickets to both weekends, flights out of Bellingham, my share of a campervan rental, my share of a couple nights of a cheap hotel room and the other things you need to buy for a festival. Tickets themselves are around $900 for a pair with camping and fees. Everything else really depends on how you do it (fly vs drive, camp vs hotel...).
It's an awesome experience and if festivals are your thing it's definitely a must see, just depends if the lineup this year is the one you decide to pull the trigger on.
Why not? He booked Mumsons. They're basically the same thing. Hugely popular band with minimal material that get's shit tons of radio play yet can still fit under the terribly vague umbrella of 'indie'.
I was really bored when I was up north for work a few weeks ago. The internet was basically non-existent and it was -20 every night so going outside wasn't really an option. To keep my sanity I did a little write up on all the festivals I went to this year. I figured I mid as well post it here in hopes of stirring up some discussion to bring this place back from the dead.
Battle of the Festivals 2014
For those that don’t know, I went to 8 multi-day music festivals this year. I might have a serious problem. I thought I’d rank them all and do a summary because I’m sure everyone cares about what I think. Ranked from 1-7 because I went to both Coachella weekends and splitting them up seems stupid.
I ranked them all based on my overall experience at them. This is heavily influenced by who I was with, how I was feeling, and my expectations going into it. Don’t like it? Tough titties.
In chronological order….
This was my second (and I guess third) Coachella. It is a super well done festival and there isn’t much to complain about beyond the heat and the somewhat obnoxious crowds. The art is fantastic, organization is generally top notch (though the lines getting into camping and sometimes into the festival are a bit excessive) and the production on the stages is pretty great.
There’s lots to do other than see shows, even though there is basically always a show I wanted to see. Food options are pretty great. Sound and production on stages are generally pretty awesome. Despite having 90,000 people it never felt that crowded except during Outkast and that one time I went in the Sahara for Fatboy Slim Lineup is usually top notch. Everything is pretty organized.
Cons: Crowds are less friendly than some other festivals. I still managed to make friends when I was alone in the sandstorm though, so it’s not a huge deal. The heat got to me a couple times and I had to hide in shade and miss a few shows I wanted to see. The line into camping was a bit excessive weekend 1, weekend 2 was a breeze.
Overall I’d say Coachella is a must do for festival lovers, even though it does break the bank more than most other festivals. I go almost entirely for the lineup but the festival as a whole is really quite fantastic.
Highlights: Pet Shop Boys, Motorhead, Pixies, Mogwai, Darkside, Woodkid, Caravan Palace, Beck, Arcade Fire, Queens of the Stoneage, Neutral Milk Hotel
Yeah, Sasquatch has fallen from my graces a little bit. I’ve been to 6 Sasquatches. I have a fucking blast every single time, but it’s become a little… predictable I guess? Every year more festivals spring up, and the ones that have been around for a while strive to improve. Sasquatch is always just Sasquatch. While I still love it, it just doesn’t get me as excited as it used to.
View. I don’t have to fly to get there. Weather is usually pleasant. People are pretty great. Lots of space in camping.
Food sucks. Sound is pretty lacking at times. Production is lacking save for artists that bring their own setups. Never any new surprises. They suck at letting people know when stages have switched times. The cancellation of weekend 2 really reminded me that they are all about the money.
It’s still a great festival and has played a big part in my current addiction, but it’s like when you eat at the same restaurant over and over; even though you love it, it’s tough to get excited about it.
Highlights: Outkast, Queens of the Stoneage, The National, MIA, Foals, Violent Femmes, Mogwai, Shakey Graves
#2 Tall Tree
Tall Tree is a tiny music festival on Vancouver Island. The lineup consists mostly of local acts with one or two bigger draws, and even these would be second or third line at best on most other festivals. It’s basically off a logging road on the side of a mountain. Cell phones don’t work here. It rains A LOT here. Why is it #2? Well…
I paid $100 for a 3 day pass and camping. It is a 19+ festival so there are no annoying kids running around (not all kids are annoying, but a lot of them are). The average age is probably over 25. People are the fucking best. We showed up trying to find our friends who had come before us and set up our tents. It was pouring rain, it was dark, it was cold. Our friends had let the helium balloon that was to be our site marker escape. Every time we wandered into someone’s camp to ask if they had seen said balloon, we were told no, but sit down, have a beer (or other things), get dry for a bit. There’s a dance tent that goes till about 5am. Everyday has a theme, and lots of people partake. People are actually responsible and respectful, but with that said people probably partied harder than any festival I went to this year. Cell phones don’t work there (for me that’s a pro). Craft beers are $5 by the mainstage, and you can just bring your own beers to every other stage.
It’s a bit of an organizational shit show. The lineup is nothing to brag about. It rains, and it gets muddy, but it didn’t really bother me.
There are a lot of people out there that would probably hate this festival. You are going to get dirty. You will probably be cold every now and then. There will be large chunks of time where you haven’t heard of any of the artists playing. If you just embrace all that you could end up having an amazing time though. My expectations were pretty low based on the lineup and just what I was expecting, but I ended up having a fucking amazing time.
Highlights: Dan Mangan, longwalkshortdock, The Dudes, The Matinee, Isobel Trigger
Pemberton 2008 was my first music festival ever. It started this whole problem I have. The 2014 version had absolutely nothing to do with the 2008 version other than the name and location. I had super low expectations before the lineup came out. I wasn’t even going to go. They put off the lineup announcement for months. I was sure it was doomed from the get go. Then the lineup came out. It was pretty great. A bunch of my friends were going, how could I not? I fully expected organization just as bad if not worse than the first Pemberton. While it was sketchy at times, they really pulled it off pretty well considering it was their first time. However, they pulled off my favourite festival of the year, possibly ever. It was just everything I want from a festival. People were great, staff were great, shows were great (artists in general seems to be a lot more laid back and having more fun that I usually see), everything was just great. They really had two options when they realized that tickets just weren’t going to sell as much as they wanted. A) Scale everything back and try not to lose a shit ton of money. B) Go balls to the wall and make it a great time for everyone there in hopes that you can make up the losses in future festivals. They went with B and it impressed the hell out of me. I still get a stupid fucking smile on my face every time I think about it.
Lineup was right up my alley Got my tickets for $300 including camping. Never waited in line more than 30 seconds to get into the fest. No line to park. People were fantastic. Not Tall Tree fantastic, but overall very chill and friendly. Crowds were very manageable at almost every show. (partially due to a good layout and partially due to low ticket sales) Sound was fantastic and the production was quite good. There were lots of things to do like waterslides and ziplines and ball pits when you weren’t seeing shows. The weather was great. Beautiful location. Nice and close to Vancouver. Camp is right beside the festival, making coming and going 5 times a day a breeze. The comedy was the most well done I’ve ever seen at a music festival. The tent was well away from any stage and never felt crowded even for Bob Saget and Norm McDonald. Most acts got full sets (60-90 minutes for non headliners).
You had to walk your stuff into the campground. It was roughly a 15-20 minute walk, but carrying heavy things in the sun made it take more than an hour. It was torture. They seemed to realize this and offered some golf cart/ATV shuttles to get stuff back to cars on Monday, and said they are looking into improving it for next year. Food was good but a bit pricey. Beer selection wasn’t great, but I never go into beer gardens at festivals anyway.
That’s about it. I was floored how well it went. The problem is that there is no way it can continue like this. They must have lost a boatload of money. Either the lineup is going to suffer or they are going to need to sell a lot more tickets. That or just cut their losses like Pemberton 2008 did. They seem to be in it for the long haul though, so I have faith. If they can swing another good lineup next year then this thing has a chance. Sure they might lose some money again, and maybe even the next year, but lots of fests start out like this. If it can grow slowly I have high hopes for this festival.
Highlights: Dan Deacon, Violent Femmes, St Vincent, Modest Mouse, Nine Inch Nails, Norm McDonald, Sloan, Rich Aucoin, Grimes, Girl Talk, Flaming Lips, Outkast, Big Gigantic, Blondie
From the best to the worst. I used to love Squamish. It was a smaller festival an hour from my house and tickets and camping cost in the range of $200. The lineups were never amazing but worth the cost of admission. People were generally there to have a good time and it was a nice relaxed vide. All of that went to shit this year with the booking of Eminem and Bruno Mars as headliners. Tickets were $350 and then camping was an additional $400 per car, and you had to shuttle to the fest every day. On site VIP camping was available for a whopping $1000/car of 4, which we ended up doing.
Very small crowds for certain acts. Thievery Corporation, chune-Yards, Likke Li and CHVRCHES all had very manageable crowds, probably because they don’t have radio hits (in Vancouver anyway). Despite being insanely expensive the VIP camping was great. Private entrance. Charging stations. Free ice every morning. Private little club area with shaded couches during the day and a DJ at night. Showers and flushing toilets with no lines. Weather was good.
The price was insane. The incoherent lineup drew many people there to just see one or two acts, leaving them to get wasted for the rest of the festival. I met over a dozen people who had come from much further than I had and were basically there to see Eminem and get fucked up. Many had never been to a festival before. There wasn’t much else to do when not seeing shows. Lines to beer gardens were insane. (not really a problem for me, I don’t go there) The lineup sucked. The crowds were generally a bunch of terrible people. Aggressive bros. Teeny boppers YOLOing all over the place. Very few people seemed to give a shit about anyone else. The layout was bad. 15-20ish minute walk between the two biggest stages. There was a mandatory cashless wristband system There was one place that took cash and it just sold non-alcoholic drinks and candy and such. I didn’t even bother trying. My friend had cash on hers. It had some issues in the beginning but seemed to work ok later. From what I understand getting money refunded off the wristbands was a headache, and there were fees for loading it and getting money back at the end.
I had really low expectations for this fest, but I went because I made promises before the lineup came out. It still managed to be worse than those expectations. If not for camping with a bunch of my great friends, and the surprising awesomeness of the VIP camping, I might go as far as to say I didn’t have a good time. However it was still a music festival, and I still had a pretty good time. Still, with the vast festival options available, I won’t be back to this one, even though it’s just over an hour drive from my house.
Rifflandia is a city festival in Victoria. The lineup was kinda shite this year but I had more Victoria friends than ever before and tickets were like $125 so I figured why not. There’s a with two alternating stages that goes till around 9, then there are about 15 smaller bars and clubs that have shows that go until around 1am.
Good mix of festival and regular concert feel. No beer garden (you can bring beers anywhere). Food was pretty good. Lines were generally quite mild. People were pretty cool. Craft beer was $6.
The alternating park stages meant if you didn’t want to see the only show going on there was basically nothing to do. A few of the more popular night stages reached capacity quite quickly. The distance between some of the night venues was a 20-30 minute walk, meaning you had to pretty much pick a venue for the night and stick with it. Lineup was pretty thin. There was no camping, which is half the fun of music festivals.
Overall it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good either. If I lived in Victoria I’d probably still go every year, and with friends couches to sleep on I might still go again, but if I had to get a hotel I wouldn’t be coming back. Certainly more of a festival for the locals than one that is worth coming to from any real distance.
#4 Life is Beautiful.
I got a Christmas gift of racing a super car around a track, the only catch was it was in Vegas. I was waiting for an excuse to go, and it had to be this year, so I settled on Life is Beautiful. I conned a bunch of my festival junkie friends into going, even though half of the reason for my trip was to do the race thing.
Got my ticket for $200. Food was excellent. Entry was a breeze each day. Lots of space. This really isn’t specific to this festival, but given the location I expected bottlenecks and headaches everywhere. It was fine. Lots of open areas to just hang out, ample space at the stages, pretty well done considering. Lineup was really good and contained a lot of acts I hadn’t seen at any of the other festivals this year. Most people were friendly, less douchbags than I expected. It was an excuse to go to Vegas, which I had never done. Good amount of things to do when not seeing shows. Great art and little fun things to kill 5 minutes on the way from point A to point B. Once the festival is over you can just wander down Freemont Street and do all the Vegas things you want before heading back to the hotel. Weather was really nice.
Almost the entire area is pavement (which I expected). You really forget how different pavement and grass are until you walk on each of them for 10 hours a day. I was exhausted at the end of each day. The two biggest stages were pretty far apart, which made for lots of walking on pavement. No camping, but having a shower and a bed very night was great. The aforementioned walking on pavement all day left me with little energy anyway, so it was good to be able to get some quiet air-conditioned sleep every night. Had to take a cab to and from the venue each day (we didn’t bother with the shuttle since our hotel was about a 20 minute walk off the strip anyway) but it was really easy to get cabs after the festival.
Overall I had a great time and don’t have many complaints, but I don’t think I’ll be returning as Vegas isn’t really my favourite place and I’d probably spend that money on a new experience over the same one I had at this fest. Highly recommended if you’ve never been to Vegas or have and really like it.
So, there you have it. All of this is to be taken with a grain of salt because not everyone likes the same things. I had friends who attended Pemberton and Squamish and said Squamish was better, so to each their own.
Again none of this is meant to be objective in any way. This is purely based on my experiences. Is Life is Beautiful really a better experience than Sasquatch? Probably not. Is Tall Tree a better run festival than Coachella? Hell no. I also held the more expensive ones to a higher standard, which probably skewed the results a little.
I’ve already got my tickets for Pemberton and Coachella next year, and there is little doubt in my mind that I will be doing Tall Tree again. I’m also doing Primavera Sound in Porto next year, so we’ll see how that works out. I told myself I couldn’t do 8 festivals again next year but it’s looking like I might come close the way things are shaping up.
I think they are more talking about spreading out with more cars. I know post 2011 we tried to get as many people as we could in each vehicle since we had to pay for them, but recently we cared less about that since the only thing you had to pay for was gas.
We still packed in pretty tight but I bet people from closer cared even less as an extra $40 in fuel means a more comfortable ride and twice as much space.