There seems to be no better combination than a brewery and a music festival these days. Great tunes and cold brews pair together like coffee and donuts (that was originally going to be cigarettes, but who smokes anymore?).

Recently added to this growing fad of awesome which is the brewery-hosted music festivals is Longwoodstock. Kicking off its inaugural run this year at Nanaimo’s Longwood Brewery with a stacked bill of local acts, good food, and even better beer. The brewery even put together an entirely new delicious festival-exclusive beer made with four types of hot peppers called “Throat Punch.” They also hooked some cold brew up to their nitro taps for different take on cold coffee.

While the festival never truly filled all the way up, it was clear that the folks who had made it to Longwoodstock were in it for the long haul, dancing the whole day through from battle-of-the-band winners Hazen Sage to headliner Vince Vaccaro. It’s these high spirits and genuine gratitude for interesting events like this that keep the promoters going.

Former Zone Band of the Month, Band of Rascals kept the crowd on their toes with high flying antics that included the a guitar player jumping into the crowd and playing at the back of the venue. Oh, and a surprise appearance by Jesse Roper who occasionally shreds with the band from time to time.

The day also featured a little more of Peak Performance finalist JP Maurice than we are used to here on the island. His entire band stocked up on leggings from one of the booths in the festival grounds and donned them for their entire set. leaving very little to the imagination.

One of the great and unplanned things which occurred during Longwoodstock was that most bands played a cover. Whether it was Lovecoast’s sultry take on a Jackson 5 classic, Carmanah’s cover of “Gold Dust Woman,” or Dope Soda’s mash-up of about a dozen songs including themes from Zelda, Jurassic Park, and Starfox, among others. The night also closed out with a cover, but more on that later.

It wasn’t until Dope Soda that the crowd embraced the front of the stage and brought their dancing closer. It wasn’t long before Dave Dirt was almost in the crowd with his trombone while the rest of the band literally had the portable stage bouncing up and down.

Longwoodstock closed out with a fantastic set by Victoria’s Vince Vaccaro. We’ve seen Vince a lot over the past few years, but there was something different about his set that night. He and his band played very few older songs and focused on his latest record March of the Sun. Sonically, the first half of his set felt retrospective, but towards the end the direction moved toward a clear and bright future.

Just based on the energy the band put forth, it’s surprising to not hear Vince Vaccaro’s song “On the Inside” on the radio multiple times a day. They ended the night a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”  which included Sam Weber on vocals for a verse. Watching Vince play off Sam Weber and Shaun Huberts was a treat. He’s got a really solid band playing with him these days.

Having seen Vince Vaccaro play lots of shows, this was one of his best sets ever in our books. Through and through, it was spectacular to watch, and we can’t wait for his big show October 2nd, 2015 at Sugar Nightclub.

Escaping Victoria for a few hours to check out Longwoodstock at the Longwood Brewery in Nanaimo was well worth the trek. It’s a small and intimate festival put together by musicians and fans of local music. We can’t wait to get back up there next year for round two.

Check out all of our Longwoodstock photos on the YYJ Rocktographers SmugMug.