Arguably the biggest music festival on Vancouver Island, Rock The Shores returned for its fourth installment on the lower fields of Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre in Victoria, BC.
Headliners like The Black Keys and the ever perennial Jane’s Addiction helped pack the music festival with close to 10,000 people daily. Both days of the festival were jam-packed with huge acts, the likes we’ve never seen before at Rock The Shores. Some acts like TV on the Radio, Scott Helman, PPL MVR, and the headliners made their Victoria debut, while others, such as The Sheepdogs, 54•40, Jesse Roper, and Current Swell were embraced with sing-alongs and cheers of their return to Rock The Shores for another year.
Saturday, July 18th
Just waiting in line to get into the festival, the energy was palpable. It didn’t matter how you got there — from the crazies who took part in Run the Shores (a 15km run from downtown to the side), to those who biked, walked, carpooled, or took the bus — everyone (the audience, crew, security, vendors, volunteers, and rocktographers) was ready to unite for one purpose: to ROCK THE SHORES.
Vancouver’s Willa opened up Rock the Shores with her first performance at a major festival. Opening with her single, “Stay the Night,” the humbly-sized crowd grew steadily during her set, while more and more people discovered her dark-yet-happy sound.
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Wow-ee, were the younger ladies swooning (don’t worry older ladies; there’s something for you on Sunday *cough*Father John Misty*cough*). Scott Helman proved he wasn’t just eye candy for the ladies by cranking out his massive hit Bungalo with the passion and bravado of a seasoned artist. Also, he was just a really nice guy and even posed for a portrait for us.
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Vancouver’s Colleen Rennison leads a blues-rock group which gets its name from “Rennison” spelled backwards: No Sinner. She’s a crazy powerful performer, singing like she’s got blues legends inside her fighting to get out.
After a string of performances at the 2014 SXSW festival, followed by constant touring through everywhere from Nashville to Ireland, No Sinner showed no signs of slowing down, especially belting out their hits “Love is Madness” and “Boo Hoo Hoo.”
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Songs like “Heavy” and “Mama” were crowd pleasers with a just-right blend of power chords and blues. Did you miss them? Do you regret it? Well don’t worry, because they’ll be back in Victoria on October 24.
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Vancouver’s 54•40 returned to Rock The Shores for a third time in as many years. As photographers, we found it a little worrisome for the repeat, but there’s a reason they keep coming back. Plain and simple: they rock!
There is something spectacular about shooting a classic Canadian rock band while the crowd behind you sings the words to all their songs louder than the band itself. It’s the moments like this that which musicians (and rocktographers) live for.
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Wow, did these guys BRING IT. Not that we’d expect anything less from our local favourites, but they seriously brought it to another level. It can sometimes be easy to get a little jaded about the amount of talent we have in Victoria, but Current Swell made sure we remembered why they deserve to be on a world stage.
Playing hits like “Red Shag Carpet” (which, apparently, they haven’t performed for six years) set the crowd on fire, and not from the heat!
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The Sheepdogs‘ return to the Rock the Shores stage (they last performed in 2012) was loud and enthusiastic, with much hair a-flyin’ and many hands a-clappin’.
And, as an added bonus for any zoom-lensed rocktographers in the photo pit, lead singer Ewan Currie gave us all a treat with his reflective sunglasses.
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Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Alex Ebert brilliantly led this performance with many visits into the crowd.
Their big hit, “Home,” is a duet between Alex and his girlfriend Jade Castrinos. Well, up until last year, when her relationship with the band dissolved after her relationship with Alex did.
A key component of the song is a conversation between the two, about the moment he fell in love with her. But you can’t really perform that without the “her,” now can ya?
To address this portion of the song live, the band keeps the music going, while Alex asked someone from the audience for a really good story.
The mic was passed to a gent who came up from the states for the festival, but almost didn’t make it because he didn’t have his passport — he had his mom’s. However, his mom sent the customs agents a photo of his passport, and he made it into Canada, into Rock the Shores, and into the Edward Sharpe show.
As the chorus of the song built up again, a mass singalong began, culminating in this sweet moment between Alex and this lady, Rebecka.
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The Black Keys
Bringing the calibre of Victoria shows up a notch, Akron Ohio’s The Black Keys capped off Saturday night with a powerful, fervent performance including hits like “Lonely Boy” and “Fever.”
The energy and volume from The Black Keys brought the entire field to its feet, and was the perfect finalé to day one, leaving everyone stoked for day two.
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Sunday, July 19th
With the sweltering heat from day one on everybody’s minds, more water stations and shady areas of refuge were added for day two, which helped keep more festivalgoers comfortable as the path to Jane’s Addiction was laid out through the day.
Bryan Capistrano, music director for The Zone, DJ’ed in between every artist on both days of the festival. As DJ Boitano, he kept the mood up during stage changes, spinning modern rock remixes for the masses.
Zerbin kicked off the second day of Rock The Shores with a bang. Performing in front of the huge crowd seemed to fill the Jason Zerbin and Peter Mol with more energy than usual. It’s great to see the band growing and becoming more successful. Despite only playing six songs, Zerbin set the tone for an exciting day of live music at the festival.
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The golden star of Metchosin, BC once again brought all the power, sweat, and passion a human body can deliver to Rock the Shores.
And thankfully, this time around, he eschewed the woolen poncho he wore last time for the more rock-appropriate (and temperature-appropriate) jean vest.
After bringing Jesse on, The Zone’s Dylan Willows stayed around for a while to play cowbell and contribute “HUH” grunts to the opening number. And, from there, things just kept on rocking.
Following his set, Jesse was spotted in a majestic coonskin hat, and kindly gave us his best growl wearing it.
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Much like Jesse Roper, Kim Churchill is probably one of the nicest and most genuine musicians you’ll ever meet. Kim’s energetic performances, voice, and musical talents are why he’s certainly he’s a crowd favourite here in Victoria.
Those who see his sitting during his shows as a hindrance don’t realize all the music he’s actually playing. Kim Churchill is a one-man band with a kick drum, wind chimes, a harmonica, a guitar, and a few more hidden from sight.
Plus, we heard the word “dreamy” a heck of a lot after his set.
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BTR WCH YR STP (“better watch your step”), lest you could anger this trio of vowel-hating hard rock yetis: K-PO (black fur), Q (brown fur), and SNWBLL (white fur).
These mystery-shrouded yeti were definitely the surprise of the festival, with many people not knowing how to react once they lumbered on stage after their pre-show growls (vocal warmup?) were heard through the speakers.
But, these sasquatches (sasquii?) know how to bring the vocoder-processed rock in between terrifying animal stares and teeth-baring growls. After rockers like “Day of the Dead” and “Let’s Take This Outside,” followed by their ballad-of-sorts, “Annie,” PPL MVR ended their set with their lead single, “People Mover” by which time the crowd was firmly under their spell. Don’t forget to check out our interview with PPL MVR here.
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We’d heard a few people say that Bleachers may not be that great live before they took the stage at Rock the Shores. All we can say is, there is NO WAY they were thinking of the same Bleachers. Lead singer Jack Antanoff (of Fun. fame) took the stage with one of the biggest smiles to grace the Rock the Shores stage.
“This is the most beautiful place we’ve ever been, thank you!” he announced, and with that Bleachers launched into one of the most infectious sets of the day. Antanoff’s energy can’t be overlooked. Even in the 30+ degree heat, he ran around the stage and put an amazing amount of passion into his performance. Like a mirror, the crowd couldn’t help but reflect back the infectious energy, swelling to hits like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster.”
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Father John Misty
Father John MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMisty.
Er, I mean . . .
J Tillman, better known as his moniker Father John Misty, brought his unique swagger to Rock the Shores. Although his onstage persona and hip swaggering may be disturbing to some, the audience couldn’t help but be captivated as he began to belt out, “I Love You Honeybear.”
Father John Misty, raised in an evangelical Christian home, once flirted with the idea of becoming a real pastor – mostly for the performance aspect of the job. Luckily, he switched to music and where he pairs his intellectual lyrics with raw sexuality in his psychedelic love songs.
At one point, Tillman exclaimed, “I need one of those fucking whales” which the audience, caught in his mystique, was quick to oblige. He then sat down and performed his next ballad while stroking the inflatable lovingly. Father John Misty was a joy to watch, combining clever humour, emotional lyricism, and true passion to the Rock the Shores stage.
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TV On The Radio
Sunday was a day of surprises for musical acts, but hands down, the tightest-sounding band of the entire festival was TV on the Radio. For a long time, a lot of people had thought the band had broken up after the passing of their bass player, Gerard Smith. It turns out that the band just wanted to make a record that would do the former member justice.
Their set built slowly, but included all their big singles like “Wolf Like Me,” “Happy Idiot,” and “Trouble.” The band’s music is full of subtle intricacies that intrigued us to see how they would transition live. Not a thing was missed. Heck, there was even a wind chime on one of the guitarists’ guitar.
If you have the chance to see them live, we’d highly recommend it. You’ll leave a fan. That’s what happens when you see musicians perform who care about their craft and band legacy.
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Closing out the fourth Rock The Shores was the legendary Jane’s Addiction. As soon as Perry Farrell walked out on stage, the crowd erupted. A smile crossed his face and he silently raised his glass to his audience knowingly. This was his crowd for the next hour. It wasn’t long into the set before Dave Navarro lost his shirt and posed for all the photographers in the pit.
During the band’s encore they played their biggest hit, “Been Caught Stealin’.” However, the song itself was overshadowed by the women flying above the stage without harnesses. That’s right. No harnesses. Only hooks through their skin, being dangled by ropes.
Jane’s Addiction was an amazing way to close out the biggest and best edition of Rock The Shores to date. It gives us hope for and even bigger and better version of the festival next year.
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