Photos: Tyson Elder

First and foremost, ANIÁN is a surf shop. It’s this little off-the-grid (literally) store and greenspace in an otherwise industrial area of town. Sometimes it gets transformed into a spectacularly intimate little venue. With faerie lights hanging above the crowd, gardens growing all sorts of veggies, and solar panels powering it all, ANIÁN is quite the unique venue.

We arrived in the typical Victoria fashion about a half hour into the first band’s set. We wanted to see them, but the commute the commute downtown after the commute home from work limits getting anywhere on time. It seems like the opening act, an all female alternative country band, had a bit of an identity crisis. Sometimes calling themselves The Whisky Sisters, but more often than not calling themselves, The Half Moon Shine. This confusion continued later in the evening when Peter from Hawk & Steel called them both at some point.

It’s rare to hear the kind of vocal harmonies The Half Moon Shine performs. Especially from a local Victoria band. The each member of 5-piece took turns singing a verse or two during their cover of The Band’s “The Weight,” but they all came together to harmonize in the chorus.

Over the last few years, we’ve had the chance to watch our friends Hawk & Steel grow as a band. Peter Gardner has finally slipped into the role of the charismatic lead singer we’ve all known he could be since the beginning. His crowd banter and engagement with the audience is filled with his sharp and unique humour.

Hawk & Steel’s set focused primarily on their second album, “Anywhere But Here,” which came out last month. The crowd seemed to be digging what the band was putting out there by inching closer and closer to the stage with encouragement from the band. The climax of the set was when Peter even jumped off the stage to solo in the crowd during “David and Katie.”

As the sun started to set, Dirty Mountain took the stage. This was the country rock band’s debut show. There seemed to be a theme of country-inspired bands playing the Midsummer Night’s Party. Despite an unending series of sound issues for the band, they soldiered on.

Dirty Mountain played one of the best sets of the evening, though the crowd may have never noticed. Most were talking louder than the amps, with their backs to the band. It was clear that people were here to socialize and party more than enjoy some of Victoria’s best music. This continued well after the band finished, when people were more excited to dance and sing along to Drake, Tyler the Creator, and Kendrick Lamar between band sets.

Wrapping up the evening up was the synth-heavy indie rockers Isobel Trigger, a band that takes their music to the next level in both professionalism and showmanship. With the moves of Felicia Harding, the flexible lights wrapped under bass player Kyle Lowther’s shirt, and the unmistakable beats by Ariel Tseng, Isobel Trigger is certainly a band to watch in the future. It’s our opinion that they are certainly going to be a big thing.

While there were some negatives to get past at ANIÁN’s Midsummer Night’s Party — the sound and lighting issues, the rude crowd, and running out of cider — it is certainly a great venue. It’s an intimate, unique, and open air space. There is nothing better than watching some of your favourite local bands play as the sun sets, a cold beer beer in your hand. Keep it up ANIÁN. We’d love to see more shows at your shop.