Rock the Shores Festival ends on a high note

Rock the Shores was a multi-level success in its fourth year, with perfect weather, solid crowds and few incidents to report through the weekend.

Festivalgoers seemed better prepared Sunday to deal with the stifling heat, which hit 30C at one point. Organizers did their part, too, making ample water available, from faucet stations to mist tents. Water was a priority for organizers on Sunday, particularly when temperatures rose.

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Nick Blasko of Atomique Productions, which produces the music event, felt the festival team did all it could to educate patrons about keeping cool in the heat.

“We doubled our water stations on Sunday, a day that had nearly half as many people [as Saturday],” he said.

Blasko said as of Monday no major incidents had been reported, in terms of the health and welfare of the audience. “As far as I can tell, it was all pretty standard stuff,” he added.

West Shore RCMP said 13 people were arrested over the two-day festival, nine on Saturday and four on Sunday.

Police seized pot from 57 people and other drugs from six more people.

Eight people were removed for public intoxication and one person was ejected when security staff found a can of pepper spray in his bag, said Const. Alex Berube.

Ross Nicholls, spokesman for St. John Ambulance, said his onsite team treated approximately 160 people through the weekend, the majority of which were minor ailments. There were some serious heat issues to contend with, he said, but the number of attendees needing treatment “wasn’t crazy” given the weather.

“It was pretty well what we expected,” Nicholls said. “Heat was a big issue, and kudos to the producers, because they did put up some shade. Nothing was as bad as I might have expected. My overall take is that it was a successful event in terms of the organization and precautions taken.”

The second and §nal day of the Colwood festival, which came to a close with a triumphant set from Los Angeles rock veterans Jane’s Addiction, may have been hot, but most fans were able to beat the heat thanks to a collection of some under-the-radar-acts who punched well above their weight on this day.

Sunday’s concert, held at the West Shore Parks and Recreation fields, did not draw the size of audience that assembled Saturday to see The Black Keys close out opening day, but the nearly 7,000 fans were in fine form nonetheless, reacting loudly to every trick from headliners Jane’s Addiction. The group was strong and purposeful during its nighttime set, turning in what was perhaps the performance of the festival.

Jane Says — performed acoustically with all four members stationed at the front of the stage — was an expected highlight, much like the set closer Stop. But the band’s deeper catalogue (from Ocean Size to Standing in the Shower Thinking) resonated most with fans and gave their performance well-rounded heft.

The group left little doubt as to why they were chosen to close the festival. From frontman Perry Farrell’s persona and drummer Stephen Perkins’ considerable skills, to guitar god Dave Navarro’s rock-star moves, the band wasn’t short on drama. Jane’s Addiction also showcased two sets of leather-clad dancers, two of whom swung from the stage via ropes attached to rings pieced through the skin on their back.

Australian singer-songwriter Kim Churchill and Victoria band Zerbin were up early, but the scene-stealer of the early afternoon was Jesse Roper, who opened his 1:15 p.m set with a feedback-drenched rendition of O Canada, which got the crowd engaged. The popular Metchosin rocker needed no further outside help, as his set - which included favourites Hurricane’s Eye and Shiny Round Nickel - created a tangible sense of electricity.

Fans were abuzz following auto-tuned crazies PPL MVR, who caused quite a stir with their Sasquatch-style costumes and gimmick guitars, but it was mostly shtick; fun, but frivolous. PPL MVR deserve credit, however, for wearing what had to be sweat-soaked costumes for the duration of their set.

Bleachers (which features Jack Antonoff of the band Fun) and Father John Misty (the solo project of former Fleet Foxes member Josh Tillman) were standouts, with an all-inclusive aura that won over the audience. Thanks to their involvement, Sunday’s programming had the Saturday sets beat.

TV on the Radio was a fine example of how sinewy indie rock can move mountains when played with the proper mix of emotion and skill. On paper, the acclaimed New York group wasn’t expected to challenge anyone for Rock the Shores supremacy. In execution, however, the band was a runaway highlight; a tight, bright and utterly likable combo. Jitterbug frontman Tunde Adebimpe was especially effective.

Jane’s Addiction, with their 75-minute set, put a permanent smile on Blasko’s face. The producer upped Rock the Shores’ production budget considerably this year, by bringing in acts such as The Black Keys. Though audience numbers were down from last year, he felt the move to bigger, more dependable U.S. acts was a good one for the fourth edition.

“We lifted the festival up this year,” Blasko said. “It was a heavy lift, but we did it. It wasn’t a homerun, but we charted a new course and I think it worked out.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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