Rock the Shores music festival cancelled for this summer

After five straight years jamming the soccer fields of Colwood, the Rock the Shores music festival has “postponed” this year’s concert until 2018 to waylay “challenges that threaten to undermine the future and viability” of the three-day event.

Co-producer Nick Blasko said Wednesday that it was a difficult decision that he expects will shock thousands of music lovers who flock to see 20-plus acts over three days. There was plenty of disappointment expressed on the event’s Facebook page, and lots of frowning emoticons.

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"Noooo!” said Jen Smith. “Such sad festival news for the year. Luv ya RTS!"

Opting out this year was “the best decision to make in terms of the business climate,” Blasko said. He cited problems finding the right talent amid a lot more competition, more artists who are not touring or out of the price range of Victoria-based Atomique Productions, which manages the festival. “In general, there’s a lack of headline talent,” he said, adding he usually attracts five or six headliners. “A lot of artists are off cycle and not touring, and there are more events and less talent and we couldn’t really build a competent ticket base.”

For people who have already bought their tickets, there is “no issue” in getting refunds, and a website is set up for it, he said. Early bird three day-tickets cost $125.

Meaghan Harvey said on Facebook that she is “so bummed” because her whole summer vacation had been planned around the festival.

In 2012, Rock the Shores attracted its biggest crowd, with 12,500 fans in one night coming for The Tragically Hip.

Last summer, on the same Friday night that The Tragically Hip kicked off its goodbye tour at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre with 8,307 fans, Blasko estimated more than 7,000 showed up at Rock the Shores, and just as many the next night. Among the acts were City and Colour, Jesse Roper, the New Pornographers, Metric, and Eagles of Death Metal.

In its five years, Rock the Shores has broken even, Blasko said. Atomique’s other summer festivals will return. They include Car Free YYJ on June 18, Phillips Backyard Weekend July 7-9 and Rifflandia Sept. 14-17.

Another factor in not having a Rock the Shores this year is the number of free music events that will likely be a part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebration in July, said Blasko, who helped produced the Spirit of 150 Victoria First Night show on New Year’s Eve.

“It was a difficult decision but it was the right decision. We want to be around for a long time,” Blasko said.

This message was posted Wednesday on the Rock the Shores website: “Our goal from the beginning was to build THE annual rock festival for Islanders, and we remain 100% committed to it. This year in particular has presented multiple challenges towards achieving this goal — challenges that threaten to undermine the future and viability of Rock the Shores. These include the limited availability of suitable headline talent, coupled with increasing market saturation and competition in a year of national celebration. Rest assured, the journey is far from over and we will keep everyone posted as we shape next year’s festival.

“We are proud of every artist we have booked, and we are so grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way, first and foremost our ticket buyers!”

Music fan Angela Meredith posted a response, saying that she is “super sad!!!” “It’s my favourite festival. Hopefully you’re back and better than ever in 2018.”

kdedyna@timescolonist.com

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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