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Rifflandia week two: Five must-see acts at Royal Athletic Park.

Rifflandia enters its second week of programming Friday at Royal Athletic Park
Herbie Hancock performs Sunday at Rifflandia. MUSE MEDIA

Rifflandia enters its second week of programming Friday at Royal Athletic Park, where the annual music festival has spent the majority of its existence since 2011.

The site is better suited to roots and rock acts, which largely do not factor into the programming at Electric Avenue, which wrapped a three-day run of dance music with a record-setting attendance of 8,000 people on Saturday. That’s all good news.

The bad news? It’s nearly impossible to catch the full roster of artists on tap through the weekend. Iggy Pop, Salt-N-Pepa and Diplo are expected highlights, which means sizable crowds will be assembled for the local debuts from all three. Those aren’t the only must-see sets, of course, so dig into what The Park has to offer. Here are five performers you don’t want to miss.


It’s never a given that a punk-metal hybrid will sound great in concert four decades removed from its heyday, but that isn’t necessarily the point where Suicidal Tendencies is concerned. Singer/founder Mike Muir is revered for pioneering crossover thrash, a genre that rose to prominence in the 1980s, and he’s been getting his share of respect in recent years. Suicidal Tendencies opened for Metallica this month, so expect the band to be running hot when it makes its Victoria debut tomorrow. A mosh pit is guaranteed. (Friday, 5:45 p.m., Rifftop Stage).


Don’t bother trying to prep for the local debut of looping dynamo Marc Rebillet; the New York transplant makes it up as he goes along, and creates improvisational sets on stage with the elements around him as fodder. The native of Dallas, Texas (whose surname is pronounced Rebel-yay) isn’t for everyone, but he can be utterly exceptional in the right environment. Will that be the case at Rifflandia? If he ends up half-naked by the end of his funk-heavy set, take that as a compliment. (Friday, 6:45 p.m., Main Stage).


Here’s what you can expect from the almighty Mavis Staples this weekend: Solid gold (that, and a deft cover of Talking Heads’ Slippery People). The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, now 84, is not only a queen without a crown, she’s also a singer without peer (Rolling Stone ranked her at 46 on their list of the 200 greatest of all-time) and performer with incomparable skills. Before you go thinking that missing Mavis Staples is a good idea…think again. (Saturday, 5 p.m., Main Stage).


Strange though it may be to see Hancock’s set sandwiched between ones by rapper DijahSB and rockers KALEO, there’s no doubt that Hancock knows how his distinguish himself. Backed by A-list musicians Terence Blanchard (formerly of The Jazz Messengers) and James Genus (currently of the Saturday Night Live houses band), the keytar-wielding Hancock is expected to play both Chameleon and Footprints, so expect jazz and funk of the highest possible variety. (Sunday, 6:05 p.m., Main Stage).


Icelandic rockers KALEO are difficult to define. The quintet, led by big-voiced singer-guitarist Jökull Júlíusson, has on its resume two smash rock radio singles (including the Grammy-nominated No Good and Way Down We Go, which has nearly 600 million views on YouTube) but its best singles are the slow burners All the Pretty Girls and I Can’t Go On Without You. With a decade of experience, and a killer live show, don’t be surprised if KALEO’s set ranks with the best of Rifflandia 2023. (Sunday, 7:05 p.m., Rifftop Stage).

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