Rock the Shores, Day 1: Homegrown rock

What: Rock the Shores

When: Friday

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Where: Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, Colwood

Kytami, the Vancouver-born electric fiddle wizard, was entertaining enough.

And then SpaceBoots came on.

“Let’s hear it for SpaceBoots!” screamed Kytami’s DJ.

There were cheers from a thousand people gathered in front of the Rock the Shores stage under blues skies and sunshine. A gaggle of guitar-wielding dudes in tights and helmets, SpaceBoots commenced power-chording as Kytami sawed away on her black violin. Even better, one of the SpaceBooters, banging a red tambourine, climbed up the shoulders of his buddy, who was mightily smiting a cowbell.

That’s the way it was at Rock the Shores late Friday afternoon. Organizers touted it as the largest local music event in Vancouver Island history. People in tank tops and ball caps wandered around grinning beatifically. A three-year-old girl in a blue princess dress, wearing earmuff hearing protectors, pranced merrily. Thirsty audience-goers forked out $10 and $8 for plastic glasses of cider and beer.

Kytami, a sprite-like violin phenom in black hot pants, offered a new-age/traditional fiddle set, backed by DJ cranking out a torrent of electronic and hip-hop. At times, he exhorted celebrants to party even more heartily: “I forgot to tell you, the more noise you make, the harder she plays!”

By 5 p.m. the crowd, now larger, was chowing down on tacos, poutine, mini doughnuts, and fish and chips. These well-behaved folk recycled their garbage and obediently strolled down walking lanes marked off in white chalk. They relaxed on blankets, lawnchairs and blue and orange inflatables.

Next up was Towers and Trees, who played their pop-folk-rock set as a staffer hosed down fans waving their hands to and fro. The band’s lead singer, Adrian Chalifour, encouraged everyone to have hot fun in the summertime despite the “uncertainty” in the world.

“I think it’s important in these times to turn your head down and your heart up,” he said.

The menu then switched to meat-and-potatoes with the Band of Rascals. These local heroes embrace as classic rock esthetic — it sounds like they’ve listened to plenty of Led Zeppelin, Free, Bad Company and Sons of Leon.

Life changing? Not quite. But the Rascals — with the lead singer and guitar waving their shoulder-length manes — provided a heapin’ helpin’ of what the band calls “nuts and bolts rock ’n’ roll.” Good guitarist. Good showmanship. And the crowd seemed to like it.

Also on the roster was another hometown act, Jon & Roy (a.k.a. singer-guitarist Jon Middleton and drummer Roy Vizer). The duo, here joined by a bassist, offered a much more laid-back groove.

It’s a quintessentially West Coast duo, surfer folk. Middleton’s easy phrasing and Vizer’s soft-touch drumming seemed perfectly suited to a summer night in Victoria. Knocking beach balls into the air, the crowd swayed, relaxed, to such J&R favourites as Little Bit of Love. At the end, they introduced a trombone and trumpet, adding some welcome punch to the sound.

Several thousand music lovers were gathered in front of the stage by the time singer-guitarist Jesse Roper strolled on. Introduced as “the Ayatollah of Rock-and-Rolla,” the ponchoed Roper impressed with a well-received set of Stevie Ray Vaughan/Hendrix influenced blues-rock.

While the scene appeared peaceful, West Shore police reported several arrests for intoxication and drug possession.

Rock the Shores continues Saturday and Sunday at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, Colwood. For more information, go to

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