With in-person shows, Wonderment festival takes a step toward 'normal'


What: Wonderment 2021
Where: Various venues, including Beacon Hill Park
When: Friday July 30 through Monday Aug. 2
Tickets: Free

Wonderment returns to normal this weekend with four days of in-person performances, a positive step forward for the electronic music festival on the heels of its online 2020 edition, which offered a limited number of live concerts for audiences of up to 50 people.

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Therein lies the difficulty for artistic director David Bodrug, who finds himself in a difficult position at present. “We want to make sure our events are attended, but not overly attended in a way that makes it awkward for some people. It’s weird, because we still have the pandemic and don’t want to have overwhelming numbers. We’ve been balancing that.”

Bodrug has found a happy medium for the festival’s sixth edition, which is produced by the Garden City Electronic Music Society. Evening events at Wonderment were held indoors during previous years, to maximize the audio-visual impact. Audio-visual programming is being showcased on the Sunday evening at Beacon Hill Park, with an installation by Matthew Cardinal and Stephanie Kuse at Open Space Gallery that can be viewed throughout the weekend employing some of the same elements.

In addition to the stage at Beacon Hill Park, other venues in play through Monday include Fisherman’s Wharf Park in James Bay, West Bridge Plaza (on Esquimalt Road near the Delta Ocean Point Resort), and Banfield Park (on Craigflower Road, behind the Vic West Community Centre).

“The character of the festival, we’ve always tried to have events that are spacious and have room for people to sit,” Bodrug said. “People have always just naturally spread out. We’re not the type of festival where there’s a crush at the stage and tons of people everywhere.”

The festival is designed to put ambient music artists into natural environments. Cardinal (Edmonton) and Kuse (Saskatoon) are the only out-of-province artists coming in for the event. With a roster of primarily local and regional favourites on tap, including The Librarian, Adham Shaikh, Longwalkshortdock, and Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness, capacities for some of the events are equipped to handle larger crowds — a well-timed development.

People are ready for a return to live music, Bodrug said. “Fifty people is too few for the park environments that we use. This year, instead of a capacity of 50 it’s at 200, with room around our event area for more than that to spread out. I don’t see numbers in the thousands for us. The numbers will be manageable.

“It’s not a big party or anything — basically, it’s environmental music. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, and in the context of the music and the parks, it works.”


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