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Rock the Shores: Few problems at family-friendly event, police say

The Swansons were one of many families set up for the midday start of the Rock the Shores music festival in Colwood on Saturday. “We drove down from Nanaimo for this.
Darren and Lex Swanson with children Ian, 6, and Brynn, 10, at Rock the Shores in Colwood on Saturday, July 23, 2016.

The Swansons were one of many families set up for the midday start of the Rock the Shores music festival in Colwood on Saturday.

“We drove down from Nanaimo for this. There are a lot of great bands,” said mom Lex Swanson, a bottle of sunscreen in her back pocket.

“Our peak concert-going years were the ’90s, so this fun,” she said of herself and partner Darren Swanson.

Mom and Dad aren’t the only ones who like to rock. Brynn, 10, is an avid drummer. She saved up for lessons at eight years old and is learning a song by City and Colour — the night’s headline act.

“It’s pretty good,” said Brynn, who plans to jam with six-year-old brother Ian, who is learning the electric guitar.

This weekend marks the fifth annual Rock the Shores, held on the lower fields at the West Shore Parks and Recreation complex.

The headliners for the three-day rock show include Metric, Arkells and New Pornographers. Past acts have included Janes Addiction, Weezer and Tom Cochrane.

In the festival’s first year, a lightning storm nearly forced the cancellation of the Tragically Hip. Coincidentally, the iconic Canadian rockers played what is likely to be their last show in Victoria on Friday night, as frontman Gord Downie is battling terminal cancer.

Saturday’s Rock the Shores show started with local musician Fintan O’Brien and his folk rock band.

Guitarist Joe Avio was so stoked on the gig he quit his job at the Red Barn in Oak Bay to make it. “I wasn’t getting time for music,” he said.

The band recently started a regular Monday show at the Mint to raise funds for the Power of Hope youth camp.

The crowd filled out, with folding chairs and water bottles, as rock bands Year of the Wolf and Royal Tusk cranked up bass and guitar riffs. An estimated 8,000 people were in attendance.

There were no major incidents or rowdiness at the festival Friday or Saturday, said Gary O’Brien from Nanaimo RCMP. He said a number of officers came from around the Island to help the West Shore detachment with security.

“It’s a very family-friendly event,” O’Brien said.

On Friday, five people were escorted from the venue for over-intoxication.

“There were also one or two overdoses, suspected to be MDMA,” he said, noting the affected persons received medical attention and were fine.

Throughout the week, West Shore RCMP tried to dissuade attendees from bringing drugs to the event — including marijuana for personal use with a licence.

“So there’s an amnesty box for drop off,” O’Brien said, noting a grey box for voluntary drug disposal prior to entry.

O’Brien said he was impressed with the organization of the event and said so far the biggest task has been escorting people across the highway after the show.

Rock the Shores continues Sunday. For more information, go to

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