Rock the Shores: Numbers down, but few hiccups in music fest

REVIEW

What: Rock the Shores with Our Lady Peace, Loverboy, Mother Mother, Kongos and more

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When: Sunday

Where: Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre lower fields

With very few production hiccups or serious incidents, the third annual Rock the Shores festival officially hit its stride during the weekend.

Even though attendance dipped from years prior, co-producer Nick Blasko of Atomique Productions said the feedback he received throughout the Colwood festival was overwhelmingly positive. “It was night and day from the last two years. This is our new standard.”

A revamped site layout at the 12,000-capacity event, in part to accommodate a new open liquor licence that allowed patrons to consume alcohol almost anywhere on site, was deemed a success by police patrolling the event.

Police made 17 arrests over three days, 15 of which were for public intoxication. Those numbers were encouraging, considering the festival averaged 8,000 fans per day, said West Shore RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz.

“Those [arrest] numbers are consistent with last year. In the policing world, when we have a large event with no major situations, that’s a positive thing.”

St. John Ambulance members were extremely busy, treating more than 200 people with ailments ranging from minor cuts and stings to a possible fractured arm and ankle, which were sustained in the mosh pit Saturday night during a set by headliners Billy Talent.

“It’s a large number, but with that many people and 30-degree heat, that is fairly standard,” said Martin Wong, divisional superintendent for St. John Ambulance Victoria.

Attendees who stayed cool and hydrated were treated to a fine roster of entertainment Sunday, capped by a strong festival-closing set from Toronto rockers Our Lady Peace.

The band’s singer, Raine Maida, was up, down, and across the festival stage during the band’s set, which was backed by a pink sunset that blanketed the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre fields.

For his part, Maida, 44, acted like a rocker half his age, climbing the stage scaffolding and stepping down off the stage to sing from within the crowd. Our Lady Peace proved to be the perfect band to wind down an outdoor rock festival besieged by sun all weekend long. Maida even tweeted soon after his performance that it was a “very special festival.”

In a nice gesture to the previous night’s headliner, Maida dipped into Billy Talent’s Try Honesty at one point. This and almost everything else came up roses during the final day, even without the Jakob Dylan-led Wallflowers, who cancelled their planned set due to what was reported as a scheduling conflict.

If there was any lingering doubt after the 2013 version, which had its share of difficulties due to lineups, both at the gate and in the beer garden, that was erased.

“I’ve done a lot of festivals, but this one is pretty special,” Maida said from the stage.

He wasn’t the only performer feeling the love Sunday. Victoria native Darren Glover of Toronto band Flash Lightnin’ was a blues-rock hit in the day’s first slot, followed by Halifax rockers the Stanfields, who were incredibly well-received early on.

Toronto’s July Talk and South Africa’s Kongos provided one of the best back-to-backs of the weekend. July Talk singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay offered a girl-guy dynamic that will inevitably evoke comparisons with Stars and Metric, though theirs was a style all their own. Fay dabbed her sweat-soaked forehead with a roll of toilet paper thrown on stage from the audience, while Dreimanis swigged beer generously, giving his already size-XL stage persona extra zip.

Kongos, something of an intangible going into the festival, had the dance-mad audience in their palms from the outset. The four Kongos siblings even brought out a guest rapper (who was, in fact, part of their crew) to lead them through a terrific mash-up featuring the Beatles and Dr. Dre. “This is the final date of our Canadian run,” said drummer Jesse Kongos. “I couldn’t think of a better way to end it.”

Loverboy started very slowly, focusing on plenty of deep album cuts. The group got rolling when 14-year-old Victoria guitarist and Loverboy super fan Landen Shaw joined in on The Kid Is Hot Tonite (he was a brought out by singer Mike Reno like a conquering hero, which was a nice touch).

From that point on, the band steadily gathered steam, though it was almost too little too late by the time the set wrapped with Working for the Weekend.

Bottom line: Loverboy was good, but far from great.

It appears that Vancouver’s Mother Mother now occupies a permanent place on the Greater Victoria festival landscape. The group, which played the 2013 edition of Rock the Shores and 2012 edition of Rifflandia, remains a solid booking nonetheless. The crowd for their set skewed to a younger demographic, but that’s not a bad thing in terms of audience reaction. The applause was thunderous at various points during Mother Mother’s set, making it some of the biggest of the festival.

The sun has officially set on the third edition of Rock the Shores. But for Blasko, the work for edition No. 4 has already begun. “Numbers wise, we were a bit down,” he said. “But I consider that a slight step backward for a giant leap forward next year.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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