Picking just a few highlights from the Pemberton Music Festival is tough, and with so many things to take in over the weekend, it's likely that no two festival-goers would have the same list of favourites.
But if you've got a moment to spare while massaging some feeling back into your dance-weary legs, here are a few of the things that made the long-awaited festival's return great in my mind:
Tyler, The Creator: I'm not sure anybody in the Spud Valley had more fun this weekend than the 23-year-old rapper.
First, Tyler curated the on-site skate park, and a pop-up store in a shipping container selling his Golf Wang clothing line, with some proceeds of his new t-shirts going to support an asthma foundation. And then there was his set on late Friday afternoon, which had fans howling from his low-brow humour, as much as enjoying his hip-hop stylings.
Tyler's show ended at 6 p.m., but his night was far from over. Hours later, he was still perched on top of his store overlooking the skate park, dancing like a maniac in a sweat-drenched shirt. He was completely in his own world up there, and it was one of the festival's most Vine-able moments.
Food: There was delicious fare no matter where you stopped. It's tough to pick a favourite dish from the whole weekend, but highlights included the bannock taco from Pemberton's own Grimm's Gourmet and Deli, the Mexicanka perogies from Hungry Rooster, and The Burger Bus's bison jalapeño offering.
Sunday Schedule Changes: The stage shuffle organizers made for the final day was brilliant.
That's because they were able to eliminate the conflicting shows of St. Vincent and Modest Mouse, making all fans who like their rock music slightly outside the mainstream breathe a sigh of relief for not having to choose one or the other. And those two performances, back-to-back, ended up being far and away my favourite one-two punch of the entire festival.
St. Vincent, a.k.a. Annie Clark, took full advantage of her move to the main stage with an electric presentation of her delightfully off-kilter rock, and likely gained some new fans impressed by her unique guitar work and odd choreography.
Moments later at the adjacent Mt. Currie stage, Modest Mouse showed they still have an impressive cult following, even without a full-length album release in the past seven years. The Washington State band brought incredible energy to deep cuts from their 2000 classic The Moon & Antarctica, and also gave one of the festival's few encores, pounding their way through the banjo-fuelled "This Devil's Workday" when fans demanded more.
Outkast was a ton of fun and would have been a phenomenal festival-closer if plans hadn't changed, but moving Frank Ocean to the last act of the night gave fans an extra hour of music to wind up the weekend. Great stuff.
The weather: The sun made things tough on campers loading in on the Thursday, but Mother Nature was kind for the rest of the fest. It was warm, but never uncomfortably hot. It rained, but never enough to make it miserable, and just enough to keep the site from turning into a dust bowl. That the weather was never an issue only made the weekend easier to enjoy.
Comedy wasn't an afterthought: I was worried that the tremendous lineup of comedians wouldn't draw well, considering the heavyweight musical acts it was up against. But I was pleasantly surprised to see the Laugh Camp Tent busy for most of the weekend. Being next to the campground entrance likely helped with that, but sitting down for a few laughs was a nice way to get a break from the pounding bass and rest some tired feet.
I would have liked to catch a lot more comedians, but Doug Benson was the best of the ones I did. The comedian behind Super High Me is known first and foremost for his love for the herb, and he probably could have filled out his entire 45-minute set with jokes about B.C. Bud. Instead, he spent most of the time giggling along while politely riffing on the crowd in his own lovable way. Note to parents: Do not put headphones on your baby and bring them to a Doug Benson show. You will be laughed at.
The campground vibe: Cramming several thousand people into small plots on a field has the potential for chaos, but the campsite was a welcoming place the whole weekend. The beautifully lit Huka Avenue, which served as the main pathway through the site, was filled with smiling faces and a positive buzz at any hour of the day or night. The campers themselves created a great atmosphere that I hope to see again when the festival returns — for real this time.
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