City and Colour cap off a very Canadian LIVE at Squamish weekend 

Over 20,000 people turned out for three days of music

click to enlarge BY STEPHEN SMYSNUIK - MOTHER MOTHER: The band's set was a definite festival highlight — not just in 2012, but also for all three years combined.
  • By Stephen Smysnuik
  • MOTHER MOTHER: The band's set was a definite festival highlight — not just in 2012, but also for all three years combined.

The numbers weren't as large on the final night of LIVE at Squamish compared to earlier in the weekend, but the crowd was no less enthusiastic.

Around 8,000 people turned out Sunday night for the cap off of the third annual LIVE at Squamish festival. The crowd was more relaxed than on Saturday, and while the clouds threatened rain throughout the day the weather held out, making for a positive experience all around - and a very Canadian one at that.

That will prove to be the lingering memory of LIVE at Squamish's third installment - all of Canada's best bands playing in a very Canadian location to a mostly-Canadian 20,000-person audience of over three days.

Headliners City and Colour played a blistering set that certainly gained them a few new fans. Likewise for Mother Mother, whose set was a definite festival highlight - not just in 2012, but also for all three years combined.

Most of the crowds stuck to the Stawamus main stage; with significantly smaller crowds huddled around the Garibaldi stage, despite it hosting some of the weekend's highlights. The Motown Tribute to Nickelback's soulful take on the most hated of Canadian bands' songs took on added power given the recent union of Chad Krueger and Avril Lavigne (one song was even dedicated to "Chavril"). Hours later, Vancouver's Pack A.D. played to maybe 200 people in what was arguably the most rock and roll 45 minutes of the weekend.

All around, the festival was a success for the audience and organizers alike, despite a very sketchy and delayed start thanks to vehicle accidents on the Sea to Sky highway Saturday morning. Fortunately, the weekend was defined by experience as a whole - not by the weather, or the accident, or even the performances. Everything blended together creating a positive weekend.

"We're trying to build this festival culture that transcends the individual bands (so it) becomes about the experience," said the festival's executive producer Paul Runnals. "And that experience begins on the road trip. It's not a very long road trip but its kind of part of the ritual of coming here and I think people are starting to look forward to it."

Already, Runnals has his sights set on 2013, with a date change in the cards. LIVE at Squamish takes place on the same weekend as the Reading and Leeds Music Festivals in the U.K. - two of the biggest music festivals in the world - which pulled many of the artists away that LIVE at Squamish organizers were hoping to book. The hope, Runnals said, is to piggy-back off another festival like San Francisco's Outside Lands in order to book artists that are already in the area.

"We'll be finalizing that (date change) within a month or so, if not sooner," he said.

"Certainly, we're looking to grow from where we are today. Does that mean we're going to go bigger and better? I mean, probably. We're going to be looking for that. Obviously we didn't have as much international representation as we would have liked (this year)," he says.

This is, of course, part of what made this year's festival so unique and Runnals said they're proud of the lineup they pulled together. Whether or not it grows to include more international acts in 2013, at least Canada had 2012.

By John French


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