Tis the final hurrah for the Two Acre Shaker.
Yes, the annual one-day epic party, which has been bringing dance music and hip hop to the Pemberton Valley for seven years, is going out on a high note, with its strongest lineup yet.
This year, Sacramento hip-hop duo Blackalicious headlines the event for the first time, with Calgary's Smalltown DJs, Stylust Beats of San Francisco, Neon Steve of Victoria and Humans of Vancouver joining them.
The rest of the 17-act lineup includes Blondtron, Bestie, Neighbour, Thinktank, Sweet Soul Burlesque and Whistler's own Skiitour, DJ Rich-A and Animal Nation.
Blackalicious, made up of rapper Gift of Gab and DJ/producer Chief Xcel, has their fourth album, Emoni, coming out in July.
"They are an amazing duo from the Bay Area in California," says co-organizer Pat McKinnon. "They're one of my favourite hip-hop acts of all time, the ideal hip-hop act for the Shaker crowd, upbeat and lively, lots of positive energy. They've been on the scene for a long time... they are certainly the biggest name we've been able to draw. They're a powerhouse and we're super excited to have them out here.
"We always like to have a handful of headliners, three or four acts who are outside the Vancouver to Pemberton corridor, and then the local acts. I think it's really important to involve the local artists, the Whistler and Vancouver scenes."
Nevertheless, it's time to move on, he adds.
"For a multitude of reasons, we collectively decided this is going to be the last year we throw the Shaker," says McKinnon, who has organized the one-night Pemberton party with Kirk Becker and Lon Flath since 2008.
This year the Shaker is on Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Lillooet Lake Rodeo Grounds north of Pemberton.
"Last year was definitely our most successful Shaker on a number of levels, but after the dust had settled we were ready to give it a pass," McKinnon says.
"It's not any one given thing; there were a lot of factors. It even came down to the wire as to whether we were going to throw it this year. But in the end, we started yearning and thought that maybe we should have one last Shaker."
They hope that advertising it up front will "pull people out of the woodwork" for one last awesome evening.
McKinnon agreed that there were mixed feelings about pulling the plug.
"I don't think that any of us are thinking of this as the end of our creative projects.... We all have that strong creative drive and that energy will get channelled somewhere. There are aspects of throwing this event that we all really enjoy and there will be some of that we miss," he says.
From 2008 to 2011, the party took place on Becker's property and would sell out; the current venue is double the capacity.
"Our agreement with the Mount Currie Band (which owns the rodeo grounds) is to cap the Shaker at 1,500 people. Last year, we were pretty close to hitting that number, about 1,300 people," McKinnon says.
"The actual event itself went off pretty flawlessly. So far this year, the initial buzz with our tickets having just gone on sale is really positive."
He adds that despite the Shaker being an independently produced show, each of them knows what's expected.
"As a team we're a fairly well-oiled machine now in that we know our strengths and our own different job descriptions. The people who come out — staff, artists, volunteers — they are all amazing. And we kept on time; there weren't any incidents at the Shaker, only minor first-aid incidents. We hardly had to bring in the local authorities, our security team had to deal with minor things," says McKinnon.
"Having the numbers the we had and drawing the type of crowd that we drew, it was a really fun night for us as organizers, which isn't always the case."
McKinnon, Flath and Becker would considered someone else taking on the job of organizing the Two Acre Shaker, he adds.
"I guess we've only really loosely considered that. We haven't heard of anyone coming up and wanting to take it over from us, but under the right circumstances we could pass it on to a different generation," McKinnon says.
A tragic accident in the morning following the 2013 Two Acre Shaker occurred when a truck carrying five people who had been to the event rolled on Pemberton Meadows Road, injuring four and killing Matt Ouellette, 29, of Whistler.
McKinnon says they were all shaken up by the accident, but they had already decided to end the Shaker.
"We start organizing this party in November. I'm a physiotherapist, Lon is a ski patroller and manager on Blackcomb, and Kirk is a mountain guide... None of us had much experience in this when we started. Every year it gets bigger and we want to do a better job and that just takes more time each year. It eats up a sizeable portion of our spring and summer."
The $40 online ticket presale is already sold out. They are currently selling tickets at the $50 tier-one level.
For more information and tickets visit www.twoacreshaker.com.
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