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Pemberton Festival channels the '90s

Pearl Jam, J. Cole, Kaskade, Snoop Dogg, Bassnectar, Wiz Khalifa and Ice Cube headlining third festival
Pearl Jam The Seattle rockers are headlining, with the Huka chairman A..J. Niland saying he is 'beyond excited.'. Photo submitted

There's a definite taste of the '90s in the lineup of this year's Pemberton Music Festival.

Pearl Jam, J. Cole, Kaskade, Snoop Dogg, Bassnectar, Wiz Khalifa, Ice Cube are headlining the third festival, which takes place from July 14 to 17.

Also performing are Halsey, Fka Twigs, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, DJ Snake, The Chainsmokers, Billy Idol, Steve Angello, Flosstradamus, Miguel, Purity Ring, Die Antwoord, Tyler, The Creator, Mac Miller, Cypress Hill, Mastodon, Arkells , Wolf Parade, Cold War Kids, Thievery Corporation, Girl Talk, Yg, Baauer, Tory Lanez, Big Gigantic, Grace Potter, Børns, Method Man & Redman, Rae Sremmurd, Datsik, Coleman Hell, Kehlani, Ra Ra Riot, Wintersleep, Savages, Joey Bada$$, Keys N Krates, Robert Delong, Sza, Jon Bellion, Protoje, Anderson, Paak & The Free Nationals, Lido, Hudson Mohawke, Givers, Kaleo, Diiv, White Denim, Allen Stone, Bully, Hucci, Mark Farina, Lunice, Bas, Braids, The Glorious Sons, Shawn Hook, Miami Horror, Stick Figure, The Funk Hunters, The Zolas, The Elwins, The London Souls, Hippie Sabotage, Esta, Chrome Sparks, Dizzy Wright, Jahkoy, Pell, Jesse Roper, Mickey Blue, and Quaker City Night Hawks.

And Pemberton Comedy is back with Cheech and Chong, Craig Robinson & The Nasty Delicious, Maria Bamford, Nick Swardson, Pete Davidson, Doug Benson (Stand-Up + Doug Loves Movies + Getting Doug With High), Eugene Mirman, Kyle Kinane, Jermaine Fowler, The Lucas Brothers, Morgan Murphy, Beth Stelling, DJ Douggpound, Jackie Kashian, John Early + Kate Berlant, Air Sex, Chris Trew and Ian Abramson.

"I'm beyond excited," says A.J. Niland, chairman and chief experience officer of Huka Entertainment, the festival's organizer.

"Pearl Jam is the band that introduced me to Pemberton, in a weird way. We were seeking the perfect Pacific Northwest location to host a band like Pearl Jam and that's how we stumbled upon Pemberton in the first place.

"Now, years later, being able to put them on the bill is really exciting."

The diversity of the lineup remains important to organizers, Niland adds.

"You've got everything in the rock, pop, electronic, classic rock genre. There are strong names all the way down to the bottom line."

There are several returning performers, including J. Cole and Snoop Dogg.

"The feedback that we've gotten from performers (about past festivals) has been tremendous. Acts like Snoop, J. Cole, Bass Cole and the Givers have made returns by reaching out, they are asking to come back and play because it is a festival experience," Niland says.

"Some performers who were booked at previous (Pemberton Festivals) on a much tighter schedule, in one night and out the following day, they're now staying for the whole weekend. They're asking their agents to book off the whole weekend. They're coming to hang out because they got a little taste of it."

He wouldn't say which artists were planning to stick around, but it was partly down to the beauty of Pemberton and the Sea to Sky region.

Asked about a relative lack of female talent in the lineup so far — Fka Twigs, Halsey, Grace Potter and Die Antwoord not withstanding — Niland said they hadn't found a female headlining act, like last year's attendee Missy Elliott.

"We don't sit down and develop a ratio... due to the booking process you're constantly competing with festivals in Europe. July is the biggest festival month there. That's our biggest competitor," Niland says.

"There's still a pretty good amount... there's definitely not a marquee big female name."

But expect more announcements as the lineup is finalized in the coming weeks, Niland adds.

Niland was present for a Huka presentation in February to Pemberton council. He says his personal commitment to the festival and the region has increased with time, and has reached a point where he goes to the bank or a restaurant in the village and he "knows everybody."

"I've personally spent an enormous amount of time in the Whistler and Pemberton corridor, I'm there around five months a year, if you add it all up," he says.

"There's a genuine spirit that everyone wants the festival to be a success."

In January, the Pemberton Music Festival contributed $100,000 in grants to 16 arts and social projects and local First Nations communities.

Huka chief executive officer Evan Harrison says they expect a 40 to 50 per cent growth in festival attendees over last year's 115,000 fans over the festival's four days.

He added that by the end of this festival season, they would have brought in $200 million in economic impact to the region.

"What you're seeing now are festivals that form a bond with the audience and create that unparalleled experience in the destination have the staying power," Harrison says.

Asked about the impact of the lower Canadian dollar on a festival that operates and pays performers in U.S. dollars, Harrison says they try to counteract that by making Pemberton a must-attend event, citing the importance of social media and fan participation in video and audio contributions and on Instagram.

"There is not doubt that when you see a country fluctuation, it's a challenge for everybody. That's undeniable," he adds.

"However, we have a unique approach to creating music festivals, where we build an experience and we arm our fans with the opportunity to share that experience."

Huka also announced that tickets are going on sale online on Friday, April 8.

Tickets for the 2016 festival start at $295, plus a choice of either a camping pass (which accommodates up to four people) at $199 or a shuttle pass (for festival patrons staying in nearby Whistler) at $99. For campers who choose to drive, parking passes are available at $29 per car.

To purchase tickets and for more information visit