Jam-packed lineup of music and arts during WSSF 

Pique's guide to all the cultural happenings at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JASON BRINKMAN/COURTESY OF WSSF - FEELING THE FUNK Five Alarm Funk playing the 2018 World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
  • Photo by Jason Brinkman/Courtesy of WSSF
  • FEELING THE FUNK Five Alarm Funk playing the 2018 World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

For Kristen Robinson, or KR as she is best known, the 2019 edition of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF) represents something of a full circle for the longtime event producer.

KR cut her teeth at WSSF, working as a producer between 1996 and 2002. This year, she is heading the arts and culture program, and just like back in the festival's late-'90s heyday, her focus sits squarely on the grassroots, local vibe that WSSF became known for over the years.

"(The goal) is to make sure that the five and a half days are action packed and that there really is a strong integration of sport, art, music and mountain culture," she says.

Robinson has brought in several local producers in 2019 to helm events that they have long histories in, such as Ryan Proctor, who is heading Intersection this year after serving as a judge at its inaugural edition nine years ago, and Angie Nolan, who takes over the 72hr Filmmaker Showdown after competing in it as a filmmaker 11 times and winning the grand prize in 2016.

"What's unique this year is being able to bring in someone like Angie Nolan, who has participated in (the event) for so many years and has this great affection ... for the program and is now coming in as a producer," Robinson says.

This year will also see the return of a music mainstage to Skier's Plaza, dubbed the "Slope Side Stage," after organizers decided to spread the musical acts to various venues around the resort at the 2018 event.

"It's really about getting back to the roots of the integration of the pillars (of the festival)," Robinson says of the mainstage.

The free outdoor concerts are also being scheduled for the après hours in lieu of the evening shows of years past.

This is the second year in a row that WSSF will run as a condensed version—it was 10 days in 2017, the last year under longtime producer Watermark Communications. Notably, Gibbons Whistler will not return this year to split production duties with Whistler Blackcomb's in-house producer, Crankworx Events Inc.

With a jam-packed schedule, there's plenty to take in during WSSF, set for April 9 to 14. Here is Pique's rundown of each arts and culture event on the bill.

April 9

Stay Human film screening and acoustic set by Michael Franti

Whistler Conference Centre. 8 p.m. $30

Whistler favourite and frequent visitor Michael Franti and his band Spearhead will be headlining WSSF's music offerings this year, but before his free show at Olympic Plaza, the activist and filmmaker will be kicking off the festival with a screening of his new documentary, Stay Human.

That will be followed by a Q-and-A and intimate acoustic set by Franti.

April 10

ART+Soul

Whistler Conference Centre. April 10-14. 12-6 p.m. Free to attend

More than 40 artists will showcase their work at WSSF's main visual arts event, which runs from April 10 to 14. Programmed by beloved local DJ Ace Mackay-Smith, ART+Soul celebrates "the rebels and free-thinkers who portray their work in gritty and thought-provoking mediums," according to the WSSF website.

The event is free to attend with numerous artworks available for purchase.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids

Skier's Plaza. 3 p.m. Free

The Snotty Nose Rez Kids have earned a tremendous amount of buzz over the past year. Hailing from the Haisla First Nation, Yung Trybez and Young D blend trap beats with raw lyricism that challenges Indigenous stereotypes. (See page 69 for related story.)

The rap group first caught Robinson's eye when they were in town last year for the Whistler Film Festival's Music Showcase.

"They blew me away," she says. "Since then, they've been nominated for a Juno and they've got a new record coming out. They're really great people and we're excited to bring them back."

Michael Franti & Spearhead

Skier's Plaza. 4 p.m. Free

A fixture of the resort's concert stages over the years, Michael Franti brings his live show and positive message of change to Skier's Plaza. The eclectic singer-songwriter's latest album, Stay Human Vol. II, was released in January.

Multiplicity

Whistler Conference Centre. 8 p.m. $30

Called the "most inspiring night of the year" by attendees, Multiplicity is a multimedia visual feast bringing together six speakers from the mountain world. Presented by Mountain Life Media, this year's speakers are: big-wave surfer Greg Long; cross-Africa explorer Mario Rigby; pro skier and brain injury survivor Jamie Mocrazy; former soccer superstar and Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit; adventure photographer Zoya Lynch; pro skier Izzy Lynch; and avalanche survivor Jon Turk.

April 11

Old Soul Rebel

Skier's Plaza. 3 p.m. Free

Fresh off their turn as finalists in the hit CTV music competition, The Launch, Vancouver's Old Soul Rebel, made up of core members Chelsea Johnson and Lola Whyte, bring a fresh lens to modern rock, with a repertoire inspired by their respective First Nations and African-American upbringings.

"That's an example of a really hardworking Canadian band and just really seeing that pay off with The Launch and their touring schedule just exploding," Robinson notes.

Little Destroyer

Skier's Plaza. 4 p.m. Free

Little Destroyer have been turning heads with their bold take on electronica, playing loud, "dissonant grunge pop anthems," according to WSSF. The Vancouver three-piece brings their intimate yet powerful sound to Skier's Plaza on the festival's third day.

Pro Photographer Showdown

Whistler Conference Centre. 8 p.m. $30

Always a hot ticket, the Pro Photographer Showdown returns to shine a light on some of the top action-sports shooters in the game. Four invited photographers—plus a wildcard entry—compile a slideshow of their life's work, while a panel of judges will select the winner of the $10,000 grand prize.

Entrants this year are Ale Di Lullo, Robin O'Neill, Tal Roberts, Zak Noyle and Marcus Paladino.

April 12

Skratch Bastid

Skier's Plaza. 3 p.m. Free

World champion battle DJ Skratch Bastid is one of Canada's premier names on the ones and twos. Known for spinning a diversity of genres, Skratch Bastid, a.k.a. Paul Murphy, has performed in more than 30 countries alongside the likes of DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Premier and Just Blaze.

72hr Filmmaker Showdown

Whistler Conference Centre. 8 p.m. $30

Angie Nolan has seen and done it all at the 72hr Filmmaker Showdown, a race against the clock to shoot, edit and produce a short film in just three days. This year Nolan moves from behind the camera to behind the scenes, and to hear her tell it, she feels your pain, fellow filmmakers. "I think that's what I can bring to the table: An understanding of what they're going through and the pain at every step. I can relate," she says.

Notable this year is the loss of longtime title sponsor, Olympus, which provided camera gear to competing film crews free of charge. But given Nolan's connection to the local film scene, she says that she can help any crews looking for gear or support.

Participating teams will vie for $7,000 in prizing. Although the deadline to apply has passed, Nolan welcomes any interested teams that have not signed up to show up at the conference centre on the first day of shooting, Friday, April 5, at 10 a.m. with the $50 registration fee in hand.

April 13

Mat the Alien. Skier's Plaza. 3 p.m. Free

The Whistler club scene's prodigal son returns to the resort where he made his name. With a penchant for booming beats across a variety of genres, Mat the Alien's stature has only grown since becoming Monster Energy's official DJ and holding down a residency in Las Vegas.

Intersection

Whistler Conference Centre. 8 p.m. $30

Similar in concept to the 72hr Filmmaker Showdown, Intersection invites six snow-sport fimmaking crews to shoot, produce and edit a five-to-seven-minute ski and/or snowboard film in just a week. All the footage is required to be shot within 100 kilometres of Whistler, and each film must contain at least 30 seconds of both terrain park and in-bounds Whistler Blackcomb footage.

Judges will select the winning slideshow and the recipient of the $10,000 grand prize.

"Intersection really hones in on what Whistler and this valley is all about: resort skiing, backcountry skiing, sledding, terrain parks—what everyone comes here to do, really," says Proctor.

April 14

MarchFourth

Skier's Plaza. 3 p.m. Free

Closing out WSSF is the renowned Portland, Ore. marching band, MarchFourth. Blending funk, rock and jazz into a colourful, circus-inspired live show featuring everything from stilt walkers, hula hoopers and Vaudeville-style dancers, MarchFourth is so much more than just a live concert, it's an experience.

For more info on WSSF's full lineup of events, and to buy tickets, visit wssf.com.

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