Often, the best part of a festival isn’t seeing your favourite bands, but finding new favourites. The thrill of discovery is one thing, but the payoff comes when all your friends start talking about some hot new artist and you can say “Oh, those guys? Saw them play six months ago.”
Here, as chosen by the Straight, are five must-see up-and-coming acts playing this year’s Squamish Valley Music Festival, taking place August 9 and 10 at Hendrickson Fields & Logger Sports Ground.
Place of Origin: Vancouver
Slot Under: Golden-hued classic country-rock
Sometimes it’s hard not to resent the baby boomers, mostly because they got to have all the fun. As if getting to see the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and the Who in their prime wasn’t great enough, the good times didn’t stop in the ’70s. From what we’ve seen in pictures, the Have a Nice Day Decade was all golden California sunsets, warm summer breezes, and platinum-standard classic rock. Mad props to with-a-bullet up-and-comersthe Matinée for taking up back to a time that most of us never knew, the group’s self-assured debut release, We Swore We’d Never See the Sunrise, made for a C-90 mixed tape that starts with Neil Young and ends with Tom Petty. High-praise, no matter how much you might be in love with album standouts like “Young & Lazy” and “Sweetwater”? Damn straight, to the point where you have to wonder how the hell Sub Pop managed to nail down Fleet Foxes and yet somehow let these guys slip through its claws.
Fitz and the Tantrums
Place of Origin: Los Angeles
Slot under: Blond-haired, blue-eyed soul
Fitz and the Tantrums isn’t totally a household name yet, but chances are good you’ve heard of some of the acts that bandleader Michael Fitzpatrick has been known to run with. Before stepping in front of the mike, the sharp-dressed bandleader was an in-demand studio whiz, working with heavyweights such as Beck. Like everyone’s favourite “Loser”, Fitzpatrick has proven something of a mash-up specialist, with Fitz and the Tantrums setting La-La-Land clubs on fire with a cocktail of ’70s pop, vintage hip-hop, and, of course, sex-machine soul. More importantly, the frontman has twigged into the fact that no one wants to see you stand on-stage like a cryogenically frozen statue of Van Morrison; people want a show, which explains how Fitzpatrick has made an effortless transition from faceless studio dude to entirely believable soul-man. It doesn’t matter if you’re whiter than a cross between Stoya and Casper the Friendly Ghost—you will dance.
Place of Origin: Toronto
Slot under: Indie pop, synth pop, electro pop, and other things with pop in them
With his platinum quiff and rainbow-hued eyeshadow, John O’Regan seems to take some of his style cues from glam-era David Bowie. The Toronto-based musician also known as Diamond Rings has a serious love of sports-team uniforms, too, which makes things a little more confusing, visually. No matter what he shows up at Squamish decked out in, though, you can be sure he’ll accessorize it with killer hooks, jaw-dropping vocal prowess, and a sort of unapologetically androgynous stage presence that’ll get boys and girls alike hot and bothered. And what should you, the audience member, be wearing? Considering that we’re talking about Squamish in August, you might want to think about finding one of those hats with the built-in umbrellas to keep the sun off.
Place of Origin: Los Angeles
Slot under: Pared-down blues raunch for bass haters
There’s a great, fast-rising rawk duo out there featuring two talented women—one a hard-pounding drummer, the other a guitarist with a big, bluesy yowl. But enough about the Pack a.d. Just kidding! L.A.’s Deap Vally does bear a superficial resemblance to the pride of East Van, but the duo of Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards sounds more like Karen O. fronting the Black Keys, only leaner, hungrier, and scuzzbucketier. That’s right: scuzzbucketier. Hey, if they can get away with calling their band Deap Vally, we reserve the right to describe its music using made-up words. Oh, and guitar freaks take note: Troy’s soul-searing licks just might make you wonder whatever the hell you saw in that six-string hack Jack White.
Place of Origin: Kelowna
Slot under: Sunny sing-along retro rock
Yukon Blonde is already filling Vancouver venues like the Commodore, but the rest of the continent is catching onto the Okanagan-spawned outfit too, following the band’s high-profile appearances at festivals including SXSW and CMJ. The hometown heroes’ 2012 album Tiger Talk also happens to make for ideal driving-with-the-top-down summer rock, especially the bittersweet homesick-on-the-road anthem “Stairway” and the infectious sing-along, “My Girl”. If you’ve ever caught Yukon Blonde’s killer live show, chances are you still have the latter song’s “woo-oh-oh” chorus stuck in your head. If not, get your vocal cords ready to join in. Wearing a kitschy T-shirt with an airbrushed tiger on it is optional, but it’s a totally awesome idea. You’re welcome.