Girl Talk hardly the only standout at LIVE at Squamish
By Kellen Powell
At Logger Sports Grounds and Hendrickson Fields in Squamish
Things officially kicked off at LIVE at Squamish when everyone started swooning to Stars’ “Elevator Love Letter” as bassist Evan Cranley threw a bouquet of roses into an adoring crowd. The beginning of the day was a little dicier.
Rap-rock act the Proper Villains, the first band to play on the day, took the secondary Garibaldi stage at 3:30 p.m.. To its credit the group was enthusiastic and obviously thrilled to be playing the festival. The crowd was less enthralled. Proper Villains played way too early in the day for the level of energy it was bringing.
She Stole My Beer seemed to have a better grasp of what time it was, perhaps because it has 25 years more experience being a band than Proper Villains. The members of the veteran Vancouver jam unit were the heroes of the early afternoon. Whoever booked a bunch of mellow, stoned, old dudes to play an early slot in a summer festival deserves some props. She Stole My Beer was the right band for the time of day. There were a lot of kids, families and hung-over people at the beginning of the festival, and being able to chill out in the sun without being assaulted by aggressive music went over well with everyone.
Things picked up a little as more LIVE at Squamish attendees arrived, and Sweet Thing did a high-energy set of self-described '50s-influenced pop-rock tunes on the main Stawamus Stage. The crowd was still sparse at this point, but those present welcomed the heightened energy level.
The next band to take the Stawamus stage was Hey Ocean!, and the group completed clicked with the audience. Those that had been at the festival since noon were relieved to see a band with a unique presence. Hey Ocean's! well-honed pop-folk-rock act had the audience invested in the show, and things started to gather momentum from that point. The crowd—which had grown noticeably—erupted when lead singer and flutist Ashleigh Ball invited Canadian rapper Shad on to the stage for a duet.
Although the energy seemed to be steadily building, Day 1 of the festival still seemed slightly mellow for an event of its size. The general consensus on the grounds was that LIVE at Squamish's Sunday lineup was the one to see.
Still, once Stars took the stage, an air of excitement really started to circulate. The band was the first festival attraction with a fan base big enough to create some hype, and no one was let down. When Stars launched into “Dead Hearts” hands were waved in the air and lighters were hoisted. When frontman Torquil Campbell announced that singer Amy Millan's voice was "beautiful—but not as beautiful as her new baby", the crowd erupted in adoration, hoots, and whistles that suggested everyone agreed that babies are indeed beautiful. The veteran Canadian indie rockers successfully brought LIVE at Squamish into what felt like big music festival territory.
After Stars, I went back to the Garibaldi stage to see Andy Clockwork, who’s been a Vancouver house music DJ staple for the past decade. Unfortunately his set was under-attended; it was disappointing to see such a small crowd for a big-room, high-energy act. Still, there was a group of die-hard house music fans that made their way over to check out the set, which didn't go totally unappreciated. As well, Clockwork didn't let the underwhelming attendance affect his set.
Clockwork may have drawn a bigger crowd if people weren't preoccupied with the dance-party titan that was about to go on the main stage 20 minutes later. By the time Girl Talk had started, the festival grounds were fully filled out. A sea of people stood chanting and dancing as the self-described "Not a DJ" blended genre-spanning dance anthems and pop hits. There was, as is standard at Girl Talk's shows, a great number of fans on stage dancing while he played his set. Judging by the looks on some of the faces I saw during his performance, many people were having the night of their lives.
Coming into a festival like LIVE at Squamish you have to expect certain unpleasantries like frat boys, overpriced items, and long bathroom queues. Other than the lineup being stacked for Sunday however, it's safe to say that me, and everyone except for the passed-out girl in the beer garden, had a good time.