The Killers and Florence + the Machine have been announced as the headliners for the inaugural edition of SKOOKUM, a new high-profile multiday festival taking place in Vancouver’s Stanley Park from September 7 to 9.
Other high-wattage talent playing the 20,000-capacity site at Brockton Field includes St. Vincent, Father John Misty, the War on Drugs, Blue Rodeo, Stereophonics, and Bahamas. Representing Vancouver will be local stalwarts Mother Mother, Dear Rouge, Said the Whale, Yukon Blonde, the Zolas, Hey Ocean!, and Little Destroyer.
SKOOKUM was first conceived five years ago by BRANDLIVE, the Vancouver-based promotion company that founded LIVE at Squamish in 2010. That festival grew steadily after an initial year that included the Decemberists, Weezer, and Bad Religion, eventually getting rebranded as Squamish Valley Music Festival after multinational promoter Live Nation became involved as a partner.
Factors such as the low Canadian dollar and the production costs of staging an out-of-town mega-event led to Squamish Valley Music Festival shutting down in early 2016. In the weeks that followed, BRANDLIVE, which had produced Sarah McLachlan at Brockton Fields in 2012, began thinking about a marquee event that music fans wouldn’t have to travel to get to.
“Here we are, a little over two years later, very happily bringing this to the market,” BRANDLIVE festival director Paul Runnals said in a phone interview with the Straight. “We think it’s the right size and certainly it’s the right location. It solves a lot of issues that we were encountering [with Squamish Valley Music Festival]. Camping festivals are very expensive and logistically challenging. They attract a certain segment of music fan, but there’s also that segment that wants to be able to sleep in their own bed at night.”
A deep list of acts also appearing at SKOOKUM includes Buffy Sainte-Marie, Greta Van Fleet, Current Swell, Matt Mays, the Boom Booms, the Belle Game, and Black Pistol Fire. In addition to spotlighting international and local acts on four stages, SKOOKUM will also feature multimedia art installations, pop-up performers, and food from high-profile Vancouver restaurants. On tap will be offerings from B.C.’s booming craft breweries, distillers, and wineries.
“If you look around the city now, the number of great restaurants and little microbreweries and nano-distilleries is incredible, and we wanted to be able to celebrate that,” Runnals said. “We’ve had great relationships for years with local chefs and breweries but logistics prevented them from becoming more involved with Squamish. We dabbled in things like the artist areas, but it was too challenging to operate a remote pop-up restaurant when you’re sending people out of town for the weekend. Now that we’re closer to the city it’s easier—people are really excited about this. There’s a real pent-up appetite, if you’ll pardon the pun.”
To make SKOOKUM happen at Brockton Point, BRANDLIVE approached and began working out details with both the Vancouver Park Board and the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations. Indigenous chefs, artists, and musicians will all be represented over the three-day event, which will also include an educational component.
“That is a shared ancestral territory, so we’re very pleased and quite proud, actually, that we’re bringing something into the market that has a high level of meaningful inclusion, programming, and content that’s going to be Indigenous,” Runnals said.
He added that even though capacity at Brockton Oval far exceeds the 20,000 concertgoers per day that SKOOKUM is hoping to attract, the thinking was to build the festival organically.
“We thought a lot about size and what was appropriate—where did we want to go in terms of capacity and duration?” he said. “We’ve taken a conservative position this first year. We’ve capped—sort of self-limited, if you will—the attendance to 20,000 a day. We’re doing a soft opening on Friday so we’re not programming the main stage, which is deliberate. We want to ease into the weekend and stay ahead of any challenges of getting people in and out of the park and that sort of thing. Obviously, over time, year after year, we’ll look to incrementally creep up that attendance number if everyone is on board with it and we can stay ahead of any issues.”
Tickets for the innaugural SKOOKUM festival go on sale Wednesday (March 14) at 10 a.m.
For the complete SKOOKUM lineup and more information, go to www.skookumfestival.com/.More