Let’s face it: you’re not going to see any stars in Vancouver. Oh, sure, every once in a while you’ll spot Ryan Reynolds in a Starbucks or see Seth Rogen at a Nine Inch Nails concert at Rogers Arena. But that’s not the kind of star we mean. Thanks to light pollution, the only way you’re going to see Cassiopeia or Ursa Minor in this city is by going to a planetarium show at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
That’s why we recommend decamping to the mountains this weekend—specifically, up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to take in the Squamish Constellation Festival. This isn’t an astronomical event, mind you, but a musical one. Nonetheless, you’ll have plenty of opportunity for stargazing in between sets by Bahamas, Serena Ryder, Wintersleep, and the choice acts listed below.
The Squamish Constellation Festival takes place Friday through Sunday (July 26 to 28) at Hendrickson Field. Visit the Constellation Festival website for the full lineup. And don’t forget your telescope.
Creative BC Stage at 5:50 p.m. on Friday
The list of acts that Parker Bossley has played or collaborated with reads like a who’s who of the local music scene and includes Gay Nineties, Hot Hot Heat, Mounties, Blonde Diamond, and Sleepy Tom. Turns out Bossley has his own solo thing going on as well, and although he has released a mere two songs to date, they are both shimmering indie-pop bangers that will leave you hungry for more. Given the unlikelihood of Bossley stretching “Lifted” and “Chemicals” out into a full set, we’re guessing that he has a few more killer tunes up his sleeve.
The Jerry Cans
Creative BC Stage at 6:35 p.m. on Sunday
The Jerry Cans have been gaining recognition across Canada for their unique blend of rock music and Inuit throat singing native to their hometown of Iqaluit, Nunavut. Inuk vocalist and accordionist Nancy Mike, and her husband, Andrew Morrison, strongly believe in the importance of a popular band singing in an Indigenous language and shattering misconceptions about the North with its lyrics.
Half Moon Run
Main Stage at 7:20 p.m. on Sunday
As every Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor fan knows, all the coolest bands call Montreal home. Half Moon Run continues the tradition of West Coasters fleeing ever-unaffordable B.C. for a city where rent is cheap and the underground music scene is as fertile as it is adventurous. Featuring Vancouver Island expat Conner Molander, the quartet has built a rabid following in its adopted home with a sound covering everything from Dixieland-tinted chamber folk to Americana-spiked paisley pop. Expect Half Moon Run to get extra out-there at Constellation—the band’s been slowly slaving away on a long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Sun Leads Me On. That delay, not to mention the prospect of coming back to the coast, should make Molander and company extra-stoked about getting out of the studio and playing live.
The Sunset Kids
Creative BC Stage at 4:50 p.m. on Saturday
Russian transplant Ellaya Zampieri and Saskatchewan-born Josh Palmer—whom you might remember from the third season of Canadian Idol (or maybe not)—create the sort of shiny electro-pop that seems to be made for summer afternoons. Their impeccable vocal harmonies are the cherry on the proverbial sonic sundae. Check out their YouTube channel and you’ll see that someone is spending a pretty penny on their videos; the “someone” in question is 604 Records.
Main Stage at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday
Headlining the fest as one of the most in-demand pop songwriters at the moment, Jessie Reyez has recently worked with Calvin Harris and Eminem and been co-signed by the likes of Elton John and Steven Tyler. With a raspy and deeply emotional vocal delivery, her own songs deal with intense and personal topics—including the powerful #MeToo movement track “Gatekeeper”. That kind of conviction promises a long career ahead.
Main Stage at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday
One of the greatest things about all-day musical smorgasbords like Constellation is that you inevitably have one or two major revelations. On that front, get ready to discover your new favourite artist, Begonia. Known to her mom as Alexa Dirks, the Winnipeg-based singer possesses a powerhouse voice that puts her in the same corner of the after-hours speakeasy as Nina Simone and Jimmy Scott. Think dark-hued synth-pop at it most dramatically soulful, which explains why she’s been hailed as a talent on the verge of breaking big-time by everyone from NPR to the CBC. Check out “Out of My Head” on YouTube for a taste of what to expect. On second thought, don’t. Sometimes the most beautiful way to fall in love is when you least expect it.