Spring is a special time of the year. Not only is it famed for cherry blossom, inconvenient showers, and making us question whether to dress in a toque or flip-flops, the season is paramount for its role in the music festival calendar. With lineups finalized and artist announcements dominating headlines, April and May are the perfect time to spend some hard-earned cash on sought-after tickets.
A quick glance at the lists of performers confirms the mighty influence of electronic music—a genre so pervasive you’ll be hard-pushed to find any festival bill without it. But while major events are typically indiscriminate about styles, booking rap artists alongside indie musicians and EDM DJs, a number of B.C. festivals are slated to showcase nothing but electronic acts. Spanning a huge array of performers from bass music to big-room to underground turntablists, these five selections offer curated electronic-only lineups that are only a short car-ride away.
1000 Midday Valley Road, Merritt
From humble origins in the Squamish Valley, Bass Coast has grown from a small gathering to a full-scale four-day event in the B.C. interior. Founded by two enterprising women, the festival has an entirely DIY ethic with no sponsors or corporate influence—and, as well as promoting the artists rather than multinational companies, that choice doesn’t stop Bass Coast from being visually and aurally stunning. Focusing as much on the stellar lineup as its art instillations, the festival was created with the founding principles of Burning Man in mind, with a focus on artistic innovation and personal freedom. Repping a host of different underground styles in its lineup, Bass Coast is a festival that might not feature huge names, but spotlights huge talent. Which, given that the festival always sells out, is hardly surprising.
Salmo River Ranch, Nelson
Not just one of B.C.’s leading electronic festivals but one of its largest festivals, period, Shambhala transforms a remote ranch into the biggest city in the West Kootenays for five days. Erecting six uniquely themed stages for the 10,000 attendees, the festival attracts internationally-renowned artists—including Adventure Club and Chris Lorenzo—and offers a beautiful setting to check out local favourites POMO (of Anderson .Paak fame) and Ekali (whose production featured on Drake’s Views). Promising to offer what will likely be the largest stack of PK Sound bassbins on the West Coast, Shambhala showcases mainstream and underground acts with serious sound clarity.
Cheam Fishing Village, Agassiz
Gaining notoriety last year for struggling to get the required permits, Electric Love is back—legally—in its beautiful home of Cheam Fishing Village for 2017. Four stages are in place for the festival, which focus on showcasing quality performers over big name draws. House and techno artists have a strong presence on the bill, with everything from jazz-electronic to aggressive big-room beats also making an appearance. As well as banning all illegal substances from the site, Electric Love also prohibits the consumption of alcohol—making the festival a paragon of good, clean partying. If you think it’s not possible to have fun without getting drunk—well, we recommend you check this one out.
Beaverfoot Lodge, Golden
With phase one of its lineup announced, dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass artists take centre stage at Motion Notion. Booking Datsik and Dirtyphonics alongside Skrillex-signed Koan Sound and M Machine, the event is the most commercial electronic-music-only festival in B.C. this year. As well as designing three stages—which more closely resemble art pieces, with one made from bamboo and another reminiscent of a giant clamshell—the event offers the chance for attendees to set up their own ‘indie stages’ to showcase their talents on the decks, giving individuals and crews the opportunity to program lineups and collaborate with other musicians. Workshops are also on offer, with introductions to hula hooping, guided meditation, and the art of incense-making on the bill, giving Motion Notion a DIY edge despite its star-studded roster.
Big Springs Campground, Lake Koocanusa
The furthest afield of our picks, FozzyFest is worth the drive. A boutique beach-based festival held in the B.C. Rockies, the event is completely volunteer-driven, and is entirely not-for-profit. Which basically means that the organizers’ sole purpose is to create the most exciting festival possible. Two main stages make the most of the natural setting, with one right on the sand and another in the forest, and all beverage and food vendors are present on-site to offer a 3 a.m. snack. Alongside the music, a number of workshops are scheduled, with the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with other creatively-minded festival-goers. Focusing on the event’s vibe as much as the lineup, FozzyFest is a hippie’s paradise, encouraging people to smile, dance, create, and ‘get on the same wavelength.’
Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays