As concertgoing experiences, Ambleside Music Festival is one of those one you get excited about long before arriving on site. One of the most insanely beautiful settings in all of the Lower Mainland? Check! A genre-spanning mix of platinum-shifting headliners, wildly loved local favourites, and much-hyped up-and-comers? Bingo.
Come for the Offspring, Mother Mother, Mariana’s Trench, Walk Off the Earth, Grandson, and Hannah Georgas. But don’t miss these four undercard acts, all of which already have excited about next year’s installment of Ambleside Music Festival.
Things don’t always happen overnight in the music industry, which explains Valley forming in Toronto in 2014, flying well under the radar with a couple of early indie EPs, and then seemingly exploding out of nowhere during the pandemic. A Pandemic-ruined 2020 saw the quartet score a Juno nomination for Breakthrough Group of the Year, an the indie-pop glitter bomb that was the sucks to see you doing better EP. This year’s full-length Last Birthday (The After Party) sounds like it carefully crafted for maximum impact on The Peak, which is to say loaded with the kind of summer-sunshine hooks that make you want to turn off the air conditioning, roll down the windows, and hit the Sea to Sky highway with the radio cranked.
Virginia to Vegas
The greatest thing about summer is that, unless your name is Trent Reznor, Anne Rice, or pre-makeover Allison Reynolds, it’s almost impossible to get in touch with your inner saddoe. Who, besides Johnny Cash, Glenn Danzig, and Siouxsie Sioux wants to be wearing black in August. Known to the world as Virginia to Vegas, Derik John Baker first blazed into the pop world with “We Are Stars”, a 2014 dancefloor anthem packed with feel-good lines like “Life is impossible/So believe that you’re unstoppable.” A 2016 full-length, Utopian, mixed rubber-band electro with savvy ruminations on love, lust, and the overwhelming complications that come with relationships. Which is to say that, even if you show up all in black at Ambleside, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to releate to lines like “Oh shit, it feels like you’re getting me high”.
Through a combination of hard work, well-timed breaks, God-given talent, and superior genetics, some people on this Earth seems to accomplish more than others. Enter Montreal’s Charlotte Cardin, who started out life as a model, and then, seemingly effortlessly, shifted into music. After gaining instant attention for a Motown-via-Britol cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”, the 27-year-old released her debut album, Phoenix, last year and then promptly watched it rocket to number one on the Canadian charts. Getting the attention was a mix of urban electro soul, throwback jazz, and atmospheric art-pop. Not to mention inarguably perfect lines like “You told me you love me/I said it back, I didn’t mean it”.
Sometimes things don’t necessarily compute, which is to say that one has to wonder how a city famous for cowboy hats, oil-industry tycoons, and a truly shitkicking stampede could be home to Cartel Madras. The hip-hop sisters duo of Bhagya “Eboshi” Ramesh and Priya “Contra” Ramesh bill themselves as Cowtown finest purveyors of “Goonda Rap” (a term which will make sense to anyone who loves Bollywood’s Agneepath, Nayakan, and Gangs of Wasseypur I and II. On last year’s The Serpent and the Tiger the Ramesh sisters are all manacing double-codiened darkness one minute, and exotic world-music weirdness the next. Which is to say that—based on stereotypes of the city, Calgary doesn’t deserve them. But we certainly do.