The day two lineup at Phillips Backyard Weekender featured headlining act CAKE, who were expected to draw the largest crowd of the festival. Spoiler alert: they did. But first, other stuff happened—like a full slate of diverse musical offerings on both the Phillips Backyard stage and the new Do250 stage at ANIÁN Yard.
Things kicked off at 1:30 on Saturday afternoon with a performance from enigmatic local act Kermode. Fronted by local music industry type Colin McTaggart, Kermode bears the (inscrutable in 2017) characteristic of featuring no recorded music or web presence of any kind. This means every live appearance is a unique ephemeral experience to be shared by everyone present, which Rocktographers own Kirsten James Creative thinks is “pretty cool, man”. And hey, who knows, if you’re lucky maybe you get a Vince Vaccarro feature (OK not maybe, it happened).
Next up was Victoria folk collective Electric Timber Company, which features a veritable who’s-who of the local scene. Fronted by singers Danielle Sweeney from Lovecoast and Renn Madeleine Bibeau of Fox Glove, along with Mike Roma on vocals and lead guitar, Electric Timber Co. kept the mellow summer vibes going with a set full of soulful blues and country tunes. People have dubbed their style “Westcoast Soulgrass”, which I reckon sounds about right.
Over at ANIÁN Yard the Do250 stage showcased a full squad of emerging artists throughout the day, including Whistler’s Lazy Ghost, a couple of female-fronted Victoria bands—indie darlings Wise Child and roots rock group Violet—as well as local psych-pop quintet Cartoon Lizard and Salt Spring Island folk rockers Barefoot Thieves.
Sandwiched in the middle of the main stage schedule were the two acts also slated for the festival’s second night official after party at Sugar Nightclub: Victoria’s own pop rock vets Fortune Killers and Vancouver’s gritty synth-rock outfit Little Destroyer. Fortune Killers lead singer/keyboardist Felicia Harding delivered a spirited performance while Little Destroyer’s Allie Sheldan (back by brothers Chris and Michael Weiss) commanded the stage with a raw intensity that strayed from the more relaxed summer bubble we’d all been in up to that point. But it was just the wake up call we all needed in order to prepare for what was to come.
That’s right, The One and Only PPL MVR were back in Victoria! I mean, you gotta admire the work ethic here. These guys travel around playing summer music festivals in what I can only imagine are oppressively hot Sasquatch and Yeti suits. That’s called committing to the bit. And while the crazy costumes and auto-tuned growling may be a bit gimmicky, you can’t deny the inherent entertainment value of it all. And you also understand the palpable anger that’s felt when a Yeti’s headset mic isn’t working for the first two songs. “Snowball is mad!”
As mentioned earlier, we were expecting a large crowd for CAKE. And as the evening’s sub-headliner Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe administered an extended dose of funky jazz flute and sexy tenor sax, attendees continued to file in through the gates, causing the lines for beer, food and bathrooms to max out. By the time CAKE hit the stage, the place was definitely at capacity. The Sacramento pop rock vets treated the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd to an eclectic set from their expansive library, peppered, of course, with the droll banter of lead singer John McCrea, including a running bit about giving away a live tree that he’d brought on stage. You kinda had to be there.