It was back to the Backyard for the third and final day of Phillips Backyard Weekender 2017, and with a good portion of the crowd starting their day at Victoria’s Pride parade and associated festivities, it ended up being a sun-dappled, rainbow-tinted Sunday fun-day for the ages.
With an earlier curfew on Sunday night, the day’s program kicked off at the main stage at 1:00 pm sharp with local electronic artists Distant Grand. Jess Brown and Manj Benning cruised into the festival on their bikes, and hopped on stage to perform a signature #SexySad set, offering a sultry, ambient backdrop for the scant group of early birds in attendance.
The crowd grew a bit by the time Victoria’s 20ish-piece horn ensemble The Brass hit the stage. A non-auditioned community collective, the group is conducted by Julia Knight, who also acted as MC for the performance, ably vamping between songs while her horn players took much-need “chop breaks”. The band covered an array of popular crowd-pleasers, including tracks from Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, A Tribe Call Quest, and Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind”. Good times. And guys, they are looking for saxophone players!
Things really started to pick up around 3:00 pm with a performance from local legend Vince Vaccaro. The folk rock vet often performs with a full band, but on Sunday it was a simple acoustic set—just a man and his guitar, playing tunes and sharing stories. Vaccaro is a thoughtful and talented songwriter, sort of our own Island Springsteen, and his connection with the crowd (including a few superfans) was as intimate as ever.
Over at the Backyard Picnic-er at ANIÁN Yard, Do250 showcased another group of talented regional musicians throughout the day, including Kyle Vaughan (of Vancouver’s Year of the Wolf), local DJ Mt. Doyle, roots/country band Dirty Mountain, funk collective The New Souls, Vancouver-based one-man-band Alex Maher, and blues rocker David Ward.
Festival-goers were treated to some international flair with a main stage performance by the all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache (pronounced “toh-loh-ah-chay”). The group is based out of New York City, but its members claim a diverse Latino heritage with roots in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Adorned in traditional mariachi costume, the group featured Mireya Ramos on violin, Shae Fiol on vihuela, Julie Acosta on trumpet, and Eunice Aparicio on guitarrón. These talented ladies showcased their strong musicianship, as well as some beautiful harmonies, with Ramos and Fiol in particular showing off their especially fierce vocal chops.
And speaking of vocal chops, the man with the golden voice, the virtuoso of blue-eyed soul himself, Allen Stone made his first appearance in Victoria. Backed by a talented and funky as hell band, Stone, our Pacific Northwest brethren from eastern Washington State, proceeded to bring the house down with a powerhouse performance of his soulful original songs, as well as inspired covers of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” and “Tell Me Something Good” by Rufus and Chaka Khan. The show was unfailingly fun and interactive, for as talented as Stone is as a musician, his complete lack of ego and pretense makes him a wholly likeable character. He definitely earned a new legion of fans this weekend.
Rounding out the revelry were local indie rock icons Current Swell. The veteran group continues to grow in popularity—this is their last show before heading off on tour across the U.S. in late July/August and Europe in September—but their well-established local following means they’re always a big draw. They served as headliners for Atomique’s Seven Mile Social at Rock the Shores 2016, and they were back in a headlining role Sunday night at Phillips. Their performance was as tight as ever, and the crowd was totally enraptured, jubilantly chanting their “na-na-nas” on “Keys to the Kingdom”. It was a fitting end to a fantastic weekend.