A few scattered showers proved nowhere near enough to dampen spirits on day two of Rifflandia. Following Thursday night’s official opening at several of the festival’s night stages, on Friday it was time to throw open the gates at the main venue, Royal Athletic Park.
Fans who arrived early were treated to stellar performances from local live beat guru and master of the midi controller Grossbuster, Colombian electro tropical band Bomba Estéreo (who also performed later in the evening at Phillips Backyard), and Keswick, Ontario indie rockers The Elwins.
Ithaca, New York band X Ambassadors proved they are much more than one-hit commercial wonders, wowing the crowd with superb musicianship, including some surprise saxophone work from lead singer Sam Harris.
Park headliners Michael Franti & Spearhead delivered a ray of virtual sunshine with their upbeat performance. Franti engaged with concertgoers quite literally, bringing one lucky fan on stage early on and then immersing himself with the masses as he moved to a satellite stage in the centre of the crowd for several songs.
Following the park performances, the options for night stages expanded even further on Friday, resulting in a lot of festival-goers hustling around between 13 different stages (plus Yuk Yuk’s for Lafflandia) and making last-minute decisions about how to divide up their time. Rocktographers fanned out for maximum coverage, checking out hip hop duo Pigeon Hole at Phillips Backyard, indie band Groenland and progressive rock outfit We Are the City at Sugar Nightclub, upstart rapper Hermit at Wood Hall, hard rockers Malahat at ANIÁN Yard, late 90s nostalgia act Prozzäk at Capital Iron, trap/hip hop instrumental trio Keys N Krates at Phillips, and finally back to Sugar for a late-night set from local favourite Vince Vaccaro.
Rifflandia day three gets going early Saturday afternoon. Heavier rain is in the forecast, so break out your ponchos, ‘cause it could be a wet one.