Day two of Rock the Shores 2016 saw slightly higher temperatures than Friday’s 7 Mile Social, so it was time once again to break out the tank tops and sunscreen (and for the festival crew to erect the mist tent). Saturday’s lineup of top notch talent packed in a larger crowd as well, with close to 8,000 music fans of all ages staking claim to their patches of grass on the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre lower fields.
Folks arriving early were treated to an inspired performance from up-and-coming local artist Fintan O’Brien. Long part of the accomplished O’Brien Family band with his father Paul and siblings Cormac and Millie, 19-year-old Fintan has struck out on his own, showing some serious singer/songwriter chops. His mellow, folksy pop and innate charm struck a cord with the small crowd that gathered for his performance.
On deck was Year of the Wolf. Hot on the heels of their opening performance at this year’s Tall Tree Festival – a gig they booked after winning a battle-of-the-bands style competition on a barge at Ogden Point – the Vancouver quartet shared their authentic brand of alt rock, and although they didn’t quite generate a Reignwolf-circa-2013 level of excitement, we can mark their set down as yet another successful wolf-related RTS performance.
Edmonton’s Royal Tusk brought their renegade style of prairie rock to the stage next, complete with a mammoth dose of heavy guitar and blue-collar soul. They showcased several songs off their debut full-length album DealBreaker, which was released in May.
As if the sunshine wasn’t hot enough, Vancouver’s Dear Rouge took to the stage and immediately set it ablaze. The group, led by husband and wife due Danielle and Drew McTaggart, captivated the crowd with their electronic dance-rock sound, inviting everyone to join in on the “do it, do it, do it” chorus of the hit “I Heard I Had” from their 2015 album Black to Gold, which ultimately netted them a Juno award for Breakthrough Group of the Year. As they continued to heat things up on stage, the RTS crew kept everyone cool by hosing us down from a boom lift high above the crowd.
Fans seeking a nostalgic moment at this year’s Rock the Shores needed to look no further than Big Wreck’s set. Fronted by Ian Thornley, who some have likened (for good reason) to a Canadian Chris Cornell, the band received an enthusiastic reception from the West Shore crowd, with many of the age 30+ concertgoers harkening back to the halcyon days of the late 90s. Although the band played several songs from the two albums they’ve release since reforming in 2012, fans were most excited to hear their favourite tracks from 1997’s In Loving Memory Of, including “That Song”, “The Oaf (My Luck is Wasted)”, and “Blown Wide Open”.
Vancouver-spawned power pop collective The New Pornographers carried the crowd’s momentum into their set, bringing a bombastic blast of exuberant indie rock to the early evening soundscape, and setting the stage for a couple more memorable performances to close out Saturday night.
First, it was time for The Cat Empire. And much like Jesse Roper did in the same timeslot on Friday night, the Australian ska veterans delivered arguably the most high-energy performance of the day. Fusing musical styles and flitting across genres, from reggae to jazz to Latin, the band, fronted by Felix Reibl (percussion/vocals) and Harry James Angus (trumpet/vocals), had the crowd jumping and jiving throughout. These cool cats proved they are indeed the ultimate party band.
Closing things out was fan favourite Dallas Green, better known as the eponymous City and Colour. Green, who performed at RTS previously in 2013, is a talented crooner who combines his soulful voice with an often melancholic, down tempo strain of indie rock that invites a swaying-with-an-arm-around-your-loved-one type vibe. It was a nice comedown from the raucous performances that preceded it, sending fans home with a certain sense of fulfillment and a fresh perspective.
Next up: RTS Sunday, featuring Eagles of Death Metal, Arkells and Metric.