Rocktographers wants you to kick off your Rifflandia right. With over 150 artists playing over 20 stages, there is the proverbial “something for everyone,” but we’ll be your guide to some of the (often hidden) gems to be discovered in such a huge festival.

Decisions are hard and that’s why Rocktographers is here to help you. Here’s who to see at Rifflandia 2016 on ThursdayFridaySaturday, and Sunday.

Here are our picks for Friday, September 16.


3:30PM, Friday, 16th
Rifftop Tent

He’s not a DJ. He’s more of a . . . a musical construction worker. Grossbuster loads samples into his 16-pad Native Instruments sampler, and triggers them on the beat, in sequence, to create a complete song out of raw parts, live. To watch him work (as we did at Otalith 2015) is fascinating, because he’s basically playing songs part-by-part. It’s likely that his raw musical talent may be lost behind a label, but his music is infectious and uncommon regardless.

Bomba Estéreo

4:15PM, Friday, 16th
Royal Athletic Park

10:00PM, Friday, 16th
Phillips Backyard

Colombia’s premiere electro tropical band, Bomba Estéreo is set to invade Rifflandia with their catchy dance vibes with two performances on Friday. The first at Royal Athletic Park and the second later that evening at Phillips Backyard. While the band only performs their songs in Spanish we don’t think that’s going to stop people the from partying down during their set. Oh, and look for dancers on stage and over the top costume changes.

The Elwins

5:00PM, Friday, 16
Rifftop Tent

What can we say about this absolute bunch of dads. The last time these Ontario natives were in Victoria they were tapped to open for Rich Aucoin – that should tell you a lot about their live show. Imagine high-energy, high-kicking, high-fiving fun. The Elwins take the best bits of pop and rock music from the past five decades, and deliver a dose of dancy bliss that appeals to virtually anyone. When you hazily look back to pinpoint the moment your Friday blasted off, you’ll likely remember the Elwins.

X Ambassadors

5:45PM, Friday, 16th
Royal Athletic Park Main Stage

You’ve probably heard these guys before. Their track Renegades virtually blew up in 2015 and was even featured in a Jeep commercial. Boasting infectious songs and an energetic and dynamic live show, these guys will be the highlight of Friday at the Park, we’re sure of it. (Why aren’t they headlining?)

Pigeon Hole

9:00PM, Friday, 16th
Phillips Backyard

Merging captivating visuals with a high-energy show, this hip hop/producer duo hailing from right here in Victoria is not to be missed. Pigeon Hole pull elements from west coast rap, trap, dancehall and bass music to shape their unique sound. Returning to the Phillips Backyard again this year, they’ll have the place thumping and you dancing from start to finish.

**Note Miami Nights 1984 has been moved to Saturday**

Fintan O’Brien

9:30PM, Friday, 16
Northern Quarter

Fintan O’Brien is starting to blow up in the Victoria music scene. He’s recently finished a residency at The Mint, and performing at this years’ Rock The Shores. He’s been writing since he was ten years old, and his songs have been enthusing audiences from the streets of Victoria (where Fintan started performing as a busker) to the Vancouver Island Music Festival (where he performed with his family as The O’Brien Family).

We Were Lovers

10:30PM, Friday, 16th
Metro Theatre

Saskatoon duo We Were Lovers bring their experimental electropop vibe to Metro Theatre for a Friday night trance party. Guitarist Ash Lamothe and lead vocalist Elsa Gebremichael deftly combine dynamic 80s-inspired synths with atmospheric riffs, and are known for their high energy live shows. We Were Lovers is a group on the rise, having recently opened for the likes of Metric, Tegan and Sara, and Janelle Monae, but act fast and you can still get in on the ground floor.

We Are The City

10:30PM, Friday, 16th
Sugar Nightclub

This dynamic trio has been a staple in the BC music scene ever since they won the very first Peak Performance Project. Also known for their amazing music videos (and indie film!) as well as publicity stunts (did you see their 24/7 recording process last fall?), We Are The City are flying high and touring worldwide after the release of their latest album, Above Club, back in November 2015. We can’t wait to see them return to Victoria in a big room at Sugar Nightclub, after their packed show at Lucky Bar a few months back.


11:00PM, Friday, 17th
Capital Iron

Your ticket straight back to 1998 nostalgia with the animated duo of Simon and Milo – a simpler time before smart phones, when MuchMusic still played music videos, and people still used to say the “double-u, double-u, double-u, dot” before the name of the website. Originally members of The Philosopher Kings, Jay Levine (Simon) and James Bryan McCollum (Milo), banded together to create the pop-powerhouse known as Prozzäk – delivering music that makes people feel good and happy, also a side effect of the drug the band is named after. The band only ever did one proper tour, in 2000, now sixteen years later they’re ready to make Rifflandian’s feel good and happy for a night to remember.

Vince Vaccaro

12:30AM, Friday, 16th
Sugar Nightclub

Backed by an all-star band of who’s who in the BC music scene, Vince Vaccaro will be bringing his A-game to the Sugar Nightclub stage once again. His effortless blend of west coast rock balances perfectly with quiet intimate moments, making for a show that’s not to be missed. Get there early, as we expect the venue to be jam packed from front to back.

Keys N Krates

11:00PM, Friday, 16th
Phillips Backyard

Toronto instrumental electronic/hip hop trio Keys N Krates make a triumphant return to Rifflandia, closing out the Phillips Backyard stage on Friday night. Drummer Adam Tune, keyboardist David Matisse and turntablist Jr. Flo made waves with their 2014 performance at the Rifftop Tent, earning a legion of new fans with their highly danceable bass-driven beats. So it was no surprise that they sold out their next show in Victoria at Sugar last November. Now they’re back and ready to make their debut at Phillips Backyard, so tip up your cup and throw your hands up.


11:30PM, Friday, 16th
Studio CMCT @ The Mint

Colin McTaggart is probably the hardest working person at Rifflandia. Not only is he running his own venue during the festival, he is doing backline on the mainstage. Now he is squeezing in a set with his recently reunited band, Kermode. They make music you want to hear. A mix of ambient indie rock, trombone, and new wave sensibilities. Look for hired gun Dave Zellinsky on axe and listen for some great covers peppered into their set. Despite what you’ve heard Kermode is not a bear or a DJ.


12:30 AM, Friday, 16th (don’t get technical on us)
Studio CMCT at The Mint

We’re definitely a little confused about what kind of music will be performed at the Astrocolor show. Astrocolor is Weird Party, but when they play Christmas music.

Or so it would seem. The band is presently working on a non-Christmas album, so perhaps “Astrocolor” is only a different way to say “Weird Party,” because the unique musical style of the band remains the same: funky, jazzy, ethereal, and smooth.