Decisions are hard and that’s why Rocktographers is here to help you kick off your Rifflandia right.

With over 125 artists playing over 11 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.

In the past few years Rocktographers has recommended you to see Astrocolor, Band of Rascals, Bend Sinister, Carmanah, Dear Rouge, Fallbrigade, Fintan O’Brien, Five Alarm Funk, Fox Glove, The Glorious Sons, Illvis Freshly, July Talk, Kytami, Leeroy Stagger, Liinks, Lovecoast, Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness, Spaceboots, Stinging Belle, and Yukon Blonde. We still want you to see all of those great bands, but this year we want you to see new ones, too.

J GRGRY

9:30PM, Thursday 14th
Lucky Bar

Often covered in outlandish pink and gold body paint and visual projections, Seattle’s J GRGRY is making his Canadian debut at this year’s Rifflandia.

GRGRY has been gaining some critical exposure and garnishing the respect of local musicians and media alike in his hometown of Seattle. After his recent performance at Bumbershoot, KEXP commented that he “moved across the stage like Perry Farrell and Ziggy Stardust were both possessing his body at the same time. Even that might be a disservice because Gregory was uniquely his own while he was on the stage.” 

Despite being saddled with one of the opening slots for the entire festival, we think that might be a good thing. Those on the hunt for new and interesting music will find themselves in awe at Lucky Bar.

SISTERS

11:30PM, Thursday 14th
Sugar Nightclub

Here’s the thing about Seattle electro pop duo SISTERS. They’re not even related. Also, one of them is a dude. Andrew Vait and Emily Westman first met while studying music at the University of Miami, and then reconnected a few years later in Seattle as part of the Seattle Rock Orchestra. Eventually they started hanging out and experimenting with different sounds and instruments and a new band was born. They called it SISTERS and started cranking out vibrant synth-pop anthems like they were either going out of style or coming back into fashion (we’ll never know).

Their set at Sugar on Thursday night faces some tough counter-programming with Zeds Dead down at Electric Avenue, but we think SISTERS is going to be one of the festival’s early highlights, so check it.

Said The Whale

4:15PM, Friday 15th
Royal Athletic Park Main Stage

Said The Whale have been mainstays of the west coast music scene for the last 10 years. They first played Rifflandia way back in 2009, and we can’t wait to see them take over the main stage at Royal Athletic Park on Friday afternoon. On the heels of becoming a three-piece and with a drastic shift in sound, Said The Whale have exploded back on the scene in 2017, including playing an incredible set in Victoria at Sugar Nightclub in April. Their latest album, As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide, presents us with a more mature, darker and synthier sound but with all the hooks that made us fall in love with the band in the first place.

Youngblood

10:30PM, Friday 15th
Sugar Nightclub

Described in their bio as “what the 60s thought the future would sound like,” Youngblood are a dynamic force to be reckoned with. With soaring vocals, catchy tunes and one hell of a stage presence by frontwoman Alexis Young, they get our pick for your Friday night enjoyment at Rifflandia.

You can also catch them playing the MusiCounts TD Lounge at the Atrium on Saturday the 16th at 11:30AM.

Dream Warriors

5:15PM, Saturday 16th
Royal Athletic Park Rifftop Tent

There are a lot of Rifflandians who were around in 1990 to discover Toronto’s Dream Warriors on MuchMusic. More than a one-hit wonder, with four charting songs, they’re best known for My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style, which sampled the theme from Canadian TV game show Definition (which, incidentally, was composed by Quincy Jones), likely to be their set closer.

But, leading up to it, expect a set both nostalgic and grooveable. ’90s jazz rap ain’t dead yet.

A Tribe Called Red

6:50PM, Saturday 16th
Royal Athletic Park Rifftop Tent

A Tribe Called Red takes all the colour, history, and sounds of Canada’s longstanding first nations culture, and gateways it to unsuspecting audiences by mashing it up with high-energy DJ production, bringing fully-outfitted dancers and hoop dancers on stage, augmenting their visuals to create a pounding, inclusive, experience which should open the most tightly-closed eyes to the beautiful culture we have all around us.

They’ve played the Rifftop tent before, turning the entire crowd into a cheering, bouncing throng, and we can’t wait to see what they bring this year.

Hot Chip (DJ Set)

11:00PM, Saturday 16th
Phillips Backyard

Okay, we don’t know what a DJ set from Hot Chip will look like. Heck, we don’t even know what band members are going to be doing the DJ set.

All we know is that Hot Chip has been around the block more than once. They’ve put out six albums of some of the finest indie electronica out there and countless high-concept music videos. This is a band that isn’t afraid to experiment with sounds, visuals, and pretty much anything else. We hope that their DJ set is just as exciting as the music they produce with a full band.

Maybe Hot Chip will fall in love with Victoria and come back with the whole band to headline Rifflandia 11.

Harrison

2:30PM, Sunday 17th
Royal Athletic Park Rifftop Tent

Unconventional electronic artist Harrison is one act you do not want to sleep through this Sunday. With an early afternoon time slot, the Toronto DJ’s Rifftop Tent set promises to rouse the weary masses from their three-day hangover and get everyone geared up for a furious final day at the park.

Harrison’s atypical sound features laid back, understated rhythms with notes of breezy soul and funk. It’s what he calls “electronic uplifting melancholy music.” Come get some.

Moby (DJ Set)

7:15PM, Sunday 17th
Royal Athletic Park Main Stage

It’s easy to forget that Moby has been a prolific DJ for pretty much his entire career. Most know him from his hugely successful albums Play and 18, but don’t dive much deeper into his catalogue before that. Moby has been in punk bands, an electronic artist, ambient sound maker, band leader, vegan spokesperson, tea shop owner, essay writer, novelist, and techno DJ amongst so much more.

Moby is complex and he brings that energy to his DJ sets. Peppering in samples of his own work, he builds the sets into explosive dance parties. This is a man who was the king at the peak of rave culture. He knows how to put on a show.

Yes, we’d love to see him perform his somewhat politically charged new material with The Void Pacific Choir, and we’d love to see him backed by a band playing his hits too, but seeing Moby do what he does best is going to be one hell of a treat.