PEMBERTON, BC – HUKA Entertainment’s reincarnation of the Pemberton Music Festival went off July 16-20th 2014, with a big splash into the music festival scene! While the remote location in BC’s Coast Mountains and late lineup release may have lessened the masses of partiers descending on the small town of Pemberton, the festival went off with excellent organization and concluded with over 75,000 enjoying stellar music and amazing scenery. Despite an agonizingly long trek to camping and some funky scheduling, artists and fans alike were impressed and elated post-festival.
Thursday warmed up the venue with great hard rock sets by Rolla Olak, Gord Downie and the Sadies, and Matt Mays. Meanwhile across the venue, Break Science and Dan Deacon lit up the dance tent with heavy and energetic beats. In between, the Boom Booms of Vancouver put on a lively show as the sun dropped below the horizon.
Pemberton Fest Photos
Friday brought on the first of three full days/nights of music. Blondie put on a classic act with hits such as End to End with old music video footage playing as a backdrop. Meanwhile Cage the Elephant captured the majority of the afternoon crowd with a highly energetic set concluding with some crowd-surfing and crowd-walking. Drumsticks and even a guitar went flying into the crowd at the end of this electrifying performance.
Following were great sets by Soundgarden and Empire of the Sun were Above and Beyond, Kendrick Lamar, and Canadian indie favorite Stars.
Following a break in the stellar acts, the much anticipated Nine Inch Nails began their set with nothing but a single mic on stage. As the act progressed, stage hands secretly assembled and tore down equipment and backdrops to make for a dynamic visual experience throughout this electrifying show.
A peculiar one hour break followed before the late night sets came on including EDM, hip hop, ambiance, and groovy beats with 3LAU, Schoolboy Q, XXYYXX, and Griz. 3LAU took full advantage of the audiovisual setup, blasting fast beats and uplifting lyrics. The groovy sax-infused beats of Griz played late into the night. More strange scheduling placed Best Coast opposite of Griz, drowning out their ambient rock, which one would think is better suited to afternoon or early evening timeslots.
Saturday started off with a somber mood while news circulated of a fatality in the campsite the previous evening, reminding everyone to look out for each other and keep safety as a priority. The music, however, did continue with great sets by Dinosaur Jr. and Wild Belle. The sibling duo fronting Wild Belle played a passionate set with superb vocals, the type that sound best projected across open fields to an enthralled audience.
With crowds gathered around the Pemberton stage eagerly awaiting Snoop Dogg, a few tracks were played by his hype man before none other than Bob Saget walked onto the stage. Sparing the crowd his dirty standup humor, he quickly introduced Snoop and grabbed a quick photo with his phone. Snoop proceeded to mainly perform covers to the pleasure of the familiar crowd and barely dipped into his reggae material.
Following Snoop’s causal style was the Canadian rock favorite Metric with a long and electrifying set that engaged the audience lyrically and emotionally.
As the night fell, Deadmau5 took center stage as the only act in the twilight timeslot and impressed the audience with an extravagant audiovisual display, utilizing three mega screens to display haunting themes and propaganda followed by fantasy racing video game scenes to keep viewers entranced throughout his melodic beats.
The final day of PembyFest boasted the best lineup of the fest, but naturally suffered from numerous schedule conflicts. Starting things off was the local Pemberton formed band Dakota Pearl, who battled their way into the festival against other area bands. They played a passionate blend of twang and punk, self described as ‘farmcore’.
A supreme collection of artists made up the day’s most soulful act with Hallelujah Train featuring Daniel Landis, Pastor Brady Blade, and Gospel Choir. Vocal harmonies were supreme and even an improvised “Where will I be” went off perfectly for the collective group’s first time through.
Next up on the Pemberton stage was Reggae rockers Rebelution with more vocal harmonies and rhythms. These guys put on a diverse and exciting show bringing in many instruments into their wall of world dub melodies.
For the final sunset set Modest Mouse and a Justice DJ set were scheduled opposite the venue. While the masses headed for the dance tent, a large crowd rocked along to a great Modest Mouse set including an extra grungy version of ‘Shit in Your Cut’ and a groovy incarnation of ‘The Good Times are Killing Me’
Immediately following Modest Mouse, Outkast took lead of the festival as the only twilight act. Bursting out of a cage, Andre 3000 and Big Boi delivered hit after hit as the crowd went wild and obeyed their every command. Each made a brief solo performance, but they really shined in their rapid lyric delivery and perfect coordination. Having a band in the background made for a very live set, easily defending their top spot on Sunday’s lineup.
Frank Ocean finished off the festival after a schedule change with an intimate set. While hard to follow the banger set from Outkast, Ocean’s romantic finish drew a large crowd to send off the final night together.
Pemby fest really went off as HUKA Entertainment’s inaugural attempt, delivering top notch audio and cutting edge visual displays reminiscent of well established international festivals. Amenities such as hot water sinks, a waterslide, and zip-line combined with great staff and security provided an excellent festival experience. Nearly all groups complimented the region’s beauty, which always boosts artistic inspiration. You can certainly expect many artists and fans to be eagerly awaiting next year once the kinks are worked out!