If you’re hav­ing fun at Rif­flan­dia, put your hands up

Times Colonist - - Front Page - mde­vlin@times­colonist.com MIKE DEVLIN mde­vlin@times­colonist.com

Afes­ti­val like Rif­flan­dia can sur­vive only if the com­mu­nity as a whole pledges its sup­port. Vic­to­ria did so and then some Satur­day, with a turnout at Royal Ath­letic Park that was pos­i­tive to the point of be­ing out of this world.

With about 7,500 fans on site, the 10th an­nual mu­sic fes­ti­val reached ca­pac­ity for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year dur­ing its show­case Satur­day night.

That’s good news for a mid-size mu­sic event try­ing to keep its head above water in what has been a tur­bu­lent few years for mu­sic fes­ti­vals in the prov­ince.

Rif­flan­dia was abuzz in the af­ter­noon in the park with sets by A Tribe Called Red, Dream War­riors and Dear Rouge. The ac­tion con­tin­ued Satur­day night in the down­town area known as Elec­tric Av­enue, which spans a length of Dis­cov­ery Street and in­cludes five stages.

At­ten­dance in the area peaked at 6,500 fans on Fri­day and was ex­pected to reach its ca­pac­ity of 7,000 overnight Satur­day.

But there’s more than mu­sic at Rif­flan­dia, which is part of its en­dur­ing ap­peal. The ven­dors area known as Main Street fea­tured fam­ily fare along with goods and ser­vices, in­clud­ing hair­cuts. The food area was also ac­tive. The line in front of Habit Cof­fee was 10 to 15 peo­ple deep in the scorch­ing af­ter­noon.

“It’s one of my favourite week­ends of the year,” said Shane Dev­ereaux, owner­op­er­a­tor of Habit Cof­fee. “It’s a ton of fun.” As with many other ven­dors, Dev­ereaux has been at Rif­flan­dia for the en­tirety of its 10-year run.

His staff of five work the stand un­til 9 p.m., putting in 10-hour days. He has even had for­mer baris­tas who worked for him years ago come back just to re­live the ex­pe­ri­ence at Rif­flan­dia.

The Satur­day event was capped by Bri­tish im­port Bonobo, a DJ who now lives in Los An­ge­les.

The pro­duc­tion whiz is a cult per­former with a ra­bid fans, and they were out in force. It was ex­cel­lent, but down-tempo.

The au­di­ence was en­gaged for the most part, but ma­jor league head­lin­ers might no longer be in­te­gral to ticket sales. Rif­flan­dia reached an apex in 2017 without the star wattage of pre­vi­ous edi­tions, which in­cluded City and Colour, Court­ney Love, the Flam­ing Lips, Death Cab for Cu­tie and Te­gan and Sara. These days, the event is the at­trac­tion. The event has worked out the kinks in other ar­eas, and typ­i­cally runs smoothly.

No se­cu­rity is­sues were re­ported Satur­day.

“The only com­plaints we have re­ceived thus far have been about the noise,” said Vic­to­ria po­lice Sgt. Raj Rand­hawa.

“There are mea­sures in place to en­sure that it stays within the lim­its, but so far noth­ing un­usual. Noise hap­pens at a fes­ti­val.”

Rif­flan­dia con­tin­ues to­day with sets from Moby, Z-Trip and Yukon Blonde. Tick­ets can be pur­chased at rif­flan­dia.com.

The crowd lis­tens to A Tribe Called Red at the Rifftop Tent dur­ing Rif­flan­dia at Royal Ath­letic Park on Satur­day evening.

Bri­tish elec­tronic mu­si­cian Bonobo wows the crowd on the main stage dur­ing Rif­flan­dia at Royal Ath­letic Park on Satur­day night.

Am­s­ter­dam-based singer Sz­jer­dene per­forms at Rif­flan­dia.

The Rif­flan­dia crowd hangs on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

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