Cat Empire and De La Soul to play Phillips Backyard Weekender

Phillips Brewery will be quenching Victoria’s thirst for a live music concert series July 19–20 with Australian jazz/ska band The Cat Empire and hip hop legends De La Soul. The Phillips back yard, usually known as the brewery’s parking lot, pairs its local craft beer with the back-to-back concerts on July 19 and 20.

Both headliners play high-energy songs chock full of quirky genre-sampling and positive lyrics, making each a longtime favourite in their respective genres: The Cat Empire has played together for more than a decade, and De La Soul celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

The weekender also features sets by The Dirty Heads, The Expendables, DJ Boitano, Buck 65, Sonreal and DJ Wood.

The Cat Empire

Friday July 19, 2013
5:30-10:00 p.m.

Victoria is one stop on The Cat Empire’s largest tour yet. The six-piece Australian ska/jazz band is hitting 70 cities on three continents to play their sixth studio album, Steal the Light, released on May 17, 2013.

Steal the Light globe-trots world beats with jazz, reggae and Latin rhythms, horns and touches of hip hop and electronic to keep the energy at full force.

“I think we’ve had nominations for rock and pop and jazz and world. It’s a bit hard to place the band in terms of what its sound is in a commercial sense,” said vocalist and percussionist Felix Riebl in an interview with the Zone 91.3. “It’s always been a very flexible and improvisation-based band.”

The album cover art overturned the band’s self-imposed 12 year ban on cat references, with Aztec warrior cats armed with fantastical instruments, recalling the chorus of the 2003 single “The Chariot”—“our weapons were our instruments/ made from timber and steel/ we never yielded to conformity.”

The show will open with two bands from California: laidback surf-rock group The Expendables and reggae/hip hop The Dirty Heads.

De La Soul

Saturday July 20, 2013
5:30-10:00 p.m.

Rounding off the concert series is golden era hip hop staples De La Soul, whose return to recording  comes after nearly a decade of touring, collaborations, remixes and 2012’s album,  Plug 1 & Plug 2 presents… First Serve by two of the three group members.

The upcoming album, You’re Welcome, is set for release this fall. De La Soul premiered the album’s first single, “Get Away ft. The Spirit of the Wu,” in April to positive reviews. The single retains the group’s quirky lyricism, but has a darker edge than the group’s trademark optimism, with samples from 1997’s Wu Tang Forever.

“It’s pretty much reflecting on the state of hip-hop at this moment,” Maseo, De La Soul’s DJ, told Rolling Stone magazine in April. “Everything is redundant. Everything sounds the same. No real lyrical content. Everybody’s just doing business, not really creating.”

Still, De La Soul’s signature upbeat oddities remove the risk that You’re Welcome is cynical lamentation, rather than insight from the seasoned Long Island group.

Tickets to the Phillips Backyard Weekender are on sale for $35 each or $60 for both shows, at Lyle’s Place, Ditch Records and ticketweb.ca.

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