The 2013 Tall Tree music festival was a spectacular event that continued through the Canada Day long weekend. This year’s event brought more than 1 800 people to a small hill 20 minutes from Port Renfrew. The music was diverse, ranging from acoustic to electronic as the night progressed, until DJs took over the small stage after midnight.
Friday night’s headliner, Bend Sinister, brought tight pop-rock songs to the stage, and despite the grey weather, many campers and festival goers attended the main Tall Tree stage and later moved on to the Valley stage where DJs manned the dance floor until 7 a.m.
The weather for the rest of the weekend was sunny and hot. Saturday’s headliner, A Tribe Called Red, was delayed after the band members weren’t able to arrive to the festival from Calgary. Instead, crowds felt their mix of traditional powwow and club music Sunday night. Pacheedaht First Nations community members were invited on stage and danced during the performance.
On Saturday, Hollerado and The Funk Hunters came on stage with few or no hiccups. They were well received by the crowd and — like at any good festival — there was a smurf that crowd-surfed midway through Hollerado’s set.
The festival was primarily supported by roughly 100 volunteers, many of whom were artists explains Mike Hann, one of the head organizers for Tall Tree. “In fact, we’re all head organizers in some way,” says Hann. Behind the scenes, the festival is unique, primarily due to the large community support from Port Renfrew, the Pacheedaht band and volunteers trekking from around the globe. By Hann’s account, at least 90 per cent of people in Port Renfrew support the festival in one way or another, and 70 per cent of musicians are from the island.
Nathan Mark, one of the lead organizers alongside Mike Hann, has been involved with the festival for a couple of years. He moved from out east after his first experience with Tall Tree. “I got to the airport, saw my wife and told her, ‘We’re moving out West,’ ” he says.
For Anna Almero, a volunteer from Toronto, Tall Tree was an opportunity to be open to new experiences. “When I went to Tall Tree, it blew my mind,” she says. “Everyone was so open, smiling.” Her experiences reminded her that people are willing to be open toward one another. “A lot of the time in Toronto, things can feel a bit distant,” she says, “and the people can be very cold towards one another.”
The 65-group lineup was a great success, and now that the festival is over, the next step is to clean up the hill. “It’s important to give back to them when they need it the most,” says Almero of the event organizers, “and I’m more than happy to help out with that.”