Rifflandia to celebrate its 10th birthday

Culture Music

B.C.’s live music scene has undoubtedly taken several hits in 2017, with Pemberton, Squamish, and Rock The Shores festivals cancelled this past summer season. Regardless, Rifflandia Music Festival looks to continue a decade-long tradition of providing Victoria with new music and undeniable relevance, saturated in west coast culture.

Set to take place from Sept. 14-17, this year’s lineup boasts a wide range of acts: from English electronic musician Bonobo, to Toronto R&B singer-songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson, to a generous handful of local favourites.

With four days of shows spread across 10 unique venues, the festival has evolved far beyond the 10×10 tent and boombox outside of McPherson Playhouse that it once was. From Death Cab for Cutie to Broken Social Scene to Modest Mouse to Tegan and Sara, Rifflandia has also expanded the range of genres being heard in Victoria. Not targeting a particular genre has allowed the festival to consistently bring in up-and-coming acts and introduce a new and changing music scene to the city year after year.

A sign from last year’s Rifflandia. Photo by Alistair Ogden, photo contributor

This certainly remains true for 2017, as the festival continues to establish its unique variety of artists and sounds. While the festival this year is somewhat more oriented towards electronic music — particularly with headliners MOBY and Bonobo — representation of other genres remains abundant. Highlights include hip-hop fusion group A Tribe Called Red, returning to the Rifftop stage after a one-year hiatus, as well as prominent Canadian indie-rock groups July Talk and Said The Whale. This year will also feature the addition of local venue “The Duke Saloon” that will host local country artists as a part of Rifflandia’s night stage events.

Rifflandia also strives to continue an alternative approach to popular music festival norms. Instead of focusing on bringing in huge names to reap in ticket sales, Rifflandia’s marketing director Alex Kerr describes Rifflandia as having “fostered a community-oriented festival” by involving local businesses and artists in its annual production. Everything from the promotional artwork to food vendors at the venues is part of a symbiotic relationship with Rifflandia, thus supporting the Victoria music and arts communities each year. Over 75 per cent of the artists at this year’s festival are from B.C., marking the most local musicians to play at any Rifflandia festival yet.

“It’s about staying true to how the festival started and supporting local music, and mixing that in with some international headliners,” says Kerr.

Full festival passes and single day tickets are available at rifflandia.com or Lyle’s Place. For more information, please visit rifflandia.com

The top 5 must-see acts of Rifflandia 2017


When: Saturday, Sept. 16, 7:45 p.m.

Where: Main stage at Royal Athletic Park

Also known as Simon Green, Bonobo is a U.K. electronic artist stopping in Victoria as part of his 2017 “Migration” tour. Green takes 21st century electronica and sampling and blends it with breathtaking global rhythms to create ethereal tracks.


When: Saturday, Sept. 16, 6:50 p.m.

Where: Rifftop tent at Royal Athletic Park

Ottawa-based trio A Tribe Called Red is a fusion of EDM genres with traditional Indigenous music to create their trademark “powwow step”. Even for the visual spectacle alone, this is set to be one of the most explosive performances of this year’s Rifflandia.


When: Saturday, Sept. 16, 11:30 p.m.

Where: Anian Yard on Discovery Street

Vancouver Indie synth pop group Peach Pit brings an undeniable hazy warmth to this year’s Rifflandia lineup. This is a must-attend for lo-fi lovers and broken hearts alike.


When: Friday, Sept. 15, 5:00 p.m.

Where: Rifftop tent at Royal Athletic Park

Since releasing her debut EP in 2016, Toronto R&B/soul singer Charlotte Day Wilson is now embarking on a North American tour. Prepare to be caressed by an unbelievably silky alto voice and ultra lush melodies that will leave you swooning for days.


When: Sunday, Sept. 17, 5:40 p.m.

Where: Main stage at Royal Athletic Park

After several revamps over the last several years, indie-rock band Yukon Blonde recently released a two track extension of their 2015 LP, “On Blonde”. Originally from Kelowna, the group has a long history of playing in B.C. music festivals and are looking to share a newfound style influenced by each member’s musical inspirations.