Once again, the four-day musical Christmas which is Rifflandia descended upon Victoria this past weekend with over 150 artists, 15 downtown venues, and one wristband to rule them all. Here were some of the highlights for me in my most photo-riffic post ever (28 of ’em!).
Likely the most unexpected surprise of the festival was Airbourne. They’re a hard rock band (from Australia) who want to be AC/DC so bad, it hurts. It’s also awesome.
They’ve got it all: bare chests, long, curly headbanging hair, pointy metal guitars, and more energy than seems right. Here, lead singer and guitarist Joel O’Keeffe made a four foot leap onto some of the high side stacks to perform the traditional hard rock point-to-the-sky.
Here, the fastest and most efficient stagehand ever comes running out of the back to clean up the spilled drink of an embarrassed Martina Sorbara of Dragonette.
Serena Ryder showed all the love . . .
. . . spun all the fringe . . .
. . . and was shot by all the YYJ Rocktographers.
The War Child Lounge at The Atrium was, once again, a true highlight of the festival for me.
A beautifully-lit and fantastic-sounding venue, it usually hosts acoustic, stripped down performances of bands who would otherwise melt your face on a plugged-in stage.
The only downside to shooting the War Child Lounge on Saturday and Sunday mornings is that it overlaps the first couple of acts on the main stages at Royal Athletic Park.
On Saturday, I beetled it back to the park as quickly as I could to catch the last few minutes of one of my favourite artists, Kytami.
Kytami fuses fiddle music with dubstep and hip hop music, making for a powerful, frenetic show. She had a crew shooting a video during this performance so, while she normally kicks ass performing live, her energy was next-level this time around, making for extra fun, sweat, and hair-whippy-tastic photos.
She’s definitely top of my list of artists I’d love to book a promo photo session with. A classically-trained violinist(extremist) with style, power, and attitude.
Head of the Herd also had to rush back to the park from the War Child Lounge because they had a plugged-in show two hours after their acoustic performance. Here, Neu Mannas and Clayton Frank have had enough of standing.
Clayton took to the same side stacks Airbourne jumped to earlier, only this time for a harmonica solo.
Also: their crazy amazing drummer, Matty Carolei. Whoa.
Pre-Riff, I was given the heads up the type of performance Le Butcherettes would stage by fellow YYJ Rocktographer John Carlow (who you’ll be seeing on this here gallery in short order). Thus, I was prepared for anything.
When singer Teri Gender Bender rocketed onto the stage, the “whoa” began. I was ready, and this was the first frame I shot, seconds into their show.
Drummer Lia Braswell was equally on fire. On her leg, she has a tattoo of the muppet Animal bursting out of a snare drum. =)
Intense is the word I would use to describe Le Butcherettes. However, the reality that this is a performance was brought into sharp focus when I met them backstage: they were both quiet, friendly, and gracious young ladies. Who scream a lot in Mexican and violently pound on their instruments while onstage.
Lytrix (the team of Lateef the Truthspeaker, left, and Lyrics Born, right) were in perfect sync for their performance and, thankfully, for this one-syllable point to each other, so was I.
In another rockstar portrait, violinist Anna Bulbrook of The Airborne Toxic Event has my thanks for following the same path along the stage multiple times while performing, giving me the opportunity to shoot her up close on her second pass, seeing as I couldn’t get a good capture the first time ’round due to the sheer number of photographers in the pit.
Ben Gibbard, lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie, sings I Will Possess Your Heart to kick off the final performance with their 17-year guitarist, Chris Walla. It was an emotional end to Saturday night, complete with falling meteor.
I shot night venues for the first time in a long while, but kept my visits quick to visit as many as I could in short order.
For my final rockstar performance portrait, Laura Smith of Rococode at the War Child Lounge Sunday.
I’ve been wanting to shoot Danielle McTaggart and Dear Rouge for a while now, having found them on Instagram shortly after, I believe, last year’s Rifflandia. She’s hilarious, and a great performer, and I’m happy I was able to finally get some shots of her doing her thing.
The final performance of Rifflandia 7 was Gregg Gillis, who goes by the stage name Girl Talk. He’s not so much a DJ as a sample-based mashup artist, and his performance was fantastic. The crowd, which was massive, loved it.
Now, while Girl Talk was indeed the final performance of this year’s festival, I’ve saved the best for last in terms of this post. That’d be the highly-anticipated-by-me return of Rich Aucoin to the War Child Lounge.
As unstoppable as ever, inexplicably bleeding from the nose the moment his set began didn’t phase him in the least.
And, as we all hoped, the preschool parachute made a return trip with Rich. However, damned if it wasn’t TWICE THE SIZE IT WAS LAST TIME.
Ladies and gentlefolk, I give you my shot of the festival, and my shot of the year: Rich Aucoin, GOD.
Thanks so much for Riffing with me!