Rifflandia 2013 as a 30-Something


My man, Kurt and I started the festival strong on Thursday night with a great (and half priced) dinner at Smiths thanks to our handy wristbands. After dinner we headed down to the same place that everybody else was headed–Phillips Brewery for the Pat Mahoney and James Murphy DJ set. Pat Mahoney and James Murphy are both members of the musical act LCD Soundsystem. I know about 5 of their songs and I am quite fond of a youtube video of Murphy in the back of a cab with Tim and Eric, but that is the extent of my knowledge. The night was just like an outdoor party where all your friends and acquaintances are gathered drinking good beer. The music was cool, but to me it could have been anybody.  As the venue filled up and things started to get spilly, we headed to Metro Theatre to see the Belle Game on the recommendation on my young/hip friend Elexa. They were at capacity and we couldn’t get in, an unfortunate Rifflandia occurrence. Instead of being cool and going somewhere else, we cut our losses and went home to bed. Rifflandia or not, I still had to work in the morning.


I checked the park out briefly after work. I thought I might want to see the Mounties, but upon first listen I realized I was actually okay, so I headed back home to make dinner. A cool thing about my house–it’s about a 5 minute walk away from Royal Athletic Park, very handy for outfit changes, meal breaks and naps. We went to the park for real later that evening for Courtney Love. I have to admit, she was about 5000 times better than I thought she would be. In fact, she was fucking awesome. Towards the end of her set we beelined it for a second night at Phillips for the hiphop show. Son Real was pretty good. I was skeptical when Z-Trip started play, as I strongly dislike electronic music, but he won me over. And then Action Bronson, who was awesome because how can you not like someone who sings about Marty Jannetty? By the time Action Bronson was onstage, the venue was packed with people dancing and double fisting and stepping on my feet and spilling beer on my sweater. I was happy to leave about halfway through his set to get to Alix Goolden to see Cold Specks, one of my Rifflandia must sees. She was perfect as I knew she would be. We attempted Holy Fuck but got there in time only for a massive line, so we made our last stop of the night the Cooper Owl for Young Liars. They were great, but sounded a lot like a lot of bands sound right now.


I got to the park for 1pm to see my number one Rifflandia must see–Corb Lund. I love him. I loved the Smalls and I love the Hurtin Albertans. I wore my cowboy boots to honour him. I knew the words to every song, but I didn’t sing along because I felt too silly. Oh well. He was the best. We hung out in the park for the rest of the day with friends and great food–Tacofino fish burrito (!!!). We paid attention to St. Lucia and Chali 2na and let everything else serve as background music for our Saturday. By the time USS came on, I needed to get out of there, so we headed home for a nap. We got back to the park for Death From Above 1979 which was loud and nostalgia-inducing. That evening everyone was going back to Phillips, but I just couldn’t do more crowds and small talk and spilly dancers. We toyed with the Copper Owl for a mellow drink, but ultimately just bailed out and went home to bed.


We got to the park half-way through Hannah Georgas’ set, which was great, though I wish I had seen her at the War Child Lounge instead. She went on a date with my old roommate once, which is super comical if you know him. Though unrelated to her music, it makes me like her more. Again we spent most of the day in the park, sipping ciders with friends and eating great food–Hungry Rooster perogies (!!!). I was looking forward to Brushy One String a whole lot, but he wasn’t able to make it to town. The Stars were good, of course, though I wish I was closer to the stage when they played Your Ex-Lover is Dead. At this point in the dreary day, everyone around me was cold and wet, so I volunteered to run home on a sweater run–told everyone I’d be back in 15-20 depending on the lines. Well, when I returned to the park the line went all the way down Cook to Pembroke and was getting longer real fast. To top it off, it wasn’t moving and we (my friend Alex was in line right behind me thankfully) were told by 2 different people they weren’t letting anyone else in. After about 45-minutes of standing still in the pouring rain, something happened and we were around the block and right into the gates. I got there about halfway through Big Boi’s set which was obviously awesome and me and all my friends were now warm, also awesome. After Big Boi was Matt and Kim. Their style isn’t my cup of tea but they were easily some of the best performers of the weekend. It was a party under that tent. And finally, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. They are one of my guilty pleasure bands; I’m a secret fan and they were a great way to end the weekend.

Overall, it was an awesome weekend! I had some cool self-realizations with regards to just how much small talk and crowd I can handle in one weekend–not as much as you will encounter over one weekend at Rifflandia. That said, tired or not, I will definitely do it again next year.


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