East Meets West: Summer of Festivals Series- SKOOKUM Festival Volume 2

I’d never festival’d before. Yes, festival IS a verb. Sure I’d sang “Ziggy Zaggy Oi OiOi” in Kitchener at Oktoberfest. I’m also told I had a great time at George Street Fest. (I would like to take this moment to offer thanks to Dionysus, the god of madness and pleasure that a) I survived  b) no smart phones were around when I was having plastic cup after plastic cup of Lamb’s, rum because I have no doubt in my mind that I was the farthest thing from picture perfect.)

The Summer of 2018 found me changing the tides; in two months I found myself at three music festivals. Each with their own personality. I present to you, part two of SKOOKUM


I had slept in my own bed. I had showered. If this is what VIP at a festival is like, I might have to reconsider…

Day 2

I started the day with local boys The Zolas. A bit dream pop, rock, refreshing, romantic. I could swoon on an on.

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However, the refreshment wore off quickly.

The coordinators of SKOOKUM did not adequately plan for the volume of people. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to still be served food; a $12 grilled cheese and chips. It was a good grilled cheese, but worth the price? No. I’m grateful that I smuggled in an apple and wasn’t drinking, cuz I would have been broke as a joke. There were also tremendously long washroom lines. Hangry and a full bladder? Brutal combo. Port-o-potty wait lines 30 mins if you’re lucky.

More music, please!

I’d seen Metric years ago when I was a wee froshie back in TO; they were even better now over a decade later. Emily Haines doesn’t mess around! She commands the stage and reminds you to be grateful that she’s got your heart beating like a hammer.

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There was a palpable current among the Canadian artists; gratitude. They’re in on it, though Canada is far from perfect and still has growing pains to acknowledge and heal, this country has a hell of a lot going for it and they want to share that love.

Perhaps the reason Florence and the Machine was the perfect headliner (as well as being a major draw) is that she has a lot of heart and shares it willingly. Florence has a voice that can reach the rafters, yet her speaking voice is gentle, sweet and inviting. She asked us all to literally put arms around each other and to feel the love in this uncertain time we’re living in.

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Day 3

Everyone and their mother was heading to SKOOKUM (actually! Sarah’s mom came) I couldn’t take the fuckery of transit, I car2go’d there. This would have been all fine, had traffic let me take my correct exit. I was bummed. I was going to miss Cold War Kids. I don’t know if it was the universe winking or flipping me off, but traffic stopped right while they were playing the song that got me into the band. I rolled down the window, had a good laugh and enjoyed the guitar licks.

Eventually I made it in, just in time for the husband and wife duo Luke and Melissa, better known as Whitehorse;  (they met on tour with Sarah McLachlan, so Canadian). Whitehorse has stolen my heart and been so kind to me (ie driving across the country, or running into Melissa stoned out of my tree and fangirling while she gave me the kindest, most sympathetic smile) and can play this shit out of it. There’s a reason they’re a favourite.

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On to the next!

Hometown heroes Mother Mother. Their brand of quirky energy was just the thing to invigorate the crowd that was happily singing in an attempt to thwart the rain.

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Bahamas has long seduced me with his baritone vocals and lyrics, and he’s a babe with humble, feel-good dad wisdom between songs. The crowd was THERE for it. The rain didn’t dampen our spirits and by the second song the groove brought a rainbow. The reprieve would only be temporary as it started was pissing rain shortly after.  Mercifully my pals and I were able to cram into the safety of the beer tents. It was claustrophobic and smelly, but not awful. People were happy, making room for each other, it was kind of nice. 

Day three didn’t hold back when it came to Canadian favorites; the legendary Buffy Sainte Marie, enticed and invited the audience with her unique blend of compassion and humour and crooners Blue Rodeo ensued a heck of a sing along from the crowd (I’m looking at you Sarah). 

I peeled myself away from the twanging guitars for my own brand of singer/songwriter, with a heaping dose of sardonic sarcasm and social commentary: Father John Misty.  The former Fleet Foxes drummer shimmied and strutted with moves like Jagger. His 70s-esque vibe and drug-laced lyrics, with horn-backings, had the crowd jiving.

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And just like that, it was time for the finale: The Killers. Described in one word; energetic! Vegas glam brought to Stanley Park. The crowd uproariously belted out their lyrics of past hits as they bobbed and bashed into each other. 

And in a bang (actually, The Killers had a confetti cannon), thus concluded SKOOKUM 2018.

The real question; would I go back?

Days after the festival, people got a souvenir they didn’t purchase; Measles. What the actual fuck; come to a festival and in addition to memories, contract a highly contagious virus? By no means am inferring that the festival is responsible for the outbreak, but in conjunction with the transportation issues (expensive shuttle, copious amounts of walking, and traffic) along with daily costs, it really would make me take pause if I’d want to attend again.

Despite the hiccups, though, I really enjoyed myself, resonated with the music. And really, that’s all it was ever about for me.

*The complete Summer of Festivals Series- is available here.*