It was a not-so-nice day for a white wedding or a concert on Saturday as rain continued to plague the Pemberton Music Festival for the third day in a row. But fans who stuck it out to the bitter, cold end were treated to hot performances by Billy Idol, a reunited Killers, and rap star Wiz Khalifa.
The proceedings got off to a sleepy start on Saturday as festival-goers were spotted nursing their hangovers (or working on new ones) during afternoon sets by HUCCI, Borns, and BC’s own Datsik. But all it took was a rebel yell from the Pemberton stage at 6:15 pm to fire up the rain-soaked crowd.
Billy Idol bared his soul (and his abs) as he tore through an hour worth of hits and sentimental favourites. Fans sang and sneered along with the blond bombshell to classic tracks like “Dancing With Myself” and “Eyes Without A Face” while Idol playfully threw frisbees into the crowd.
The first impossible choice of the day came at 7:30 pm when The Chainsmokers and Ice Cube were scheduled to play simultaneously at opposite ends of the festival. The scheduling snafu was so controversial that it prompted one angry fan to start a petition on change.org to accommodate both acts, to no avail. According to the nifty Pemberton Music Festival app, the crowd was evenly split between the two shows with many attendees running from stage to stage to catch a taste of both.
Those who moaned about the lack of superstars when Pemby Fest’s 2016 lineup was first announced had to look no further than The Chainsmokers. The dynamic EDM duo have grown leaps and bounds since 2013’s eye-roll inducing “#Selfie”; last year’s “Roses” was a bonafide smash and the guys are the only act performing at this year’s festival with a current top 10 hit (“Don’t Let Me Down”). Both songs made the pair’s setlist at Bass Camp, as did a kickass remix of Dr. Dre’s “Nothin’ But A G Thang.”
Dre’s former bandmate Ice Cube played an equally fiery set on the Mt. Currie stage. Cube promised to “keep it gangsta” for the duration of his performance and did exactly that courtesy of old school jams like “Natural Born Killaz” and “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It.”
“How many people here realize that N.W.A. was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year?” he asked to huge cheers (Cube is the only RRHOF inductee who performed over weekend). “We didn’t perform that night but goddamn it, we’re gonna rock BC instead! Let’s see if you guys are still down with my shit.”
And down with his shit they were. The buzz around the beer gardens after his exhilarating 80-minute set was that Cube had stolen the night, if not the entire festival.
Fresh from their “surprise” show at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom on Friday, The Killers reunited once again on the Pemberton stage at 9:15 pm. Brandon Flowers and company tested the patience of even their most beloved fans by starting 3o minutes late (a big festival no-no), but all was forgiven when guitarist Dave Keuning played the opening chords to 2006’s “Mr. Brightside”.
The Killers have been toiling away in the recording studio with producers Alan Moulder and Flood for an upcoming album, but fans came expecting hits and didn’t leave disappointed. In addition to “Mr. Brightside”, the Las Vegas rockers played “Human” (with Flowers singing alone at a piano for the first half) and a lovely cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.
Late night sets from Die Antwoord, Wiz Khalifa, and Compton hip hop star YG kept fans on their tired feet well past midnight. YG spit tracks from sophomore album Still Brazy, including the politically-charged “Police Get Away With Murder” while Khalifa kept it light with hits like “Young, Wild & Free” and “Taylor Gang.”
The Pemberton Music Festival wrapped up Sunday night with performances by Halsey, Tyler the Creator, and headliner Pearl Jam.
Some photos for this article were provided by Brandon Artis. Connect with him at @_brandonartis.