Oh Squamish, Squamish…wherefore art thou, Squamish?
After six hugely successful years in the festival biz, the folks behind the Squamish Valley Music Festival abruptly pulled the plug on the 2016 edition last Wednesday.
No specific reason was given for the cancellation, although the lousy Canadian dollar may have been partly to blame.
So where do broken hearts go? They’ll go to Pemberton, of course. Just one day after the SVMF was cancelled, the folks at Pemberton took to their Facebook page to announce that “#PembyFest is calling, and everyone’s invited.”
Vancity Buzz covered the last two Squamish Valley Music Festivals and, like thousands of other local music fans, we are definitely mourning its demise. So, as we try to come to terms with our loss, we decided to put together a list of things we’ll miss about the event, alongside a couple of things we certainly won’t…
The music, the fans, the beautiful backdrop. There are plenty of reasons why we’re going to miss Squamish this summer…
The SVMF was always a great showcase for homegrown talent – Montreal’s Arcade Fire headlined the 2014 edition and Toronto’s Drake performed last year. The huge acts will be just fine with the cancellation of the festival, but it’s the lesser-known Canadian talent who count on the exposure who will really feel the loss.
Past versions of the event featured breakthrough performances by G-Eazy and A Tribe Called Red, while the site’s Blueprint Arena stage played host to local EDM stars like A-Trak and Adventure Club.
One of our favourite things to do in between acts was checking out the weird and wacky fashions in the crowd. We could always count on Squamish to attract an eclectic mix of pretty boys, badass girls and hipsters of all shapes and sizes, and the 2015 edition certainly didn’t disappoint.
Our mission that year was to count the manbuns and the Lana Del Rey-style flower crowns in attendance to see which trend came out on top. After tallying up hundreds of each all weekend, we were forced to declare a tie.
It takes a village to run a festival, and SVMF is no exception. Roughly 3,000 hopefuls applied for the coveted volunteering gigs each year, and the festival had more than 500 of them onsite each and every day. We saw these fantastic volunteers pass out water to the thirsty, carry camping equipment for the lazy and pick up trash left behind by the douchey.
Despite the scorching heat and the shortage of showering facilities, love was always in the air at the Squamish Valley Music Festival. We ran into lots of folks who saw nothing wrong with a little bump n’ grind between shows, and hookup apps like Tinder and Grindr were busy all weekend. Blame it on the stunning views or the sappy sounds of headliner Bruno Mars, who in 2014 encouraged the crowd to “dig out some birth control for later.”
Not everybody was feeling the love, however – a CBC reporter filed a complaint with the RCMP last year after an overzealous (and possibly over-served) fan kissed her during a live broadcast from the festival grounds.
And the not so good…
It wasn’t all sunshine and stunning scenery however. In fact if we take our rose tinted glasses off for a moment there are a few things that we certainly wont miss about the festival…
The impossible choices
When it came to headliners, the folks at SVMF really outdid themselves each year but with so much talent and so little time, it was virtually impossible for fans to catch every set on their bucket lists. The layout of the festival certainly didn’t help – the two main stages were on opposite ends of the site which meant attendees had to make some tough scheduling choices.
For some bizarre reason, sets by Foster The People and Nas were scheduled simultaneously in 2014, while fans last year were forced to choose between performances by A$AP Rocky and Of Monsters And Men. Other Sophie’s choices that Squamish-goers were forced to endure included Kaskade versus Mumford & Sons, and Broken Bells versus The ROOTS.
The kitty litter
Fans who camped out during the 2014 edition of SVMF received an email just days before the event saying that, due to “unforeseen circumstances”, the grass at the campsites was being replaced by sand. Campers were strongly encouraged to “embrace a beach-like attitude” on the SVMF website, but one man’s beach is another man’s giant kitty litter box.
Fans who shelled out hundreds more dollars for the VIP camping experience also slept in the sand, but were given access to an air conditioned bathroom. Might not sound like much, but after seeing more than one camper in the Circle Camping area using the “beach-like atmosphere” as an actual litter box, it was a much-needed slice of sanitary heaven.
Lineups at music festivals are to be expected, but the wait times at SVMF were a whole other breed of crazy. Hundreds of attendees stood for hours outside of the Commodore Ballroom last summer just to pick up their pre-purchased festival and camping vouchers, and it just got worse from there.
Fans braced long lines in the hot sun for showers, phone chargers, and the water refill station; those who gave up on the water line and moved over to the beer line were equally unimpressed when the site’s cashless wristband system crashed all weekend long. “Never again,” we heard uttered more than once, which just goes to show you that you’ve got to be careful what you wish for, people.
So sayonara for now, Squamish. And as we patiently wait for the Pemberton Music Festival to kick off, here’s a look back at some of our favourite photos from Squamishes past: