The third annual Pemberton Music Festival kicked off last night, featuring sets by superstars Snoop Dogg, Arkells, and Bassnectar. More than 100,000 hipsters, from near and far, are expected to flock to the festival over the course of this weekend.
It’s been 361 long days since Kendrick Lamar wrapped (rapped?) up Pemby Fest 2015 and fans have been waiting with baited breath for this year’s version to commence. We’ll admit that we were a little skeptical when festival organizers came up with a lineup that sounded more nostalgic than new-school; we even ran an opinion piece that morning that read, in part, “now THAT’S what we call the 90’s!”
But that certainly didn’t stop Pemby Fest 2016 from becoming a near-sellout show. The event has become a Canadian institution over the last couple of summers and with the Squamish Valley Music Festival going bye-bye, it’s sure to be around for several more to come.
Thursday night’s main draw was hip hop legend Snoop Dogg (who also headlined Pemby Fest two years ago). Were fans excited to see the rap superstar spit tracks from his new album Cool Aid? For shizzle. And why were they decked out in fresh and funky rain gear for most of his set? For drizzle. But despite the crappy weather, which is expected to continue all weekend, Snoop had no problem turning the festival grounds into a raucous, soaking wet block party… at least for an hour or so.
“I love Canada, and I know Canada loves me,” Snoop said to huge cheers before dedicating “Beautiful” to the “beautiful ladies of BC.” He also referred to his classic jam “Gin N’ Juice” as “the Canadian national anthem” (which is still less offensive than what “lone wolf” Remigio Pereira did to “O’ Canada” at an MLB game earlier this week).
On Thursday, homegrown talent was represented on all four festival stages. Nelson singer-songwriter Shawn Hook celebrated his “45th day in a row living in a suitcase” with a killer afternoon set at Bass Camp, telling fans that “BC is the most beautiful place on earth.”
After performing a free concert at Whistler’s Olympic Plaza the night before, Toronto’s Arkells rocked the hell out of the Mt. Currie stage. The band is no stranger to the festival circuit – lead singer Max Kerman dedicated “Never Thought That This Would Happen” to friends who met at an unnamed festival and, after indulging in some salacious substances, “rocked the tent for the weekend.”
The persistent rain that plagued afternoon sets by The Elwins and The Zolas began to clear up just as Grace Potter took the Pemberton stage at 5:15 pm. No one was more excited for the change in weather than Potter herself – she ditched her cape after just one song and asked the crowd to reciprocate by removing an article of clothing in return. The singer mostly performed tracks from last year’s Midnight album but threw in the sentimental favourite “Stars” for the hardcore fans.
The party continued into the wee hours last night, with Cypress Hill dropping beats from the Mt. Currie stage at 11:30 pm, while hip hop duo Rae Sremmurd kept fans dancing in the dust til 2 am at Bass Camp. Day 2 of Pemby Fest 2016 will feature performances by J. Cole, FKA Twigs, and Miguel.
Some photos for this article were provided by Brandon Artis. Connect with him at @_brandonartis.