The unveiling of summer music festival lineups has become a hotly anticipated dead-of-winter event.
It starts with The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — either the granddaddy of music fests or hipster hooey, depending on who you ask — which kicks off the season every April. Packed with up-and-comers, at least one major reunion (or hologram) and massive headliners, it gives music fans a sample of the festival rosters to come.
In the corridor this year, we have two major music festivals to look forward to: the Squamish Valley Music Festival, slated for Aug. 8 to 10, and the reincarnated Pemberton Music Festival, running July 18 to 20.
The former released its lineup last week and it features the biggest headliners in the festival’s five-year history, including Canadian indie rock mainstays Arcade Fire, veteran rapper Eminem and Superbowl half-time act Bruno Mars. Also on the list are notable acts like The Roots, Artic Monkeys and Broken Bells. Festival organizers promised to step it up a notch this year in hopes of drawing 35,000 people, more than double the 17,000 who attended in 2013.
But organizers must have also considered the new competition. The Pemberton Music Festival roster has been shrouded in mystery since New Orleans-based concert promotion company HUKA Entertainment announced last September that it would be reviving the one-time Live Nation festival. All we know so far: burgeoning electro-pop Haligonian Rich Aucoin will be there, along with foul-mouthed comedy favourites The Trailer Park Boys.
HUKA initially said at the launch party for the event that the lineup would be revealed in January. That has since been pushed back to this month. One thing is certain though: locals have high hopes. The initial batch of tickets — dubbed the “Founder’s Program”—sold out in 15 minutes without a hint of the acts coming to the valley.
But rumblings around town have the two festivals pitted against each other. Music fans are debating whether they’ll attend the one with the strongest lineup or scrimp and save to go to both. Either way, the competition is good news for local music fans. Pemberton’s lineup will need to be as big as it was in 2008 — when everyone from Jay Z to Tom Petty performed — to rival the offerings in Squamish.
It’s also unlikely that there will be overlap in the performers thanks to radius clauses that most festivals make musicians sign to prevent them from playing anywhere in the area weeks, or even months, before the festival.
For now, let’s enjoy some good old-fashioned speculation — will the reunited Outkast be on the list? Maybe Bruce Springsteen will stop by as part of his High Hopes tour — and revel in the anticipation of the fun to come.