Another one bites the dust, that’s it for Rifflandia 2023!
What a festival it was! This year, Riff was spread out over two weekends for the first time, saw a record amount of artists come in and more people coming out to see the festival than ever before.
Kate Yahn, a Vancouverite and her supergroup full of other Riff performers took to the side stage first.
Her music was steeped in 80s pop-rock influences and her voice was powerful enough to back up that iconic sound.
Yahn’s band was comprised of members of King Fuzz, Ivan Hartle and other Rifflandia 2023 bands that played last weekend at Electric Avenue.
They released a new song this past Friday leading up to their performance at the festival. Hung Up is a beautiful love song about falling for someone and never having that love returned.
As she was playing in the background, the first of many couples were married at Lovelandia.
The love birds exchanged rings, vows and a kiss in front of their closest friends, family and about a thousand strangers but by the looks on their face, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Later on another couple was married off and had a surprise guest at their nuptials. bbno$ showed up and acted as best man for the ceremony.
After Yahn played, the YYJ Choirs stepped up to the main stage with the largest cast of singers they’ve had yet!
They sang Lizzo, Dua Lipa and closed out their set with a Talking Heads cover, giving a nod to Mavis Staples and her band who had covered Slippery People the day prior.
All the way from Toronto, Jesse Gold came up to the side stage next and played smooth blues infused rock music.
He was charismatic and his band was incredibly tight.
One fun thing they did was they led into all their songs with riffs from popular heavy metal and rock songs from the 80s.
Their last song even featured riffs and lyrics about the popular 90s animated TV show Inspector Gadget.
Tia Wood took to the main stage next.
She is a Cree-Salish musician who was accompanied by her best friend and collaborator on guitar.
She began her set with a traditional Cree song composed by her father, Earl Wood.
Wood’s voice was incredibly refined and she proved it by singing I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James and performing the iconic song perfectly.
Beloved Victorian band Miina was on the side stage after Tia Wood’s performance.
They are a relatively new band but made up completely by members of Carmanah, who have been a mainstay of the Victoria music scene for ages.
Over the pandemic, they decided to launch the new project and have played a few times this year since Carmanah’s finale at the McPherson Playhouse this spring.
They were elated to be able to say that they had opened for a Spice Girl because Melanie C was up next on the main stage.
“Ready to get spicey,” is how the former Spice Girl greeted the thousands of fans anxiously awaiting her DJ set which was announced at the eleventh hour.
She only played one Spice Girls song which was mixed with some energetic club beats before she moved on swiftly to more current and contemporary pop music.
Melanie C is 49-years-old now and is still rocking a six-pack just like when she was known as ‘Sporty Spice.’
Her sound was energetic and her mixes were really interesting and creatively done.
The highlight was when she mashed up Charlie XCX’s Hot In It with System of a Down’s Chop Suey.
The Lafflandia stage was also a highlight of the last two weekends, featuring some of Canada’s best comedians.
Sunday at Lafflandia had mostly local comedians as the focus, because Dan Duvall, the organizer of comedy at Riff wanted to show folks how talented the Victoria scene is.
Emily Woods and Julya van der Sloot were the focus of one of the sets which was at full capacity and wound up turning several people away because the HarbourCats changeroom where comedy takes place at Riff was jam-packed full of people already.
Herbie Hancock… Wow!
The father of funk-jazz was an outlier on the festival’s lineup and many people didn’t know what to expect.
What they got was one of the best musical performances Rifflandia has ever had in all its years.
Hancock is 83-years-old and still shreds the piano, keys and keytar as if he was in his 20s.
The highlight of the show was that he played a couple songs from his iconic 1979 release ‘Head Hunters.’
It’s also worth noting he had the longest and loudest ovation following his performance as all Rifflandians were left in complete awe of him and his band.
Last up on the side stage for 2023’s events at The Park was KALEO.
All the way from Iceland, the group made their way to Victoria to play to thousands of eager fans.
They wound up cancelling all other tour dates other than Rifflandia, so Victoria should feel lucky they decided it was worth it to pull through.
KALEO played all their hits and whistled through the stunning sunset which was happening before their eyes as they gazed out upon their fans.
They closed their set with Way Down We Go, their most streamed song; it has over 800 million streams on Spotify alone and that showed on Sunday night as everyone in attendance sang the words back to the band.
To close out the evening, Rifflandia booked Stephen Marley, son of the dub and reggae legend Bob Marley.
Stephen is a well accomplished musician in his own right and also pays homage to his father by covering several songs in his set.
As he and his band played, a smoky haze emerged in the crowd song with flags of yellow, red and green.
His set was the perfect way to wind down after two weekends that were filled to the brim with so many amazing musical acts.
And that’s it! That concludes another year of fun at Riff, Victoria’s biggest and best music festival!
What was your favourite act of this year’s Rifflandia? Let us know in the comments!