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Drunken Dispatches from Victoria’s Rifflandia

September 28, 2011 | by  |  Music

Leaving the mainland Friday evening, we only managed one day and two nights of the epic Rifflandia experience.

The vibe of our first evening was excellent – everyone out for the same music and experience. Ecstasy was in liberal application, as evidenced by the propensity of wide-eyed dancers.

We arrived early at our first show, expecting line-ups, but access to the venues was easy and without wait. We danced our asses off at Lucky Bar until finally heading home. It made for a late start, the next day.

But the weather smiled upon us, and the organizers did an excellent job of caging in the animals, while providing an experience everyone could enjoy.

It was with startling frequency that we saw people riding on each other’s shoulders. Girls on girls, girls on boys, and boys on guys.

After a whole day soaking in sun, booze, and tunes, the evening turned us to Phillips Brewery. Rumours were circulating that it was an excellent venue, accessible only through a caged walkway.

A loading dock served as the stage, adding to the rough edge of the place. Down in the pit or up above, the views were excellent, but the beer lineup was an absolute shit-show. Every man, woman, and child for themselves. And the sound was godawful. The frat party vibe, coupled with the early closure of the venue (a result of noise complaints from the previous two nights) drove us to a more subdued space.

What we found was the reason we’ll return next year: a 40 foot by 40 foot venue, occupied by a seated crowd. The acoustics were amazing, and, bleary-eyed, we joined the sitting fans and basked in the acoustic strains of Royal Wood. The band itself was unremarkable, but the experience was anything but. As the crowd sang along, the frontman gradually unplugged the instruments, leaving nothing but the voices of the spectators filling the space. A magical ending to an excellent festival.

Photos: Liam Hanham

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