Roadie #42 - Blog #17
July 30, 2008 11:02 pm
#42 becomes a mountain person
We arrive in Whistler pretty dazed and confused. The travel has been fairly brutal once again - but hey,nobody said it was easy...
All I knew about this in advance was that it's a festival. I think I vaguely got the idea that there would be some trees. But the van ride from the airport to Whistler lays it all out before us in glorious technicolour. Mountains, lakes, glacial streams, it's all here. The road hairpins its way around the mountains revealing another breathtaking vista with every turn. By the time we reach the hotel, pretty much the entire crew have decided that they're going to knock touring on the head and retire here to write their memoirs. OK, maybe that's just me, but it's pretty much as gorgeous as planet earth gets here, so suddenly the sleep deprivation seems a little more worthwhile.
The fact that the hotel itself is an out of season ski-lodge can't help but bring to mind 'The Shining'. This doesn't improve when I meet Production Assistant Marguerite in the lobby at 3am for the load-in. She tells me there is only one road in and out, which has been closed due to an accident. I decide to go back to bed, but the first sign of a little bloke on a trike shouting "Red rum" and I'm off.
Cutting to the show itself, I can't not mention standing at the side of the stage to watch Jay-Z's set. Notonly is he more than able to blow a crowd away, but the punters are right up for it. As for his band - well any tighter and they'd have imploded. He "bigs up" our boys generously before he leaves and walks away from a job well done - not to mention leaving the bar set rather high.
Never ones to shy away from a challenge, our fellas throw themselves into it with abandon. It's one of those size crowds where you start to wonder whether the people at the back can see for the curvature of the earth, but they're clearly trying to project right to the very back. As they steam into In My Place, every part of Will's drumkit is bouncing,rocking and swinging in an almost cartoon-like slo-mo explosion. It looks like he's literally trying to break his kit to pieces - and may well succeed!
Inevitably, the hits get the rowdiest response. Festivals are ever thus. It's telling, though, that despite the prospect of utterly horrendous traffic and the temptation of leaving early, the crowd hardly dwindles until the outro is run. It's been the first run for the Pemberton festival, as well as the first festival show for us on this tour. I reckon we all did pretty damn well.
B.C. music festival that attracted 40,000 fans may need new venue
VANCOUVER - The dust hasn't settled after all at the Pemberton music festival in British Columbia.
The Agricultural Land Commission says the festival, which featured headliners Coldplay, Jay-Z, Tom Petty and Nine Inch Nails and drew about 40,000 people to the area, is inappropriate for prime farmland and promoters should find a new venue if they want to repeat the event next year.
"The success in this case could further compromise the agricultural capability of the land," commission executive director Colin Fry said Tuesday.
Fry said the commission met March 12 to grudgingly approve the July 25-27 festival as "non-farm use" on 50 hectares of agricultural land for 2008 only.
Minutes from the meeting show the festival could be held "for this year, and this year only" and that further festivals would not be approved because "long term use of this site as a concert venue will debilitate this high quality agricultural land."
Issues include soil compaction, soil contamination, construction of permanent facilities such as roads and buildings and the potential for the event to expand in coming years.
The commission also expressed displeasure that organizers of the event did not file an application until Feb. 6, putting pressure on the commission to give approval with limited time to consider the issue.
Fry said the promoter has the legal right to reapply to the commission to hold the concert on the same site in 2009, but that "they do so in full knowledge of the decision made many months ago that the commission is not supportive of repeated, continued events on this site."
The festival was considered a success despite dusty conditions and long traffic lineups.
Shane Bourbonnais, president of touring and business development for concert promoters Live Nation Canada, said that if the ALC doesn't allow the use of this piece of land, the future of the festival will be in jeopardy.
"We have looked and looked and looked and we really think that this site . . . is the best possible site in Pemberton," he said.
He remains optimistic about the future of the festival.
"The landowners had a great time and they would love to have it back," he said, adding that they made more money in rental fees from Live Nation than they could have farming.
Besides, Bourbonnais said, the farmers on the land - the majority of which is owned by Ravens Crest Developments Ltd. - managed to get one hay crop harvested before the festival and may even get another out of the field before the end of the season.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said the window is still open for the current site to be used, since a land-use application hasn't even been submitted to the ALC.
First, Sturdy said, the village will consult with residents and stakeholders about whether they want to hold the festival again. So far, he said, the response from locals has been "overwhelmingly positive."
Sturdy, who owns a farm not far from the festival site, said it could be frustrating if the ALC overrules the wishes of the community and Live Nation.
"Food production is by no means optimized in the Pemberton valley," he said, adding "there's no question" the land can be remediated after the festival.
"The grass is growing," he said. "In fact, if you drove by there today you'd be hard-pressed to know that a festival took place there a few weeks ago."
Asked how much of Pemberton is within the agricultural land reserve, Sturdy said: "The whole valley."
If forbidden from having the festival on ALR, Sturdy said Live Nation has one other option: heading up the highway to Mount Currie and the Lil'wat Nation's reserve land, which is outside of the ALC's jurisdiction.
The Vancouver Sun could not reach a Lil'wat spokesperson on Tuesday.
The 16th annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival took place in the B.C. Interior on agricultural land two weeks before the Pemberton Festival, raising the question of a double standard.
Fry said every application is considered on an individual basis, and that the Pemberton site "from a soils perspective is significantly better" than Merritt, B.C., a dry predominantly haying and ranchland grazing area.
"Merritt is proof the commission is prepared to look at these activities," he said.
The Pemberton site included 50 hectares of class one and class two farmland capable of growing a wide range of crops.