The annual EDM and hip-hop festival Fvded in the Park took over downtown Surrey, BC this weekend.
The two-day event delivered energetic music, over the top visuals, barely clothed attendees consuming copious amounts of psychotropics, and, unfortunately, an event access issue that caused many patrons some serious frustration.
Starting mid-day Friday, excited concert goers turned out in mass, lining up at the only entry point, across the street from the King George Skytrain Station.
The queue grew and grew and then it grew some more. Only those that opted to have their wristbands shipped to them ahead of time, and actually received them, were entering the grounds quickly.
There were a number of personal accounts brought to our attention. People wrote about waiting over five hours to get through the line and other about the dozens of latecomers that cut the line making it worse for those that were following the rules.
We spoke with attendee Keisha Gratton and here is what she has experienced:
“When I first got there I was multiple blocks down from the festival but honestly the final stretch in the gates was the worst part. People were just cutting in right at the gate and it was so congested, I’m 5’2 and was there by myself and honestly, I couldn’t see anything and had no idea what direction I was supposed to be moving in or anything. I was pressed between tall men and had backpacks to the face, there were a couple security guards but they were literally useless. Some girls were being pulled out because they literally couldn’t handle being in there anymore. The whole thing was such a joke and I’m so disappointed in them. “
Similar stories were whispered around the park throughout the day and night, and it just seemed to leave a really bad taste in the mouth of many.
I walked into the fest around 5 pm. I missed a good portion of the line chaos but was still affected by delays, it took me about 45 minutes to proceed through the gate.
Of those that were delayed in getting in, it seemed to amplify their eagerness to get the party started once they were actually in. As the sun started to hit the horizon, things felt aggressive on the grounds. A lot of pent-up frustration being burnt off as quickly as possible with drug use and general intensity.
By this point, A$AP Ferg was taking over the Pacific Stage. He stormed around with a fierceness, showcasing his lyrical prowess, and soon all that entry pain just faded away. It quickly turned into a huge unified dance party, with smiling faces in abundance.
The mass of people before him swelled and pressed forward, eager to get closer. I tried to work through the crowd to get some photos but it was near impossible. Unfortunately, this festival does not allow official media into the festival photo pit areas unless they are from the promoter’s own team. Which has rubbed a lot of local photographers the wrong way, causing them to just skip the event year after year.
I myself usually go just to photograph the crowd, I really don’t pay too much attention to trying to capture the artists. I mean I point my camera at them and take pictures but its really disheartening after the tenth person tells you to put your camera down because you are blocking their view. I feel for the patrons, and really try my best to not disrupt their experience.
The festival does let us plant out cameras at the soundboard, which is about 75 feet from the stage, but at that distance, you are just taking shots of the production unless you have some serious equipment. So, I just take what I can get and that is that. No harm, no foul. I am appreciative of the opportunity.
At one point I looked around and saw a good portion of the giant crowd break-off from watching Ferg, I followed suit. Soon I was at the Northwest Stage, under the giant tent, and Canadian DJ REZZ was kicking things off.
Things were intense, heavy weighted breaks and complex layers of auditory bliss. I watched wide-eyed as the pulsing lights tickled through my brain. This set of droning tracks left me captivated. I looked around at the fans dancing wholeheartedly, sweating under the bright stage lights and having the time of their lives.
The guests ranged in age but the majority were quite young, exploring their youth and pushing their limits.
Again, a portion those watching broke off. So, I again followed along and ended up back at the main stage, this time to see American rapper and night-one headliner Future step out.
The vibe was good, people were excited.
He dazzled us with his big hits and even engaged in choreographed dance routines with his crew on stage
At one point he brought Ferg out and they performed their track “New Line” together. Despite some small audio issues from where I was standing, it sounded fantastic and added more fuel to the firey crowd.
Those woes of earlier were completely gone and people were just living in the moment.
This was a point when things felt a little crazy. The audience was lost in the moment and I just watched the amorphous blob they created pulsing up and down to the beat.
Rich colours pouring out from the stage, painting the tips of their outstretched fingers. Flames shot ferociously from the corners of the stage’s scaffolding.
It was visually stunning and that palpable energy coursed through me, giving me goosebumps.
Night one was in the bag, it was time to get some sleep.
Day 1 Photos
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After the chaos that was day one, I decided to show up a little early just in case, but there was no problem getting in this time.
The day started off cloudy, and I kicked things off with local Vancouver DJ Tails. Sitting under the big tent and replenishing my electrolytes with copious amounts of….juice.
The clouds took some time to burn off, so, I walked around and took photos of the little ravers in their traditional garb, beaded bracelets and crystallized goggles were plentiful.
I spent the majority of my day from that point over at the main stage. Saturday was all about two acts for me; Kehlani and Brockhampton.
American musical group Brockhampton were undeniable in their presence and captivated the crowd with their set. The members were each dressed the same, fitting in with their bad-ass boy band persona. Their performance was as much about the music and delivery as it was about the art, the songs were filled with drama and theatrics and epic emotion. I was impressed with the ferocity of their delivery, they are hungry and working hard for their dinner.
I had high hopes for their set and they went far and beyond what I had hoped.
It is no wonder these guys have grown to top-tier status in North America over the past year.
Next, it was American singer Kehlani who graced the stage. She was refreshing. After a day of mostly men, and harder beats, it was nice to have something with some soul and poetic passion.
She strutted across the stage like a lioness, owning the moment with a firm determination but still keeping things fun and dancey. Her voice was velvety and she often just looked out at the fans with a big grin on her face. There was a humbleness in her eyes.
I have been trying to see Kehlani for a few years now, but it always fell through. It was wonderful to finally watch her own the night.
After her set, I just walked through the crowd taking pictures of people and let the music become the background to my adventure.
I could feel the heat from the stage as lights and fireballs flashed in the night sky.
Saturday was the better of the two days, all that animosity in the air on night one was gone.
Hopefully, these hiccups with entry can be smoothed out by next year. It would probably be helpful if they just baked in the price of mailing out all the wristbands ahead of time, this would definitely alleviate some of the initial pressure when doors open.
The people working the gates and security and health tents and all the rest were spot on, they worked hard and had things on the ground nailed down. I never felt unsafe or felt like anyone around me was not being monitored in terms of their consumption and mental state. All of that was well managed and well-orchestrated and I applaud the staff across the board for their dedication.
The people behind the scenes of this festival work hard and plan ahead, but come Sunday morning the social media feeds were full of angry people yelling those day one line issues, which is understandable. It will be interesting to see how the festival handles this issue, will they provide any compensation for those affected? Time will tell I guess.
To the artists, I thank you for a stellar weekend.
To the festival, I thank you for working hard but hope you learn from any missteps this year.