Live Review: Vancouver Island Cultural (VIC) Festival @ St. Ann’s Academy – June 16th 2012

As Led Zeppelin once wrote, “It’s just a little rain”, and to me, the majority of those who attended this year’s Vancouver Island Cultural (VIC) Festival thought of the weekend weather as just that, as “just a little rain” as they danced, sang and drank not phased by the liquid sunshine. In it’s 2nd year, VIC Fest, staged at St. Ann’s Academy in downtown Victoria, did not disappoint. I attended VIC Fest last year not knowing what to expect and went away stoked on all the Vancouver Island talent that the organizers were able to bring together, not to mention on Jon and Roy who headlined the event; so I had high hopes for this year. There was a similar set up to year one, with multiple local food and drink vendors, WolfSheep Arthouse, merchandise vendors, as well as a killer line-up including Ashleigh Eymann, Rocky Mountain Rebel Music, Mindel Beach Markets, Cheesecake Burlesque Revue and Rococode. This year VIC fest added a second stage, had more DJ sets and had the wine sampling in a tented area closer to the rest of the beverage sampling. There was also more emphasis on the all-ages aspect with crafty activities for kids earlier on. It was a fun-filled day.

Ellyn’s Recommended Best Beer: Phillips’s Blue Buck, Best Wine: Enrico Winery’s Cabernet Libre, Best Eats: (it’s a tie between) Pig’s Pulled-Pork Poutine and WannaWafel’s sweet dessert waffle. What were your favourites at VIC Fest this year?

Three awesome artists at VIC Fest this year were, Vince Vacarro, Kytami and Current Swell. Vince Vacarro, came on the stage closer to the end of the night and got the crowd energized after the beer and wine sampling had closed. He played fan favourites like “Costa Rica”, “The Dove” and “Catch a Fire” as the rain subsided. His upbeat surf pop was great to dance to and catchy to sing along with. Another reason to dig Vince is because he is environmentally minded and has stopped producing physical cd’s because of a concern for plastics in our oceans. You can get Vince’s music online here:

Kytami is an artist that I had not heard of before VIC Fest this year. She played with Rocky Mountain Rebel Music earlier in the day (on the song “Wild One”), then had her own set after Vince Vacarro. Her intense mix of fiddle and electronic… that’s right fiddle and electronic …is unlike anything I had ever heard before. Her rocker energy is also unlike anything I had ever seen before from a fiddler. This unique artist overlayed her rapid fiddling in with the ska/bass beats that her DJ was spinning. She even rapped a bit! Check her out on the VIC Fest lineup page: (

Current Swell took the stage last to close the festival. I made my way to the front as they were the band I was most excited to see. As recent winners of the PEAK Performance Project and natives of Victoria I felt proud to see them. Near the beginning of their set they played my favourite song “Young and Able”, which featured Dave St. Jean wailing on the trombone. (I love when a band plays your favourite song because every song after that feels like icing on the cake). They followed it up with “I Wanna Bird”, “Coming Home” and “An Eye for an Eye”. At one point they told us to turn around to face the St. Ann’s Academy building behind us and to dance to all of those who were still in the beer gardens. I turned around and realized that according to the number of backs-of-heads that I saw how many more people were out on the field dancing to Current Swell than I thought. I couldn’t even see the beer gardens anymore. The boys continued to engage the crowd through their set to do some fast clapping to their new single “Too Cold” and to sing along to their beautiful ballad “Brad’s Song”. It was a great way to end the daylong celebration.

I would definitely recommend attending VIC Fest as it was a great way to celebrate and experience our island culture. If you are checking out VIC Fest next year, here are my tips:

  1. Come early, time wisely– We arrived around 1pm (doors were at noon), which was just enough time to leisurely explore the wine sampling tent but it was not enough time for the beer sampling, we found ourselves rushing through and waiting in longer lines.
  2. Be ready to open you eyes to new types of food & drink, and music that you didn’t know existed, even in your own backyard
  3. Bring your kids! This year’s event was all ages and had activities for everyone
  4. And lastly, bring a rain jacket :)

For more information on V.I.C. Fest, check here –