Rock The Shores, Vancouver Island’s largest music festival, roared through it’s fourth year without a hitch. A 10,000+ person concert held in a beautiful outside recreation space on the Western Shore outside Victoria, RTS drew music fans from all across southern Vancouver Island for a multi-day offering of rock and roll music. Founded by Atomique Productions, the same folks who run Rifflandia, RTS is a loud, festival success that continues to improve year by year.
This year’s festival includes alumni artists such as Saskatoon’s Sheepdogs. A bunch of rock and rollers well recognized since their success with Rolling Stone Magazine, this was there second consecutive year of the festival. Calm and collected yet locked in the groove, the Sheepdog’s driving rock stepped up the good times as the crowd guzzled down Phillips Beer in the hot afternoon sun. Overall, the Sheepdogs sounded fuller, more comfortable and all around improved than their set a year back. Despite the relative simplicity of their boogie rock genre, the band have a special shine; they also sell their vinyl records for a mere $10 each at their shows. How cool is that?
Edward Sharp & the Magnetic Zeroes captured the imagination of audience familiar with the band since their performance at Rifflandia. Standing with a magnanimous air, frontman Alex Ebert carried an undeniable charm as he stood at the front of the stage and basked in the smiling faces of the audience. The band had no problems conjuring up a quick intimacy with the crowd early in their set but the magic began to sputter by the end of their performance. The band’s signature bullet “Home” felt diminished without the vocals of former band member Jade Castrinos; there were no female vocalists in the band’s current incarnation. Sharp guided the audience through the first word of each lyrical line which successfully spurred the lyrical memory of the crowd. The starry number then descended into some strange audience participation before sputtering out; it was a little sad.
Coveted headliners, Ohio blues/garage rockers the Black Keys started off with a bang of crunchy guitar riffs and large, bright video screens. Originally of humble bar-gig origins, the Black Keys are now one of the largest acts in popular rock and roll, their inclusion on the RTS lineup attracted many younger music fans to the blossoming festival.
Core membersDan Auerbach (vocals/guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums) launched through a blistering set of bluesy radio hits with heaps of professionalism but only a dash of intimacy. The band sounded loud, even when stripped down to their original two-piece arrangement. Steady until the end, Auerbach’s crunchy riffs delighted the massive audience, who happily sang along with the single “Lonely Boy.” Vancouver Island can easily be missed by touring acts; a visit from the Black Keys, one of this current generation’s most important rock and roll artists, was an unexpected pleasure and considerable achievement. Hats off to Rock the Shores.