Disclaimer: The following is Magmazing Music‘s favourite Local Artist Moments of 2017. All of the videos featured in this article were all shot by Magmazing Music and are his personal favourites of the year. This article is not meant to represent all music in Victoria. It is based on one person’s coverage and clearly misses a number of genres.
Oh hey! It’s mid-January and I bet you were were wondering why my yearly “Top 20 local Artist Moments” list hasn’t been posted yet? Actually, I doubt anyone was wondering because no one has brought it up.
Well, after writing these lists since 2012, this past year has been rather challenging and frustrating. First of all, I lost my main YouTube channel. If you haven’t heard the story yet, my “Magmazing Music” YouTube channel was terminated after a rights management company representing the Coachella Music Festival flagged more than 70 videos I had shot at the festival over the years for copyright strikes. Three strikes gets your account shut down.
That channel was my pride and joy. An archive of 3000+ videos from hundreds of concerts from festivals to shows in Vancouver and Victoria dating back to April of 2007. The raw footage still exists, but most of it will never see the light of day on the internet again. Thankfully, when I launched Victoria Music Scene five years ago, I had the foresight to launch a separate channel specifically for footage of Victoria bands. But the loss of so much kinda crushed my spirit a bit.
The second thing that made things complicated and a little disappointing is that a significant number of videos I wanted to feature in the “top 20” this year I don’t have clearance to share. This was a minor issue last year. It turned into a roadblock this year. There are a few reasons why things don’t get clearance. I mentioned a couple last year so there’s really no point rehashing the details.
With that said, I flat out can’t rank a “Top 20 Local Artists Moments” list when it’s not truly the best 20 moments I’ve covered. The question after coming to that conclusion was, “Do I put this article ‘on hiatus’ like so many other things have gone on hiatus in 2017?” My answer is no. The whole point of recapping the year has and always will be promoting local music even if some of what I’d like to promote is missing. So instead of a top 20 list, I decided in late December to post some of my favourite moments from the footage that has been approved to be seen and put it in mostly chronological order. I think I ended up writing blurbs for close to 30 artists.
So here ya go. Some of my favourite moments covering locals artists in 2017.
– Adam Lee (Magmazing Music)
Violet at Lucky Bar- Luxury (January 14, 2017)
This was the first time seeing Theresa Pasaluko’s new project ‘Violet’. They only had two or three shows prior to this one since forming in May 2016. They performed liked seasoned vets which isn’t a surprise when you assemble a cast of all-stars in Matt Bromley (Shoestring Bourbon, Electric Timber Co.) Bob Gronette (Man Made Lake), Sean Thompson (The New Souls) and Aaron Scoones (BadKids)
Wise Child at Lucky Bar- “Sad Song 9” (January 14, 2017)
In one of the first shows I covered in 2017 Wise Child debuted some new music at Lucky Bar. In fact, this song that at the time had a working title of ‘Sad Song 9’ was written a week before the show. I remember thinking “whoa” while shooting this song and it was a moment that cemented them as one of my favourite local bands right now. The irony in all this is I recently found out that this song isn’t going to be on their upcoming album.
Iron Skies at Lucky Bar- This And Are That & Old Yeller (January 14, 2017)
I walked into this show not knowing a thing about Iron Skies. When they came on stage I realized, “I know these guys. They’re all in Shoestring Bourbon,” another Vicctoria band I’m very familiar with. When they started playing, I was surprised to hear a Violent Femmes vibe and to see the dance floor packed with people. How had I not heard more about Iron Skies before now?
Fallbrigade at the Victoria Event Centre- Hurt (Nine Inch Nails cover) [January 29, 2017]
First of all, saying Fallbrigade covered Nine Inch Nails sounds a bit odd when you consider how different both bands’ music styles are, but this cover of ‘Hurt’ that they originally recorded as part of being a Zone Band of The Month in 2016 and performed at their CD release show in February works so well. Not only did they release a full length album, they performed at a number of festivals and even had music featured on the soundtrack of a Mexican romantic-comedy. What’s next for Fallbrigade? The answer will have to wait as lead singer Esther Youngclouds is expecting her first baby anytime now.
Fox Glove feat. Jesse Roper at Alix Goolden Hall- White Buffalo (February 4, 2017)
At Fox Glove’s ‘Let The LOVE In’ show in February, they debuted a new song ‘White Buffalo’ with special guest Jesse Roper. The acoustics in Alix Goolden Hall made for a perfect setting for the song’s debut.
Coffee Eyes at Logan’s Pub- Comfortable (February 9, 2017)
Coffee Eyes is a band I was used to seeing as an acoustic duo that relied on the strength of Joel Coseetee and Xana Morris’ vocals. Walking into this show at Logan’s Pub I instantly though “holy crap, they have a full band!” Not only a full band, but one of some familiar faces including Ashley Gelaude (Everybody Left/The Leg Up Program) on drums and Matt Harder (Trace The Sky) on guitar.
Groceries at Vinyl Envy- Speedwalker (February 18, 2017)
Seeing Groceries for the first time at Vinyl Envy, they’re a fun band to watch. Their performance even had a homeless guy grooving outside the venue.
Peach Pyramid at Vinyl Envy- Repeating Myself (February 18, 2017)
Peach Pyramid (aka Jen Severtson) was one of my favourite new discoveries of 2017. Her vocals and style remind me a bit of Zooey Deschanel. Her indie surf pop sound has a more dreamy and melancholy quality. Peach Pyramid is someone I wish I had covered more this year, but it seemed like every other show she performed conflicted with a bunch of other shows.
SweeetAction at Lucky Bar- Wait (February 25, 2017)
Sweeet Action are a high energy rock band that are destined to have a big 2018 already with them being named the first Zone Band of the month of the year, but it was this performance last February that got my attention. This rock ballad ‘Wait’ showcases the vocal chops of Mike Campbell and guitar playing of Aaron Pichichero.
Island Eyes at Sugar Nightclub- I Could Almost See You (February 26, 2017)
Part of the fun I’ve had covering music in Victoria is taking the opportunity to check out bands that play genres I don’t cover a lot. Island Eyes has been in the scene for quite a while, originally known as Wand. As openers for Wolf Parade I went in with an open mind and not knowing much about them and ended up really enjoying their set. their dream-pop sound is different and yet familiar.
High Noon to Midnight at Sugar Nightclub- Burn (June 2, 2017)
All I can say is it’s about time High Noon to Midnight finally got more exposure in 2017. From being The Zone’s March 2017 Band of the Month to playing the big stage at the inaugural Laketown Rock Festival to winning the Play Tall Tree contest, this is a band I’ve been covering going on five years now and people are finally taking notice of Adam Barters distinct growly voice and frontman showmanship and Dave Lawson’s sweet sax solos.
Illvis Freshly feat. Caleb Hart at Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest 2017- Upside Down (June 17, 2017)
Both Illvis Freshly and Caleb Hart put on energetic shows on their own, but for some reason anytime they’re on stage together the energy rises up another notch. Their performance together at Rifflandia 2016 was one of the most memorable that I wasn’t able to catch on video. So it was great to see them together again at the 2017 Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest and be able to share the moment for all to see.
Lola Parks at Spirit of 150 Victoria- Once in a While (June 26, 2017)
I haven’t seen Lola Parks perform in nearly 3 years and was quickly reminded how much I love her singing during the Spirit of 150 Victoria in June. 2018 for Lola Parks has already had a jump start with the release of her new EP ‘The Hustle’ and CBC Vancouver choosing her song ‘All This Time’ as the new theme song for ‘The Early Edition’.
Germany Germany at Spirit of 150 Victoria- Lux (June 29, 2017)
Electronic music can be a difficult genre to cover video-wise. For example, unless you’re on stage shooting the equipment and what hands are doing, shooting a DJ can be rather uninteresting. Germany Germany is different in that not only does Drew Harris perform his music mostly live, he has a band. Unfortunately the previous times I’ve been able to cover his shows the lighting has been too dark to shoot. Enter this performance at Spirit of 150 as the sun is going down. I’d love to see Germany Germany perform at night with some bright visuals or an elaborate lighting rig.
Bad Hoo at Spirit of 150 Victoria- Banana Splat (June 29, 2017)
Bad Hoo’s one of those bands that you can picture seeing at a bar or just jamming in someone’s garage. Experiencing their music for the very first time in a festival stage setting at Canada 150 was heck of a lot of fun.
Rococode at Spirit of 150 Victoria- Is It Real? (June 30, 2017)
I’ve been a fan of Rococode since their single ‘Empire’ was released in 2011. Seeing a local band I’ve been following for a number of years perform on the stage at the BC legislature is always a treat because the stage and audience are huge. Add in the fact Rococode played some new music I hadn’t heard made for a fun set to cover.
Vancouver Island Dynamite at TD Victoria International JazzFest 2017- Run For Cover (July 2, 2017)
A close friend of mine who works with guitarist Steve Grebanier of Vancouver Island Dynamite often raved about the band to me a few times over the last year. Based on that, and the fact he was speaking so highly about a band who performs in a genre he’s not all that into, I made it a point to find an opportunity to check them out. That chance conveniently came at JazzFest in 2017. Just listen to these crazy solos. I could listen to Vancouver Island Dyanamite jam for hours.
Vince Vaccaro at The Phillips Backyard Weekender 2017- Outside (July 9, 2017)
After years of covering Vince Vaccaro, I love moments like this where he performs a new song he “wrote a few nights ago” and you listen and then go “Yup. He’s still got it.”
Current Swell at The Phillips Backyard Weekender 2017- You Got It Easy (July 9, 2017)
Having missed Current Swell headline the first day of Rock The Shores 2016 because of the first date of The Tragically Hip’s farewell tour, it was awesome to see them close out the 2017 Phillips Backyard Weekender at a jam packed Phillips Brewery. Hearing music from their new album live for the first time was a bonus after years covering the band’s rise.
Dirty Mountain at Sunfest 2017- Bones Shake (August 6, 2017)
I’ve followed Elli Hart’s career from her solo acoustic singer-songwriter days to what she has done since forming Dirty Mountain a couple years ago. Seeing her perform on the huge main stage at Laketown Ranch opening for Little Big Town at Sunfest 2017 was kind of a proud moment as both a fan and friend.
The Leg-Up Program at Rifflandia 2017- Run This Town (September 15, 2017)
Life got you down? Listen to The Leg-Up Program and you’ll be back on your feet and probably dancing in no time. This is a collective of musicians that could be Victoria’s hip-hop/soul/funk/R&B version of Broken Social Scene. Pretty much every member either has their own solo project or are prominent members of other Victoria bands. When they finally release their album that was supposed to be released last fall, that’s when we’ll truly see them “run this town.”
Ryan Guldemond and Lindsay Bryan at Do250’s Secret Sets- Love It Dissipates (September 16, 2017)
If I had made a Top 20 Local Moments list for 2017, this moment would have been number one hands down. I was hired by Do250 to shoot some secret sets at Rifflandia in the locker room of Royal Athletic Park. Ryan Guldemond of Mother Mother was performing a solo acoustic set when he decided to take requests. From the crowd a female voice can be heard saying “Love It Dissipates”. Ryan thinks about it for a second and says that it’s been a while and doesn’t even know if he remembers the lyrics. Once again a female voice is heard saying “I can help!” and up comes Lindsay Bryan (LABS/The Bright Side). Now many are well aware of Lindsay Bryan’s singing talent, but it was apparent that much of the audience did not and minds were blown and Ryan was impressed the moment she started singing.
Towers and Trees at Do250’s Secret Sets- Bad Heart (September 16, 2017)
Towers and Trees made a bit of a surprise return. A year ago they went on hiatus. Lead singer Adrian Chalifour welcomed his first child, drummer Jesse Boland moved Toronto and guitarist Dave Zellinsky launched a solo project MIND. While I fully expected Towers and Trees would come back in some capacity, I’m not sure anyone expected it would be this soon at Rifflandia for both a Do250 Secret Set and the festival’s after party. Not only are they back, but they’re also recording new music.
Leeroy Stagger at Rifflandia 2017- Something Beautiful (September 17, 2017)
I haven’t seen Leeroy Stagger perform since 2012. In five years his beard has gotten bigger and he’s won over $100,000 in the 2015 Alberta Peak Performance Project. After seeing his set at Rifflandia 2017, hopefully it won’t take me five years to cover another of his shows again.
Scram + The First Team at Lucky Bar- All of Our Lives (November 3, 2017)
What do I think makes a good rapper? The message in your lyrics, how well your rhymes flow out of your mouth and engaging stage presence. To me, Scram is one of the best rappers in the city. I’ve only ever seen him perform as part of The Leg-Up Program. This show at Lucky Bar was the first time I’ve ever seen him perform his solo work and it was worth missing the tail end of another show I was covering that same night.
Grapefruit is Impossible at Lucky Bar- Thrown In (November 3, 2017)
Before this show, I knew next to nothing about Grapefruit is Impossible other than the fact they have a rather unique name. Was not expecting a jazzy/funk hip hop group with a similar style to Downtown Mischief, but with a female MC lead and band members I recognize from other local acts. Grapefruit is Impossible is a group I already have on my list to cover in 2018.
The New Groovement at Lucky Bar- Mr. Smooth (November 3, 2017)
A year and a half after officially joining The New Groovement, lead vocalist Steph Wisla has quickly made the old songs her own and with new music on the on the way has made it feel like she’s been with the band since day 1. Speaking of day 1, it’s always great to see drummer Reuvan Sussman make an appearance considering he now works/lives in Washington D.C.
Stel at Capital Ballroom- Gold Mining (November 10, 2017)
Stel are a young band on the rise. Their 2017 began with a boost winning the 2017 Do250 Play Song & Surf contest last January. The band followed that up with releases of two singles and performances at FernFest, Spirit of 150 and ending the year opening for Towers and Trees’s return show in November. It’s clear their following is growing considering the dance floor for their performance at Capital Ballroom was full of people dancing.
Astrocolor at Distrikt Nightclub- Break Your Body (November 24, 2017)
Even if you’re not a dancing type (like myself), you’re probably going to find your head bobbing to Astrocolor’s blend of jazzy electronic music. And by all accounts an instrumental band and a DJ normally shouldn’t be all that interesting to shoot on video, but Neil Cooke-Dallin prooves that you can in fact make it entertaining to watch with his hand gestures, instrument miming and signature mustache. If I could have a do-over, I would have shot video of their set at Rifflandia at the jam packed Phillips Backyard to feature on this year-end recap.