Atomique Productions presented The Phillips Backyard Weekender 2019 live at the back loading bay of Phillips Brewery Friday July 26 to Sunday July 28, 2019.
Each day of the festival had a distinctly different music vibe with Friday anchored by a pair of reggae sets, Saturday being all rap and hip-hop and Sunday an eclectic mix of indie artists.
Victoria DJ Jennay Badger opened up the festival Friday afternoon with help from a guitarist and two hoola hoop dancers. At one point, Badger stepped out form behind the decks to dance with one of her dance team.
Victoria’s The Brass performed next. Their set featured a guest appearance by Immaculate Machine lead signer performing an Immaculate Machine song and a cover of the Arkells’ ‘People’s Champ’.
Montreal’s Random Recipe was a highlight putting on a fun energetic set in the bands first ever tour of the west coast. We hope they come back soon.
DJ Z-Trip has performed festivals and shows multiple times over the years, but this time he played a special reggae set to set the tone for Friday headliner Steel Pulse, a reggae group from the U.K. Any reggae lover felt right at home grooving to Steel Pulse’s set.
On Saturday DJ Yeezy Yee warmed things up in the early afternoon and then Just Jon X Dom Dias set the hip hop tone for the rest of the day.
Toronto’s Haviah Mighty is a rising star in the rap world based on what we saw during her set. She’s the one member of female hip-hop group The Sorority that was not with on tour with the group when they performed at Rifflandia and the Backyard Weekender previously. Being able to see Haviah Mighty perform both solo and with The Sorority within a month on the island (The Sorority performed at Laketown Shakedown) was a treat.
K-OS was up next in the early evening. When the set times were released we found it curious that an artist of his caliber and with his number of hits was billed third. Even more curious was why K-OS wore a hoodie and trench coat his entire set on a sunny day with temperatures in the mid twenties.
Former Surrey rapper and now Courtenay resident Merkules performed to an increasingly packed brewery. Merkules brought up super fan and local rapper Skinny P on stage. Skinny P lives with a disability and is bound to a wheelchair, but that has not stopped him from making music with the support of the local rap community. Merkules lead the thousands in attendance with a “Skinny! Skinny!” chant. Merkules would later bring his parents on stage to say hello.
Headlining Saturday was Detroit Rapper Danny Brown. The same Danny Brown that infamously once couldn’t get across the border for Rifflandia. While not a mainstream rapper, Brown has a huge following. The thousands near the stage were belting out Browns lyrics. Oddly Brown’s set ended earlier than many anticipated and there was no encore.
Sunday had likely the most eclectic mix of musicians of the weekend that included glam rock artist Art d’Ecco adorned in pale makeup, a mariachi band from Winnipeg The Mariachi Ghost, and an Asian influenced experimental music group in Yamantaka // Sonic Titan wearing Kabuki style makeup. Victoria’s Peach Pyramid opened the day performing mostly new songs. Each of the opening bands sets were noticeably shorter than we would have liked.
The penultimate act of the festival was Shad. One thing that separates Shad from the other rappers that performed at the festival is his ability to tell a story through his music. It’s not just a hook and a chorus. His lyrics have a complexity that make you want to have a closer listen.
Closing out the festival was Brooklyn indie rock band Dirty Projectors. They’re band that has been around for nearly two decades and somehow we weren’t familiar with their music. After seeing them perform we wondered why we haven’t heard them before they’re great. It’s also easy to hear how Dirty Projectors were a influence on Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.