It’s Canada Day long weekend. That means Laketown Shakedown 2023 is upon us.
Traffic heading north from Victoria was a complete nightmare. It took me 2.5 hours to get from downtown Victoria to the base of The Malahat. Two of those hours were just from the Millstream overpass to Goldstream. After leaving home 1:30pm, I arrived at Laketown Ranch at 4:45 and sadly missed opening act Darrian Gerard.
I did make it in time for Victoria rock band Wet Future at 5pm. One thing that seems to always happen at festivals at Laketown Ranch is the lack of support from festival goers of the opening acts. Friday was no different with Wet Future performing on the massive main stage with a smattering of people. Coast Salish DJ Nokturnal Funk opened up the Lakenight stage with a few dozen people at the top of the hill. The crowd size didn’t really improve until Bif Naked and Reignwolf. Were people hanging out at their campsites? Were they at the lake across the street? Or were a lot of people stuck in traffic in Victoria?
The sun was shining in Lake Cowichan, but the temperature was fairly mild.
Vancouver’s Blonde Diamond was next on the main stage. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve seen them perform on a large festival stage. The last time being when they were still called Youngblood at Rock The Shores in 2018.
Victoria DJ vet DJ Primitive continued the dance party on the Lakenight Stage.
From 7:30 to almost midnight all the music was exclusively at the main stage. It’s been 25 years since Bif Naked’s landmark album ‘I Bificus’ was released. Bif Naked took the stage wearing a shirt given to her by Orange Shirt Day co-founders Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray who were in the audience.
Reignwolf made his return to Vancouver Island for the first time in 5 years. The Seattle blues rocker blew minds a decade ago at Rock the Shores as the opening act and received an extremely rare encore as an opener. He last performed at a stellar show at the former Distrkt Nightclub in 2018 where brought a bass drum in to the dance floor and stood on it shredding on his guitar. Towards the end of his show he pointed out a little girl on his dad’s shoulders wearing pink ear protection and dedicated the song to her saying “Welcome to rock and roll little one.” The dad then brought his daughter close to the stage where Reignwolf had her say hello on the microphone. Reignwolf put on another impressive set with the audience again calling for an encore, but time didn’t allow for it this time.
Third Eye Blind headlined day 1. The San Francisco rock band were supposed to be here in 2020, but we all know what happened that year. With a multitude of radio singles in the late 90s like Jumper, How’s It Going to Be, Never Let You Go, Losing a Whole Year, Graduate and of course ‘Semi-Charmed Life’, fans were heard singing along to many of the songs.
Before performing ‘Jumper’, frontman Stephan Jenkins expressed his love for Vancouver Island saying, “You know I’ve lived in San Francisco, California my whole life and I’ve never been to Vancouver Island. What a mistake! This is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been to ever. Don’t tell anybody about it.”
SonReal kept the party going at the LakeNight stage starting at around 11:50pm and was later followed by Vinyl Ritchie late into the night. But I didn’t stay for the last act due to the commute back to Victoria.
Laketown Shakedown continues Saturday and Sunday with headliners Portugul, The Man and Shaggy. Other great acts include Aqua, K’naan, and Reve. But don’t miss any of the early acts. Support your local artists. We made a Laketown Shakedown Local Artist Primer previewing what to expect.
Passes for Laketown Shakedown are still available at laketownshakedown.com