Summer on the West Coast is amazing for those of us who live here, but for visitors – including visiting bands playing outdoor music festivals like Rock the Shores – it can be even more special.
Ewan Currie, lead singer and guitarist for the Sheepdogs, who co-headline the Saturday night (July 14) RTS show with Social Distortion at the restarted music festival in Colwood, is one of those guests who can’t wait to get back to the Island.
“I’m a fan of Western Canada, a huge fan … how can you not love the West Coast?” he asks. “The Island is just magnificent, especially for someone who grew up in a landlocked province.”
Formed in Saskatoon in 2006, The Sheepdogs last appeared at Rock the Shores in 2013. At the time they were barely a year out from releasing the self-titled album that further cemented their reputation as a rocking, groove heavy guitar band. Today they’re in-demand, three-time Juno Award winners with a gruelling international and domestic tour schedule.
They were in Victoria in February to play two sold-out shows at the Capital Ballroom, where they unveiled their new album, Changing Colours. The upcoming show will feature some of that material, plus songs from their earlier records, including such hits as “The Way It Is,” “I Don’t Know” and others.
Playing the outdoor venue at West Shore Parks and Recreation offers a chance to connect with fans of all ages, Currie says, which is right in their wheelhouse.
“There’s something interesting about our band … we have a pretty widespread age of people who listen to our music,” he notes, adding that for younger fans and music lovers, festivals can be a good chance to “let their flag fly.”
Speaking of younger fans, organizers of Rock the Shores are working to make the festival even more family friendly, with admission free for kids 12-under (register online) attending with parents, cool hearing protection headphones provided free for children and a dedicated shade structure with kids activities.
With other new features like a reserved seating area on Field 2 and a ready-to-sleep camping area with room for 40-50 people (both extra costs), plus even more food and beverage choices – not to mention a solid and diverse 2018 musical lineup – RTS has benefited from taking a year off, says Nick Blasko, co-founder of festival promoter Atomique Productions.
“We’re breaking down the notion of what a music festival is, we’re not trying to make an event that is jammed corner to corner, with limited food options and one type of beer,” he says.
“I think (pausing the festival last year) gave us a moment to really reflect on the event and focus on the parts that are really working … It allowed us to reset a little bit and in many ways gave us more time to work up to this edition. This’ll be our sixth instalment of the festival, and every time you do it you learn little things.”
Blasko is excited about the lineup, not least for the presence as the Sunday headliner of legendary Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson. Atomique has been trying to bring the enigmatic 60’s and 70’s hitmaker to RTS for several years and it finally worked out this time around. “He’ll be doing a greatest hits set that includes so many of the Beach Boys catalogue,” Blasko says.
He describes the three days as having distinctly different flavours: X Ambassadors (“Ahead of Myself,” “Renegades”) and Juliette and the Licks headline Friday’s pop-oriented show, Sheepdogs and Social Distortion wind up Saturday’s rock and roll night, while Wilson and Bahamas are the pinnacle of the “modern folk festival” Sunday.
“It’ll be a very luxurious day of music and picnicking,” Blasko says of day 3.
Tickets are available for individual days or the full festival. For details and other information, visit rocktheshores.com.