Arriving at Ship’s Point, the gate was buzzing with volunteers and staff preparing for the day. Over the two days prior I met Alex and Lucas the official Ska Fest videographers. Alex approached me about my rapport with the musicians and if I would be interested in joining forces. He and Lucas would film the interviews and I was to be the interviewer. Originally Ska Fest had a reporter but didn’t end up coming. Her name was eerily similar to mine so Alex and Lucas assumed I was her. I guess I was just in the right place at the right time and fate brought us all together. We formed a trifecta of creativity and trust thus spawning Ska Fest T.V. Alex, Lucas and I jumped on any interview we could muster and I had the opportunity to meet every musician that graced the Ska Fest stages. It was truly a surreal experience and I had to keep reminding myself it was real life.
Sweet Leaf started the day with catchy upbeat tunes and multiple cannabis references. Chris Jones, the lead singer, suggested we conduct Sweet Leaf’s interview in his new van. Next thing I knew, I felt like a sardine packed in a hippie van with eight other people. Sweet Leaf is a local Victoria band and play a mix of funk, reggae and ska. Many have been involved with Ska Fest either as performers and or volunteers for the BC Ska Society. They have a family orientated vibe and made me feel like I was part of their tribe.
The Expanders were originally set to play, but ended up not making it through the border. Rude City Riot filled their spot last minute and played a tight set elevating the energy of the crowd. I had the chance to speak with lead singer, Dustin Lionhart and share our appreciation of having them play Ska Fest last minute. Lionhart says, “Dane called us up about a week ago and said The Expanders cancelled could Rude City Riot fill in? We jumped at the opportunity because we love Victoria and Ska Fest.”
After my interview with Lionhart I went backstage where I was met by The Aggrolites. I have been a huge fan of their music for a long time and felt the heart tickles inside my chest. I introduced myself to lead singer, Jesse Wagner, and bassist, Jeff Roffredo. It happened to be Roffredo’s birthday and he invited me to have a jager bomb with the rest of The Aggrolites and the legendary, Lynval Golding. I clinked cups next to my biggest musical idols and had an ear to ear grin the rest of the day.
The Aggrolites drew in one of the largest crowds I had seen yet this Ska Fest. The dance floor became a swirling human whirlpool which The Aggrolites highly encouraged. Wagner sported a leg cast and a stylish cane and hobbled around the stage with finesse. The band was sweaty but beaming when they invited Lynval Golding on-stage.
The Aggrolites and Golding practised once before hitting the stage together and The Aggrolites were so honoured to be playing a show with a member of The Specials. Golding wore a beautiful maroon suit with a tan fedora; he looked super fresh. They played Special songs and ended the set with a cover of “Don’t Let Me Down.” It was truly a surreal experience to see ska legends playing together for Ska Fest. Golding was a pleasure to interview. He tours with his wife and son which keeps Golding grounded but also exposes his son to many different cultures.
After our interview with Golding Alex, Lucas and I headed to Upstairs to catch Grossbuster, Giraffe Aftermath and Burnt. I caught the tail end of Grossbuster’s set, where his MC Orilla, was throwing down slick rhymes while Grossbuster worked the control pad. We huffed upstairs to a hobbit sized green room where we found some couches and boxes of cereal. Frosted and corn flakes sat beside milk and a bowl. I realized I ate a breakfast wrap 10 hours previous I helped myself to a bowl. Turns out Giraffe Aftermath makes a communal band cereal bowl and eat it before most shows. That’s how they get into the right head space. I saw Giraffe Aftermath a few months before at Sunny Daze camp ground. We spent a crazy night in the forest beat-boxing and free styling so it was nice to see them again. Their set showcased how talented everyone is and how well they played together. They take music very serious and it shows because they played one of the tightest sets at Ska Fest.
I interviewed Burnt after watching their set and they combine reggae with hard-core elements creating a truly unique sound. Of the three members, two sport the dreadlocks and hold a charismatic presence on stage.
After every band played we filmed them saying who they were and where they were at. Asking Burnt to give a shout out turned into them singing a song about being Vikings while tapping their boots in time. It was amazing to witness and yes we recorded it. I asked them about their hard-core influences and how they interwove it with reggae music. dFranx, lead singer and guitar, says, “We grew up in the suburbs in California and that hard-core element you hear is our angst living in these neighbourhoods.”
We finished up our interview with Burnt after discussing our plans for the follow day Alex, Lucas and I parted ways. I got in at nearly four in the morning climbed into bed thinking about my radio show a few short hours away. Falling asleep with a smile on my face I drifted into sleep, my ears still buzzing from the music.