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Into the woods to Tall Tree music festival

The road to Tall Tree is the epitome of west coast beauty.  As the highway turns to local roads, crossing over single lane bridges, all cell phone coverage is lost, and nature thrives.  The winding gravel road up the mountain leads to the roundabout, a drop-off point for baggage with a small stage.  Comedians and DJs performed throughout the daylight hours as batches of 40 cars dropped off luggage and attendees.  The roundabout splits of into winding paths to different parts of the mountain, signs dot the path encouraging hydration and safe camping practices. The small path opens up to the main path and the main stage comes into view atop a hill.  Surrounded by fences, with guards at the gate pouring out bottle containers, the Tall Tree Stage seemed daunting.  The festival lost the intimacy it had built on the walk to the stage.  Once inside however, the charm returned.  Vendors lined up both sides, and the hill dips as you get closer to the stage.

Delhi 2 Dublin is difficult to simply explain, a combination of dub reggae, Celtic fiddle, breakbeats, electronic fusion, folk-hop and generally up beat music with influences from many different parts of the world.  As a whole, the band is energetic with a huge stage presence.  Ravi, who was also celebrating his birthday during the show, plays the dhol, dholak.  This large two-headed drum hung off of him as he jumped, danced, bounced and sang, with an ecstatic ear-to-ear grin the entire set.  Sanjay Seran utilizes his entire body in each song.  Throwing his arms up he draws the crowd in, and jumps forward, leans in and connects with the audience.  His expression changes with each song, but the enjoyment of the crowd response is obvious.  Serena Eades plays a huge range of violin pieces, from haunting classical sounds that resonate in a solo piece, to high-energy Celtic over electronic beats.

The Boom Booms are East Van raised indie soul, with a dedicated fan base.  I had seen them perform at an outdoor event without a stage, interacting with the crowd on a physical level.  Despite the stage separating them from the audience, they maintained a surprisingly intimate presence.  The guitar pieces were tightly played, with funky undertones that add to the soulful feel.  The lead singer is smooth, and a connection between the entire band is evident.  The group grew up together which may explain the ease in which each member plays off each other.  Previous shows had a funkier feel, the Tall Tree set showcased their newer sexy, smooth, soulful sound.

The summer music scene on the west coast would not be complete without Vince Vaccaro.  Born in Montreal, Vaccaro moved to Victoria in his youth, and his music reflects the coast life.  His songs have a story-telling feel influenced by the abundance of nature and beauty that surrounds Vancouver Island.  Standing atop a mountain, surrounded by expansive forest, overlooking the ocean during his performance gives the feeling of being in one of the island inspired songs.

The Valley Stage was quite a bit smaller and completely open.  Situated at the edge of the valley it also was part way between the main stage and the larger campsite area.

DJ Boitano is a Victoria based DJ and radio host with infectious energy, a charming grin and a sense of humour to his set.  Classic songs mixed with others smash into raucous remixes and dance.  Boitano warmed up the audience quickly, and appealed to everyone with a wide array of songs, clips, and 80s and 90s pop-culture references all mixed with modern beats.  His set, although varied, flowed with the precision of someone who revels in the music he plays.

As a whole, Tall Tree has a little bit of everything.  There were only two stages active at anytime, allowing easy access to the full lineup.  Although getting larger every year, Tall Tree maintains a small festival feel that resonates with the west coast.