Review: Khatsahlano Music & Arts Festival 2013

Thousands filled West 4th Avenue on Saturday, July 13th, blocking off the road – Khatsahlano Music & Arts Festival at its finest. Khatsahlano is a landmark in any Vancouverite’s summer. It’s an announcement that the warm weather is here to stay for a while, and the hot sunshine throughout the day did not disappoint. 9 music stages offered an expanse of local musicians and bands throughout the day, with headliners The Pack A.D, Brasstronaut, and Gold & Youth drawing the largest crowds of die-hard fans and intrigued passers-by.  With so many talented musicians playing at once, it was impossible to see every act.  The ones we did catch were well worth the dash we made through densely packed streets to make it to the stage on time.



James Younger’s trademark brand of pop-rock had passing festival-goers slowing to a halt as they tried to make their way past the Macdonald St. stage.  With such catchy, up-tempo music, it’s no wonder that one taste convinced them to stick around until the last song. Younger’s set featured tracks off his first solo venture, Feelin’ American, the kind of feel-good music you’ll find in your headphones en route to a beach party or blasting through your car stereo on a summer road trip.  The perfect fit for a breezy summer day on 4th? Definitely.



Gal Gracen hit the right notes with spacey vocals and hypnotic synth lines on the Burrard St. Stage.  Lyrics were hard to decipher but well chosen, found in soaring melodies backed by more upbeat guitar riffs.  Their set gave the audience time to relax and appreciate the chilled-out music, which remained shrouded in mystery despite the bright sun.  Members of the band could be found sitting on the edge of the stage at times, looking more like they were hanging out than playing in front of a festival audience. The mellow sound wasn’t right for dancing, so the crowd was left swaying vaguely back and forth, appreciating the laid-back show.



“I’m not used to seeing so much bare leg… it does things to the mind,” quipped the frontman Parker Bossley, surveying the shorts-and-sunnies-clad crowd gathered in front of the Maple St. stage.  Accompanied onstage by Daniel Knowlton (bass/backing vocals), Malcolm Holt (drums), and Bruce Ledingham (keys), they form the Gay Nineties, creating a sound with elements of rock, metal, and a little grunge.  The four-piece is known for great live shows, a combination of loud music and experienced stage presence that creates the atmosphere of a much bigger show in the smallest of venues.  In the disjointed Khatsahlano crowd, the driving tunes had even the uninitiated head banging in the back row.



A larger crowd began to gather in front of the Burrard St. Stage as the first of the headlining acts began their set.  Gold & Youth performed songs off Beyond Wilderness, their first album released under the relatively new moniker.  The focus was strongly on the music, electro-pop tracks flowing smoothly from dark and melancholy to some vague attempts at a sunnier sound.  What Gold & Youth do best is intense, introspective, and emotional, with the real gems showing off this talent.  The band played off their strengths, showcasing solid vocals and relaxed, effortless instrumentation.  Despite the mismatched atmosphere, the little bit of darkness in the middle of the sun was much appreciated.



The Pack A.D. are known for rock and roll. Capping off a day full of more than 50 amazing local artists, the duo brought their signature sound to the headlining slot at the Burrard St. Stage.  Becky Black (guitar/vocals) and Maya Miller (drums) banged and thrashed through loud and forceful garage rock that seemed to blow out the sound system (there was a short intermission while the generators were fixed before the set could continued).  The duo’s high-energy, fast-paced, back-to-basics rock and roll was a perfect end to the day as the sun went down on Khatsahlano Music and Arts Festival 2013.



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