Bass Coast Project – 2011 Review

This past weekend marked the third inception of the art and music celebration Bass Coast Project in Squamish, BC. Produced by founders Andrea Graham, Andrea Oakden and Liz Thomson, along with a large team of volunteers and staff, this event took place at the stunning Squamish Valley Campground and set the bar a notch or two higher for festivals in Canada.

Attendees with license plates from as far as California and Winnipeg (and everywhere in between) enjoyed a delicious selection of electronic music throughout the weekend. Focusing on the best of bass-heavy music, the diverse festival boasted genres from house to straight-up funk, breaks to dubstep, drum & bass to reggae mash-up.

Musical highlights of the weekend were hard to keep track of – virtually every performer brought something new and exciting to the three stages. Friday night stars included Self Evident, Prison Garde, Dave Nada and Lorne B. Saturday boasted a slew of non-musical events including a mud wrestling competition won by Vancouver’s own warrior goddess DJ Blondtron, a fashion show presented by House of Bass, and a variety of interesting workshops and yoga classes.

The energy, innovation and insightful track selection by Robot Koch got many people moving on Sunday night. The Librarian (aka Andrea Graham) played a beautiful birthday set later on, despite having broken an ankle earlier in the festival. Other performers of note included Timothy Wisdom, who wowed the crowd at the Slay Bay Stage with his crazy distorted harmonica licks and belly-dance crew Luciterra, who enchanted the Bass Coast audience with beautiful movements and enthralling storytelling.

Another aspect that topped other music festivals was the incredible amount and diversity of art installations on site. The larger pieces included the main Bass Coast Stage, which was constructed to resemble a fairy-tale house reminiscent of Tim Burton movies, and the Slay Bay Stage, over which hovered a twenty-foot high praying mantis assembled from recycled wood strips. In the forest a geodesic dome housed a large altar, composed of giant whale bones, animal skulls, feathers and shells.

Video installations dotted the festival grounds, and these often surprised festival -goers with beautiful imagery imposed over trees, screens, a sandy beach and tents. A video light-painting exhibit enabled participants to paint with LCD light swords onto two giant projection screens.

The beauty of the natural scenery of the Squamish Valley Campground, including the Squamish River, waterfalls, mountains, sandy beach and peaceful forest were treated well by all attendees, with staff, volunteers and festival-goers alike making a great effort to keep garbage off the ground. Ample facilities for recycling and waste management were provided and environmental consciousness was high for the duration of the festival. The attitudes of partiers and staff also set this event apart, with a friendly, relaxed and enthusiastic vibe pervading the space and making social dynamics gel smoothly.

Bicycles proved to be a necessity for most, as the campgrounds were much farther from the stages than expected. One thing that could be improved would be a bike-locking area by each stage and in the downtown core, as well as a greater variety of food vendors. Some thought could also be put into the orientation of the stages, which both faced onto the beach and resulted in cross-bleeding of audio in one of the most attractive chill spaces on the grounds. Other than these few very minor tweaks, Bass Coast Project was a resounding success.

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