Before getting into the third and final day of the Constellation Festival, I want to mention how smooth the whole weekend ran. With two stages of alternating acts, and being able to hear the music anywhere on the grounds, just about the entire weekend ran according to schedule.
And if they did fall behind, the time was very quickly made up for. There were also no Skookum-esque lineups for washrooms or food!
Any complaints, or thoughts for improvements in the future (such as phone charging stations that are NOT in the area dedicated for the festival patrons to smoke weed) were very minor. I was very impressed with how it turned out, especially for the first year of the festival.
But on to the music, as Sunday for me began with Luca Fogale, who took the stage alone -- a bold move for a festival. He started off with his acoustic guitar, his heartfelt voice pouring out in the mid-afternoon sun, as the crowd grew. Mid-way through the set, he switched over to keys, which I thought was a much better fit for his crooning vocals.
Next I listened to a bit of The Modelos, over on the Creative BC side stage. The self-proclaimed "Rock 'n' Roll Cowboy Surfers" lived up to the moniker, with a loud and rollicking set of a combination of surf rock and honky-tonk that fit together surprisingly well for a fun set.
Then it was time for one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend, Begonia, who had arguably the most amazing and powerful voice of the festival. Her set ran from the soft and heart wrenching "Hot Dog Stand" to the infectious bass groove of "Juniper", as well as my favourite of the set, the title track to her upcoming album "Fear", an intense song that gave chills despite the shining sun.
Judging by the reaction, by the end of her set, both her music and her charming, slightly self-deprecating banter between songs earned her more than a few new fans. My guess is, she's going to be headlining one of the Constellation stages before long.
Hunting was up next, the new project from Bradley Ferguson, Dustin Bentall, and Jessicka (who played the festival earlier in the day). It was the first show as this new incarnation of the band, which also included a few familiar faces to the Vancouver music scene, Daniel Ruiz and Catherine Hiltz backing them as the rhythm section.
Their electro-tinged rock & roll was exactly what you would expect from the pedigree on stage, with a high-energy, driving sound. A couple songs especially caught my attention; one I think they called "She Was", along with a song that they introduced as meant to be listened to with the windows down, bombing down a highway. I'll definitely be on the lookout for them in the future.
All the way from Victoria, Current Swell took the main stage next. It's been a long while since I last saw them play, and as far as I could tell the only remaining member was lead singer Scott Stanton, joined by a new group (which included Evan Miller from Wild Romantics). Not only that, but they had a horn section join them for much of the set.
Their laid back, "Vancouver Island surf rock" sound was tempered with some newer tunes that had a bit more of an edge to them. Scott also brought out the slide guitar for my favourite song of theirs, "Cursed", with it's incendiary slide riff.
I only caught a little bit of the next act on the side stage, The Jerry Cans. But I did get a fun and energetic party feel from what I heard, with the Iqaluit band blending raucous vocals with Inuit throat singing.
The only celestially-named band at the Constellation festival was up next, Half Moon Run taking the main stage. They started off slow before building over the next few songs, with a set that had a really good ebb & flow of energy, building up to songs like "Turn Your Love" then drop to slower songs like the ballad-y "Need It". Their four voices blended together harmoniously throughout, including their hit single "Call Me In The Afternoon", when they decided their dual drummers were not enough, and one of the singers pounded the floor tom along with them.
The set same to an end with "Full Circle", though the crowd was not yet satisfied, chanting for "one more song" and since there was enough time before the next set, they obliged for what seemed like a legitimate encore, the band huddled around the microphone with an acoustic guitar, for a cover of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush".
Closing out the side stage for the day was Wintersleep. I've never been that big on the band, but I was a little amazed at just how many songs I recognised throughout the set. They showed off their prolific career with singles like "Amerika" and "Spirit", before delving into their most recent album In the Land Of. As the set drew to a close, they got everyone clapping along with the now-classic "Weighty Ghost", and then finished off with a couple more, a big, extended jam finishing off.
And immediately as Wintersleep ended, the familiar marimba of "Under The Sea" filled the air, while Bahamas took the stage. Afie Jurvanen was joined, as always, by his fantastic backing band, Jason Tait on drums, Darcy Yates on bass, Christine Bougie on guitar, and singer Felicity Williams.
Starting off the set with "So Free" off the latest album, he spanned his entire career, from the gorgeous "Already Yours" from Pink Strat, to the pseudo R&B jam "Bad Boys Need Love Too" off Earthtones, and many in between. During "Your Sweet Touch" he and Bougie broke into an extended jam, playing off each other fantastically, and other favourites like the sultry "Caught Me Thinking" had the crowd dancing (and swooning) along.
His self-deprecating humour popped up a few times during the set, as he joked he was always called to play a Sunday evening of a festival, never a Friday or Saturday. And, looking back on it, both Skookum last year and 2017's Vancouver Folk Fest… guess what day he played?
He also made a complete mockery of the encore concept, wryly stating that after the "last" song, they're obligated to go stand side stage (where 70% of the people would still be able to see them) and then come back out for a few more. Which, after the beautiful "Lost In The Light" ended the main set, is exactly what happened.
He returned to the stage with "All The Time", which was a little ironic since that was the same moment that Christine and I decided to slip out of the festival to attempt to beat the crowd (and more importantly, any Sea to Sky traffic back to Vancouver), as we could hear the last few songs drifted throughout the night.
I've long told people that the first couple years of Live @ Squamish was the best outdoor festival I have ever been to, and even beyond taking place on the same grounds, Constellation reminded me a lot of that. It was
And I hope they are planning this for a long time, because I am already looking forward to next year! Oh, and don’t forget to check out all of Christine’s photos too!