The first ever Constellation Festival kicked off last night, rising from the ashes of Live @ Squamish and the Squamish Valley Music Festival. The inaugural edition took place at on the same grounds, at Hendrickson Field, with a beautiful mountainous backdrop, especially over the main stage.
Christine and I arrived to scout the grounds as Sarah Macdougall sang a cover of "Ramble On" by Zeppelin, as I took in the setup; a large field with two stages at either end --- bands alternated so there was no bleed in music, and you were never too far from the next act. There was also a selection of food carts, and a nice row of local vendors in the middle of the grounds.
The first full act I saw was The Boom Booms (evidently the rumours of their demise were somewhat exaggerated). Their upbeat and fun soulful sound was a great way to get the day rocking as the crowd flowed through the gates.
Next on the side stage was Parker Bossley, former frontman for the Gay Nineties. His solo material was similar to the band, with a bit more of a pop bent, like the synth-fuelled "LIfted". Parker has always had a captivating energy on stage, and this was no different as he oozed charisma throughout the set.
Fast Romantics were next over on the main stage, starting hot with a broken string on the very first song, "Why We Fight". Six members large, they had a big, boisterous indie pop sound, blasting through songs ranging from the slower ballad "Mexico" to the blaring fun of "Julia".
I caught a bit of Daysormay from Vernon while getting a bite to eat, with their eclectic alternative indie sound, before Dear Rouge took to the main stage. They hit the stage mostly dressed in all black, with Danielle McTaggart also adorned in a flowing black & white robe and giant silver spaceboots. With said robe flowing in the wind, they immediately launched into "Modern Shakedown" from their most recent album Phases.
Every time I see them, I feel like they've levelled up, and this time was no different, as Danielle stalked the stage with incredible swagger, her voice ringing through the valley. And of course not forgetting Drew McTaggart ripping it up on guitar, and the rest of the band holding their own.
They went through their catalogue of hits, including "Boys and Blondes" and "Best Look Lately", as well as "Black to Gold" which had a pyrotechnic element, as Danielle brought out a purple smoke flare.
After an incredible cover of "North American Scum" by LCD Soundsystem, they transitioned into "I Heard I Had" with Danielle jumping into the crowd, literally in the faces of the people in the first few rows, before running back on stage. And somehow after that, they still had one song in them, finishing off with "Live Through The Night"
They put on a set that proved they shouldn't be doing anything except closing out the night on festivals like this, because when they were done, I was spent and practically ready to go. Which might be part of the reason I only caught bits and pieces of the last two acts, getting tied up in a conversation while Scenic Route to Alaska played the second stage — through a few times their catchy indie rock pulled my attention, including songs like the driving "Paris".
And finally, it was Serena Ryder closing out the night. She started off hot with "Stompa", her powerful voice carrying to the mountains. But thanks to a bit of rain and a lot of bugs, I decided to save my skin for the next day, and let the sounds of Serena serenade the walk back to the hotel.
Day two of the festival features Fred Penner, Foxwarren, Shad, Peach Pit, A Tribe Called Red, and loads more, and keep an eye out for Christine's daily photo recaps!