If ever we thought for a second that the Okanagan was suffering any degree of a musical drought, please insert your sigh of relief here. After what could be described as an anticlimactic 2011 summer season, with more festivals cancelling their programming than ever seen before, we were certainly due for the pros to step up and bring some field cred back to what is known as a Canadian festival mecca.
Summer 2012 is about to explode with some of the world’s hottest musical talent, beginning this weekend in Penticton, and spreading across the Valley all summer. Searing hot headliners are filling the billboards and marquees with every genre. Pack your coolers and prepare for the wristband tanlines… here is a quick preview of what is in store for our ears this season:
*** AVICII – Sunday July 1st – South Okanagan Events Centre – Penticton, B.C.
Finally, Penticton’s largest and most advanced event venue houses an electronic show, and one of the world’s best DJ’s is a crackin’ way to kick off the season. AVICII (Swedish born Tim Bergling), is arguably the breakout star of the electronic world this year, bounding from #39 to #6 in the DJ Mag Top 100 Poll in 2011. This is Penticton’s first foray into the large scale dance music market, and we applaud the support from the dance massive for nearly selling out this Canada Day arena spectacular.
After the flop that was the Sound of Summer festival in 2011, Okanagan audiences were rabid to see AVICII’s name on an Okanagan bill. It took the prowess and expertise of Kelowna-based No Limit Entertainment to make it happen. NLE founder and spokesperson Brett McPherson is no stranger to a good challenge, and has spent the last couple years trudging through the valley knocking show after show out of the park. A true testament to perseverance, NLE will drive another homerun into the stands when AVICII and Cazette hit the stage tomorrow night!
*** KELOHA – July 6th – 8th, 2012 – Waterfront Park – Kelowna, B.C.
Just a touch of the “Big Island” touches down in our tropical climate for one weekend, changing the landscape of the Kelowna waterfront in our minds forever. Seasoned festival veterans Wet Ape Productions bring a brand new level of concept production to the table with KELOHA.
Known for their tight production and large scale shows (Deadmau5, Afrojack, Tiesto), Wet Ape strives to stay miles ahead of the rest when it comes to top billing, unique concepts and solid production value. In a very short few years, Wet Ape has transformed the Kelowna festival market into a behemoth not to rivalled.
KELOHA brings a grassroots element to the beautiful Waterfront Park, and allows festival-goers to become part of the show with their fringe programming. An “Instrument Petting Zoo” lets us all get in touch with our inner Dizzy Gillespie, while 2 massive stages at either end of the sprawling park site makes for a music lovers paradise.
The headliners alone make this a must-go event. AWOLNATION, Tokyo Police Club, The Sheepdogs, Cold War Kids, The Limousines and Said the Whale are just the beginning of your wild weekend of aural overload. Oh wait, then there’s Dirty Radio (always smokin hot, listen to “Found You” ASAP), BC boy Daniel Wesley, Shout Out Out Out, Hey Ocean and USS …
WHAT?!?! …and then at least 4 venues per night have jam packed lineups for the after party series – I’m suggesting you hit Sapphire on Friday for the Limousines and Tokyo Police Club DJ sets, and the Habitat on Saturday for Daniely Wesley, The Boom Booms and Watasun. Don’t worry, all of Leon Street will be packed with things to do afterhours all weekend, but hit those 2 parties fo sho!!
*** ROCK THE PEACH – July 27th – 29th – King’s Park, Penticton, B.C.
“It’s not the size that matters. it’s how you use it” has never been more true than the labour of love that is Rock the Peach. Leave it to the smaller of the Okanagan cities to band together and launch a monster in it’s inaugural year. Penticton, who experienced some growing pains with 3 major festivals staying dark last year, is on a massive turnaround for 2012. At the beginning of the year, the Huffington Post globally announced Penticton as the #4 Tourist Destination in the World, and the wheels started turning in favour of this beautiful town.
iRock Entertainment, who represent a well-thought cross section of the Okanagan community, really have done their homework when it comes to producing a large scale weekender for a family / party marketplace. The festival site itself is very well planned, featuring 2 large stages, a massive market place for food and artisan shopping, a children’s area complete with bouncies and live performers, and don’t even forget the VIP areas and beverage gardens, courtesy of the Downtown Penticton Association.
With music programming that includes Ronnie Dunn, Ridley Bent, Jesse Cook and Sam Roberts Band alongside veteran favourites like Glass Tiger and Three Dog Night, variety is the key. Amped up sounds from groups like Treble Charger guarantee to kick us into the highest gear on opening night, while Collective Soul, Good for Grapes and “island-rock” pioneers The Steadies weave through genres and pave the way for new sounds.
Rock the Peach Operations Manager Carl Nystrom credits the success of the planning to a massive collaboration of the right families in the Okanagan coming together. Talents like Willi and daughter Vanessa Jahnke, bringing 50+ years of combined experience managing bands, marketing resorts and producing festivals, alongside partners such as Barb Haynes and the Downtown Penticton Association volunteer base make for a strong team.
For a first-year festival especially, Rock the Peach is an astounding achievement in community diligence, I can’t wait to see King’s Park come alive, and grow for years to come.
*** CENTER OF GRAVITY – August 3rd – 5th – City Park – Kelowna, B.C.
Gear up, get lots of rest, this one is a monster!! No literally, now presented by Monster Energy Drink, this August Long Weekend stormer promises to leave you the hardest hitting Taurine hangover and the sorest ears and muscles all summer.
Center of Gravity is unrivalled in it’s size, spectacle and attention to detail. A wild combination of beach sports, electronic headliners, bikini contests, massive beer gardens and even more sports, you are out of breath from morning til night. Last year we could take in motocross jumping, wakeboard winch-jams, Dragonette, Bud Light, Playboy bunnies and Bad Boy Bill in one afternoon. What could Wet Ape possibly have in store for 2012?
SPORTS: 7 sports featuring over 150 athletes from around the world, every corner of the massive festival site is alive with Beach Volleyball, Basketball, Wakeboarding, FMX, Freestyle Mountain Biking, Skateboarding, and BMX. Water, dirt, grass and concrete are filled to the brim with sweat.
MUSIC: Iconic – relevant – groundbreaking … These are the artists at the top of the charts, leading the hottest genres and crossovers of the year. Brace yourself, the energy coming from 25,000 concert-goers will fist punch the sky to Knife Party, the Bloody Beetroots (DJ Set), Nero, Morgan Page, Lupe Fiasco, Anjulie, Miami Horror, R3hab, Yelawolf, DJ Craze, Mat the Alien and Young Empires. Ummm, and that’s just the Main Stage. Add 2 more stages on the beach and the Urban Area, and you can expect Chris Lake, Bucknife and the Okanagan’s own SonReal and Malibu Knights. Ok fine, Sweatshop Union is throwin down too, but that’s all I’m tellin you. Massive!!
BEVVIES & BIKINIS: What would a beach festival be without a cold frosty beer and eye-candy for days. Even sponsor Bud Light will unveil the brand new Bud Light Lime Mojito, possibly the most anticipated summer bevvie EVER, and Palm Bay will promise even more flavour to the cool drinks on site. COG is known for their top notch VIP Cabanas, and don’t miss their annual Miss COG Bikini Contest, with a $1000 First Prize and the August page in the COG Calendar. Yeah, it’s summer.
The size of the concert and sport lineups should be enough to either scare or draw you to the event, but this year Center of Gravity truly takes over the entire City of Kelowna. An official COG House (at the Kelowna Curling Club) will be the official after-party venue, as local clubs just couldn’t possibly fit the masses that roll out of City Park every night. Shuttles service around the various venues takes the pressure off local transit and taxis who could barley contain the crowds last year. Just year after year of thoughtful positive growth, showing the dedication of the Wet Ape team to their community.
No matter what your flavour, the Okanagan Valley is literally the hottest spot in Canada to sweat out your summer energy. Just do it, get online, grab a festival pass, forget your stress for just a weekend, and come see what everyone is always bragging about.
You can go home with sand in your pants and that after-glow summer smile only the Okanagan can provide. See you on the beach!