Rising out of the ashes of 2013 Sunfest, the Nootka Sound Festival set out to expand the awareness of garage and psychadelia music in Vancouver. Designed to promote and celebrate the vast talent of underappreciated underground artists, the festival specializes in heady grooves, spacey forays and good time garage bands. Split between town venues on Vancouver’s downtown east side, the festival offered a wealth of opportunity to see a massive range of bands from these distinctly broad genres. Touring bands and promising local artists alike provided a bill of high calibre psych seldom, if ever, attempted on the Canadian West coast.
Festival curators Porter Bommes and Nathaniel Curtis founded a company, Madcap events, in order to reproduce their favourite aspects of established music festivals.. After cutting their teeth at festivals such as Sasquatch! and Coachella, Bommes & Curtis set out to cultivate a fruitful artistic environment at home with the assistance of Kyle Hack of Snail Productions. Established festivals have grown increasingly commercialized and distant from the essence of intimate performance, something Madcap Productions seeks to rectify. The outcome proved to be the most fruitful psychadelic festival in Vancouver since Black Mountain’s 2012 five artist festival outside the now reopened Waldorf. Nootka Sound featured artists from afar, such as Dutch artist Jacco Gardener, an earthy and tasteful psych artist who ought to please fans of The War on Drugs, Nootka Sound Festival features a strong line-up of west-coast based groups. Local boys Hallow Moon, perhaps Vancouver’s most inspired and concise up and coming psych rock band, played as local psych ambassadors and were well within their element at the Rickshaw Theatre. Also present were LA’s Forever pANGEA, California’s answer to the Black Lips. Playing a set bursting with energy, Forever pANGEA also threw the audience a curve ball with an unexpected but exceptional cover of “Zombie” by the Cranberries.
Of particular note was the intense yet explosively carefree reverb drenched energy of The Entrance Band. Featuring Paz Lenchantin (Pixies, A Perfect Circle, Zwan) on a bold Rickenbacker bass and Derek James on drums, the Entrance Band is captained by bluesman Guy Blakeslee, who falls somewhere between Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson and Arthur Lee with a take-no prisoners incarnation of psychedelic blues. Amping up “Pretty Baby” from 2006’s Prayer of Death, Blakeslee, Paz and James weaved sonic textures with gorgeous intertwining instrumentation. Jamming their compositions out far beyond their studio recordings, the Entrance Band could hardly be contained. “Why isn’t this band famous?” remarked multiple concert attendees post set. The fruits of fame most often require a level of compromise and conformity that dissipates a spirit of expression. This is not a band that can filter; their unbridled ability to meditate musically is of the highest importance. This is precisely what Nootka Sound set out to accomplish.
Capping off the evening with the immaculately tasteful record collector rock of the Allah Lahs, a talented five piece of Yardbird lookalikes who’s tasteful revision of mid 60s rock is second to none, Nootka Sound Fest succeeding in expanding the musical minds of its patrons. With such a tremendous bill of talent, Nootka Sound Festival is well positioned to further the style and spirit of Vancouver’s ever growing psych and garage scene. Taking advantage of the tide of west coast tide, Nootka Sound Festival has set a high water mark.