Up above Whistler in British Columbia, Pemberton Music Festival triumphantly returns this year for the first time since 2008. This year, the festival features one of the best overall music and comedy lineups of the year, and we are proud to provide coverage through photos and summaries all weekend.
After some festival pre-game at Whistler on Wednesday and a half day of fun on the festival grounds on Thursday featuring an Odd Future skate park party, the real fun got started on Friday with a rambunctious dance set from Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat. The young producer is known for his eclectic mixture of sounds in an energetic and interactive fashion. Here at Pemberton, nothing changed. We heard much of Cashmere Cat’s excellent material, including remix of Miguel and his club banger “Party Girls” with Ludacris. Reaching even further beyond the expected possibility curve, he even threw in some tracks from the trendy UK label PC Music. Altogether, Cashmere Cat’s set was diverse and well received – a great way to start off the first full length day of music.
“We’re playing this stage with people we grew up listening to”, Jake Snider remarked at the beginning of the Minus The Bear set on the Pemberton Mainstage, “that’s pretty incredible for us”. Opening up the main stage is no small feat, but the Seattle indie rock stalwart is no stranger to wowing crowds on the stage. Minus the Bear are one of the most dependable live bands out there. Just a couple weeks ago, they played Columbia City Theater in Seattle for an intimate performance of their 2004 EP They Make Beer Commercial’s Like This, and today, they are sharing a stage with Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails, ripping through material from their fifth LP Infinity Overhead and getting screams from the crowd like they were a headliner. Plus, it was fun to see Minus the Bear playing the festival game. Guitarist David Knudson got a wave going for OMNI hit “Into The Mirror” and keyboardist Alex Rose had everyone clapping through an explosive final chorus on Planet of Ice favorite “Throwin Shapes”. To no one’s surprise, Minus the Bear played the first explosive set of the weekend, and it set the bar pretty high for the dozens of acts to come.
Minus The Bear:
LA production wunderkind Shlohmo continued the dance action in the bass tent from there. This performance is one day after Shlohmo dropped the long-gestating EP with R&B singer Jeremih, which he offered free through his own label WEDIDIT, featuring the pretty much unanimously adored title track that NPR debuted on back on Valentine’s Day. Just a couple months ago, Shlohmo played a sold out show at Neumos in Seattle, with faded neon lights barely illuminating his hooded figure over a towering setup. Here, not much changed but the weather and time of day – Shlohomo rocked a cool pair of shades and hat and turned the bass levels up to 11 until the tent packed out. Here, in a daunting array of lights and hazy images, Shlohmo seemed totally at home playing to the massive crowd. Blazing through half of the No More EP, some tracks off his last release Laid Out, and a handful of remixes, he did it all with ease and continuous grace. Atop a massive stage setup with a tent full of people dancing fans, it’s very clear why Shlohmo is the best in his league.
The first truly massive crowd at Pemberton this weekend was for Blondie. Even battling amp for amp against a scorching Cage the Elephant set on the main stage, Debbie Harry and her band brought a small city’s worth of people to the Whistler stage for a multigenerational party of nostalgia. Harry’s songs seem timeless even now. Between the band rocking on stage and the classic music videos playing behind, there was a seamless flow of love between young and old. No matter what the age, everyone sang along with classics like “Hanging On The Telephone”, “One Way or Another”, and “Heart of Glass”. Harry hasn’t let the years phase her much – her voice is still golden and cuts like a knife. Blondie gave Pemberton 2014 the first universal singalong of the weekend, and everyone left smiling.