Squamish Valley Music Festival with Eminem, Nas, Danny Brown & more [Review/Photos]
Vancouver, BC – On the weekend of August 8, 2014, Squamish Valley Music Festival kicked off in Squamish, British Columbia with headliners Eminem, Arcade Fire and Bruno Mars. Our West Coast team KassKills and Jamie Sands were in the thick of it for all three scorching, music-filled days.
Although, Eminem was the only rap headliner in attendance, some majors in hip-hop came through to drop day time sets to an epic crowd of 35,000 peeps. We had the chance to get up close and catch acts like Nas, Danny Brown, The Roots, Atmosphere and Vancity locals like Shad and Cityreal — not to mention the grande finale of Squamish Festival closing with Eminem. Check out our recap of Squamish Valley Music Festival below.
Two main stages and two side stages were set up at Squamish Valley Music Festival, including the Meadow Stage that saw acts like Vancity’s own, Cityreal. Having been on the cover of The Georgia Straight within that same week, Friday kicked off with the blazing hot sun and an already established buzz around Cityreal’s afternoon performance. With a perfectly tuned live band, including super-babe songstress Tonye Aganaba, Cityreal rocked slick rhymes, like his version of “Ain’t No Sunshine” while his crew backed him up with equal presence. It was great to see a local boy holding his own at one of British Columbia’s biggest festivals of 2014.
One of the most anticipated acts of Squamish Valley Music Festival was Nas, who took the Tantalus Stage on Friday night to perform a set filled with Illmatic classics. 20 years since the iconic album dropped and Nas proved that there is still nobody cooler in the rap game. Dressed in a denim vest on denim jeans (Canadian tuxedo – coincidence?) Nas let the every classic rip from “NY State of Mind” to “One Love” without a drip of sweat.
Any Nasty Nas fan could argue that it should have been him that headlined one of the four SVMV dates, nonetheless the pre-dusk set was welcomed by ecstatic day one fans and young newcomers who were barely alive when “The World Is Yours” first hit the radio waves. As on-point as ever, The Don impressively worked the stage with ease and even threw in a few non-Illmatic encores that included “Made You Look”. Nothing less than an epic perfomance from one of the most prolific rappers of all times – certainly one of our favourite acts of the weekend.
Saturday at SVMF saw very few hip-hop acts but once The Roots made moves to the Stawamus Stage at sunset so did every true music fan on the grounds. This wasn’t just a hip-hop set, it was music for the masses with every skilled piece of the band playing to his top excellence. Double-drummers, keys, horns, strings – everything was perfectly in-tune making it hard not to move. It’s difficult to put into words the depth of a Roots set – you just have to be there to know. The feeling is like the embodiment of music if you could put it on a single band. It was as if a wave of hip-hop, blues, funk and jazz spread over the entire crowd for a full hour at the right pace and time. Truly incredible and one of the best sets we saw at SVMF.
Sunday afternoon had another good Canadian boy taking the his spot at one of the major stages – the same stage Nas took two night prior – and what a performance it was. Clearly, whoever scheduled Shad, Danny Brown and SlowJam Sundays at the same time hadn’t thought it through but we caught Shad for a minute and he was as on-point as ever.
Anyone who has seen Shad come-up in the Canadian hip-hop scene knows that any notoriety he’s received is well deserved. Aside from being hugely talented he’s also a very humble guy. We’re proud to call him one of our own and from what we caught it was a stellar performance by Shad all the way through.
Sunday was packed with some of the best names in hip-hop and Danny Brown did not disappoint. Another highly anticipated performance at SVMF was the Detroit Bruiser who has been denied entry into Canada in his previous attempts to play the West Coast.
Excitement erupted as he took the stage mid-day for his very first performance this side of the Northwest. Favourites from Old and XXX made their way to the eardrums of the crowd and Brown got a turnt up as you would have expected him to be. He barely caught a breathe as he shot out tracks one after another like a spray of bullets eventually taking a moment to brief with the crowd after 30 minutes. “Hi Squamish. My name is Daniel” followed by his signature awkward giggle that mildly resembles Roger Rabbit.
His DJ kept the pace going before and after Danny came and left and that, combined with the energy of this quickly rising young star made for some interesting Sunday afternoon entertainment. Hopefully this won’t be the last the West Coast sees of Danny Brown.
Directly following the new school vibe of Danny Brown’s turnt up set, Slug and DJ Ant dropped some Minnesota magic on Stawamus Stage. These guys are no stranger to the West, being that they’ve toured through Vancouver every year for what feels like a decade.
Atmosphere’s sets are typically filled with classics like “God Loves Ugly” and cuts from whatever latest album they’ve recently released but this time around it was nice to see some of their older, lesser played joints like “Reflections” and appropriately timed numbers such as “Dirty Girl” – you know, since most of the crowd had been festival living, housed in tents for the entire weekend there were a lot of ’em.
Even though Slug was looking a tad thicker and a little more, well, mature, there was no sign that he’s slowing down anytime soon. This was one of the more enjoyable, laid-back Atmosphere shows we’ve seen to-date although it would have been nice to see him kick it backed by a live band like he’s done in the past.
The grande finale…the moment the people had all been waiting for…for the first time in Vancouver in close to a decade, Eminem had his way with an extensive crowd on the main Tantalus Stage for the closing performance at 2014’s Squamish Valley Music Festival.
Before he entered, a fake crime show make-up played on white screens as what appeared to have been sort of a sequel to the “Stan” video. Kind of strange but by the time it finished he quickly made his way on-stage and the unnecessary video drama intro was no longer questioned. He did his Slim Shady thing like one would expect – he came out fast and hard, berating the ear drums of what felt like a small army of Eminem saluting soldiers.
The buzz surrounding this performance was huge not only because, well, Eminem, but because it was rumoured that would be bringing out a special guest. The most common assumption? Well, Miss Rihanna of course, partly due to the fact that they had just been on tour together. But nope, no Rih. We did get Royce Da 5’9 though and for those who recognized, it was kinda of exciting.
Perhaps one of the coolest things we did see during Shady’s set was The Alchemist rocking a fresh KOTD t-shirt. In light of the recent Road to Total Slaughter and their recruiting some of KOTD’s finest, it was a pretty major thing to see that support and recognition of the Canadian battle scene full on. Bigs ups to Alchemist and King Of The Dot on that one.
Em was backed by a full band complete with back-up singer, who helped him properly execute tracks like “Stan” and “Love The Way You Lie” (no, still no Rih). Of Course tracks like “My Name Is” and “Kill You” had the crowd’s full attention and closing track “Lose Yourself” had fans singing along word for word.
He came (in sweat shorts), he saw, he conquered, proving that Eminem still has what it takes to bring out the angry white boy in all of us. It was a huge success for closing night at Squamish Valley Music Festival.
Written by KassKills for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada
Shad photos by Amanda Waschuk for Abortmag.com