FVDED In The Park: Day 1 Highlights and how Bryson Tiller shut down Holland Park with Trapsoul
Surrey, BC – For a festival that’s only passed it’s 2nd year in full completion, FVDED In The Park set anticipations high for this year’s event by reeling in a high profile line-up featuring some of the most-influential and current names in rap and electronic music. Blueprint Events, the founder and mastermind behind the festival, have established themselves as one of the most forward thinking live entertainment organizers on the West Coast by consistently bringing artists who are boundary pushing and innovative. The interesting thing about this particular festival is the collaborative recruitment of artists who are literally on the verge of breaking through to internationally recognized grounds, while still curating a two-day experience that is both accessible and of the highest quality.
Part of the appeal is being able to see these artists in close proximity before it’s impossible to catch them again in this intimate of a setting. The festival is huge but not too large that you can’t make your way to the front of the audience to catch a great glimpse of the various acts. Last year featured artists such as: Ty Dolla $ign, Vic Mensa, The Weeknd, Tyler, The Creator, and Danny Brown. Ty Dolla put out Free TC the fall after his appearance, and Vic’s performance was a taste of what we saw on his recently released project There’s A Lot Going On. If you were in attendance, you managed to catch a lot of up-and-comers without the high price tag of a stadium show, and generally before they released content that progressed them into the next stage of their careers.
Ideally, this is what most festivals should aim to achieve – a musical experience that is equally as inspired as the artists they are featuring. Besides Pemberton Music Festival, and Squamish Valley Music Festival (which unfortunately wasn’t announced this year), there aren’t many of the experiences of this magnitude on the West Coast that give us a taste of what’s going on in the international music community. Chances are that if you didn’t have plans this past weekend you probably hit up this festival with us.
This year’s line-up was a step up from the last in terms of mixing influential rap and R&B alongside some of the best producers in the game. It was even more exciting for us to see some national talent on that list beside the likes of Bryson Tiller (because if we’re really honest, he’s on his own level right now). Set to take place this past weekend in Holland Park in Surrey, BC on July 2nd and 3rd – the lineup included talents such as They., Belly, GoldLink, Bryson Tiller, Jazz Cartier, Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, D.R.A.M., Kaytranada, Gallant, and Tommy Genesis. We’re here to give you a recap of some of the most epic highlights from Day 1 because in all honesty, this whole weekend provided an arsenal of great performances that will keep us buzzing for the next few months.
Also known as the “mysterious R&B duo” who came out of left field, They. had a huge opening year leading them into 2016. The duo is comprised of Dante and Drew, two songwriters based out of L.A. who released their first EP Nu Religion this past year. But you might have caught onto them as Bryson Tiller’s openers on his recent Trapsoul tour. For a group that had never performed live before their time touring alongside Tiller, they came into the fore-front of the music community with their bases loaded. Nu Religion is a well-established, and well-executed EP which meshes rock, hip-hop, and R&B into your current library (check that here). Personally, I love their sound and I know many other attendees were thoroughly looking forward to seeing them live at FVDED too.
Their set started off the festival at the main stage shortly after the gates opened. It’s tough opening, let alone for a festival where people are only starting to drift in. Unfortunately Drew was missing from the set as he recovered in the hospital from illness, but Dante still did his thing and came out there with a set that drew in everyone as they filtered in the entrance. I can imagine that together these guys would have completely lit things up, but Dante did a notable job on his own even without half of the contributing energy to assist. It says something about the artists when they can still carry themselves well through challenging live situations.
The whole EP received full rotation with personal highlights including “Motley Crue”. It should be noted they were one of the few acts of the weekend which included a live band which was a nice move. “Back It Up” is what I came to Saturday the most excited for, and it didn’t let down. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with this momentum throughout the next year, and we’re hoping they make a full return to Vancouver in the near future.
There is nothing average about this artist. Let me reinforce this and say it again. There is nothing average about this artist.
We feature Jazz Cartier often on HipHopCanada as one of the strongest artists leading the national rap community. When Hotel Paranoia dropped, his spotlight subsequently widened. But his set at FVDED proved by how much it has over this last year, and that he’s finally received international spotlight for being more than just a Canadian rapper. His late afternoon time-slot proposed that the event organizers also had faith that he could draw in a particularly large crowd.
He came out of left field as one of my favourite shows this weekend, and by far the most impressive. Whether or not you came as a Jazz fan, you probably left as one. Different from many other performers, he was engaging, interactive, and had the majority of the audience mobbing with him for the duration (so insanely that a fight broke out mid-set which interrupted “Stick and Move”) Transfer of energy between artist and audience is a real thing, and everyone was definitely feeding off of his.
He jumped on stage with “Talk of the Town” and was swinging his mic stand and running between the sides of the stage as if it was his real home. There was an obvious comfort that he wielded that is impossible to fake, and it something an artist is born with or learns after years of live performances. He was vocal about being proud to be a homegrown talent as he expressed, “B.C.’s like my fucking second home already, you know what I’m saying?” Most of Hotel Paranoia was played, and included highlights such as: “100 Roses”, “I Know”, “How We Do It”, and “Never Too Faded” among others. If you were front row during “Red Alert” good chance you were caught in the mosh pit of 20 year-old guys who were yelling every word. At one point during “Opera” he started climbing the barricade of the stage and was swinging while rapping down to us from above. Saying his set was lit would be a complete understatement.
Respect is really due to Blueprint for including multiple Canadian artists to their roster this year. Belly was a surprising addition to the line-up that had most people drawn to the smaller stage after Jazz Cartier’s set. He’s been around in the game for longer than most, having released his first debut album The Revolution back in 2007. The release of Up For Days a year ago was a move that reminded most of the potential he was still wielding, and hosted an assortment of dope features from the likes of Travis Scott and The Weeknd. But his signing to Roc Nation in late 2015 and collaborations with XO on tracks like “The Hills” suggested that we were going to see a very strong re-entry from the Ottawa-based rapper.
And a strong re-entry was exactly what he executed with his feature length album Another Day in Paradise that dropped a mere month ago. He was included in the line-up months ago, so the festival came at the perfect timing to frame the recent release. You can’t stream it online anymore, but it’s suggested that you go cop it on iTunes as it features Starrah, Travis Scott, Kehlani, Lil Wayne, Juicy J, and Waka Flocka Flame.
The hype was alive, and waiting at stage front I was able to hear other fans talking about how they were here to witness his comeback or had been told by others that his set was worth checking out. He came onto the stage donning a Muhammad Ali cloak (only Belly could pull this off in such regal fashion and hot weather) and rapping “Might Not” featuring the Weeknd. It was a smart opening track, and drew in everyone in the general vicinity.
Highlights of his performance included “No Option”, “Ballerina”, “Zanzibar”, “Money Go” and “You”. Mid-set he brought out a surprise guest, and Waka Flocka came out to assist on “Exotic”. While Belly was doing his thing independently, Waka’s appearance helped make the set even more hype. By this point in the afternoon most people in attendance were highly under the influence, so everyone was in good spirits and ready to turn-up for him.
During a break between songs he described the first time he was asked to make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel and explained, “I heard a certain fuckboy named Trump was going to be there the same night. So on my first major tv appearance of course I pulled out. I pulled out nice and strong. It was something I felt like I had to do.” He then proceeded to get the crowd to raise their middle fingers and yell “Fuck Donald Trump!” The audience reacted really well to this, and throughout his performance he maintained other conversations with us that felt like a conversation between friends rather than a distant performer. He may be a veteran in the game, but there wasn’t anything conceited about his performance. It was comfortable to watch and easy to listen because he was stoked to be there with us as well.
The line-up for Saturday’s events featured many notable faces and names, but if we’re being completely honest everyone was the most excited to catch a glimpse of an artist who came out of nowhere and shook the industry over this last year. Bryson Tiller is the success story of an artist who championed the current times of social media, and music uprisings via the internet.
The appeal is in his unassuming nature, and in his story of a semi low-key and private dude who blew up from a few songs on Soundcloud. It’s the dream for many hopeful artists, and it’s what made his rise so captivating. His particular story has entranced many, and his lyrical perspective is one that the female audience was first most excited to latch onto. Many of his songs weave reminiscent thoughts of lust and love, and the realization of the importance of the devotion to the one that held his heart (who is also the mother of his child).
Trapsoul is a love story in itself, and a beautifully woven one full of melodic croons, insightful lyrics, and self-exploration – while still bringing bars to break up these heavy emotions. The album was a breath of fresh air in a heavily dense industry that’s been almost anti-love and loyalty. When his album came out, his female audiences seemed to feel like their desires were finally represented, while dudes also finally had a perspective that hadn’t been expressed. The album was a game changer.
So, Saturday night was poised to be a moment that everyone wanted to witness. Anyone who knows of his success also knows how selective he is about appearances. Wherever you were in the park, as soon as those iconic croons hit the speakers, you were making your way to the main stage.
Collectively there were thousands of people in attendance, and it was a pretty beautiful sight to see as he drew them all in. The size of the audience in comparison to his small frame on the stage was a testament to just how strongly music has the ability to influence people. I was initially interested to see how his tracks would fare with an audience that was probably on multiple types of substances. It was expressed that some guys thought his set might be too slow to keep everyone entertained. While his music obviously isn’t party-banging material (with the exception of “Rambo” that had everyone mobbing) it still managed to provide an atmosphere that did the event justice and kept the thousands of people in the park in one spot.
His voice was just as moving in a live setting, if not a bit warmer and rounder as it rolled out of the speakers and filled every inch of the park. Songs that were personal favourites which he performed were “Been That Way”, “Exchange”, “Overtime”, “Sorry Not Sorry”, and “Let Em’ Know” – but the list could go on. Every song seemed to be as good as you would anticipate, if not better because they held specific personal relevance to individual listeners.
There was a cool exchange which humanized him as he took a video of us for his snapchat. But just as quickly as he appeared, his hit set ended and he was gone – leaving us just as quickly. There was a resounding feeling that we’d be reflecting on the experience for some time, if not until our next encounter with him. This must’ve been how he felt about his lady, cause we’re sure missing his presence already and it’s only been two days. On Saturday night, Vancouver and Surrey fell in love with Tiller, and there’s no denying that he’s the real deal.
Review written by Kira Hunston for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada