Anyone with a serious interest in live music knows there’s something that can’t be beat about an outdoor summer show.
“It’s just a special event. It’s usually something that has a lot more meaning to people,” Victoria’s Jets Overhead lead singer Adam Kittredge said. “They’re crazy, extremely-important-to-the-individual type events because usually people go way out of their way to get to them.”
Maybe it’s the sun (forecasts look good), maybe it’s the acoustics, maybe it’s that certain sense of collective joy that you get from taking in your favourite bands with a few thousand instant friends. There are no chairs to divide you, no house lights separating your experience from that of the band’s. There is only the music, the people and the party.
There are a number of reasons Jets Overhead likes playing outdoor shows. For one, it gives them a chance to play to a large crowd, as opposed to playing clubs or theatres. Another reason is the immediacy. Kittredge said it’s often “run and gun,” with no time for sound checks, adding a certain energy to the performance that is hard to find elsewhere.
“We’re super psyched and looking forward to it big time,” Kittredge said. “Hopefully we’ll have a beautiful summer, crazy festival.”
Good weather is key to a great outdoor summer festival, said Scott Stanton, lead singer and guitarist of Current Swell, also a Victoria band.
And, if the elements align just right, there really is nothing like it.
“It’s just that feeling of summer, music, barbeque, drinking beers,” Stanton said. “It almost makes you feel like you’re living in the ‘60s or something, like Woodstock, and taking it all in. I love festivals.”
Stanton remembers going to see Feist play on the steps of the Legislature in 2008 for B.C. Day with a sea of people. It’s a highlight of his outdoor concert going experiences, which also includes going to Sasquatch!, the annual music festival in George, Wash. In fact, playing Sasquatch! remains a main goal for the band.
“I just remember being very intoxicated and running around … trying to see every single show I could,” Stanton said. “And you still can’t see them all. But it’s a lot of fun.”
One of Kittredge’s first outdoor summer concert experiences was going as a teenager to Lollapolloza in 1994 in Vancouver. The first band on the stage was Green Day, right in the middle of their Dookie fame, followed by The Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys and other now legendary acts at the height of their talents.
“It was insane,” Kittredge said. “Just the energy. For me as a kid, being around that many people, the collective joy is just overwhelming.”
It’s that shared experience, said Kittredge, “that’s probably the coolest part about big venue concerts, … you have thousands and thousands of people all experiencing the same happiness and sharing something together, an experience together. I think that’s probably one of the most powerful and arguably religious experiences you can have on this earth.”
Both Jets Overhead and Current Swell will join The Tragically Hip and The Sam Roberts Band to play Rock the Shores this Friday on the lower fields of the West Shores Parks and Recreation complex.