Flyer for Element Music Festival 2017
Flyer for Element Music Festival 2017

Element Music Festival 2017 returns to Princeton, BC August 3-6, 2017

Preview by Ewan Ross

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After dipping their toes into the water in year one, the Element Music Festival is diving headfirst in their sophomore edition. Taking place over the “BC Day” holiday long weekend north of the border, August 3rd to 6th & located just north of Princeton, British Columbia, Canada, on 160 acres of breathtaking wilderness, fans will be treated to four nights of jam, funk, blues, bluegrass and psychedelic rock.

When I first set foot at the Snug Lake Amphitheater last August, the first thing that struck me was the natural beauty of the location. Whether it was the pristine forest surrounding the campgrounds, refreshing swimming in the cool, clear waters of Snug Lake or the scenic views of the sun setting over the Cascade Mountains, I immediately knew I was going to be in for a spectacular weekend. Once the sun set however, the natural beauty of the location really showed its true nature. As someone who’s lived amidst the bright lights of the Vancouver metropolis my entire life, I can’t express just how striking it is to look out into the surrounding mountains, and not being able to see even a single light shining back at you! Snug Lake is a truly special location.

the whole band

Majestic double rainbow at last year’s Element Festival

As for the musical side of the equation, last year’s festival was populated with local mainstays such as Five Alarm Funk, Roots Roundup & the Big Easy Funk Ensemble, as well as importing a fantastic headliner in up and coming progressive jamband Genetics from Colorado. While the entertainment last year was excellent, festival organizers have turned things up to 11 this year!

Each of Friday, Saturday & Sunday night’s festivities will be headlined by a full, two set show from Colorado’s String Cheese Incident.  Fans in the Pacific Northwest haven’t had the opportunity to take in the SCI experience in a multi-day festival with on site camping since 2013. With such an intimate and isolated location, I believe fans can expect one of the most unique and special performances the band has undertaken in many years.

Not to be outdone, fans that arrive early on Thursday night will be treated to the surprising return of Garaj Mahal. After close to a decade apart, Element will reunite their original lineup of Fareed Haque on guitar, Kai Eckhardt on bass, Alan Hertz on drums and Eric Levy on keys. Aside from their 2 set, 4 hour performance to kick off the festival on Thursday night, Garaj will also play two additional performances (one late night, and another leading into String Cheese on Saturday). Be very excited!

When rounding out the lineup, festival organizers have placed an emphasis on not crowding the event with an abundance of acts. Instead of having multiple, overlapping stages (which I personally dislike as a festival goer, since I always want to hear everything), Element will feature just a single main stage. Element also places an emphasis on long sets, letting each band have room to grow and explore while on stage. As a result, the shortest set is 90 minutes!

  • Last year’s headliner Genetics will be returning to what’s become their second home in southwest British Columbia. The five piece progressive jam rock outfit was the unquestioned star of last year’s festival, debuting much of the material which will appear on their upcoming sophomore album “Beast Mountain” which drops on March 14th. They also played the greatest version of David Bowie’s “Fame” that I’ve ever heard. It still stays with me!
  • Vancouver mainstays Five Alarm Funk return with their unique blend of funk and hard rock, not to mention a vibrant stage show. One of the hardest working bands in all of Canada, headlined by drummer (and frontman) Tayo Branston, Five Alarm Funk have always brought it on the musical front, but as they’ve evolved in their careers what’s really made them stand out from the pack is the performance aspect of their shows. As most of their albums have been of the concept variety, their stage show tells a story, complete with costumes and unique choreography. The octet will be touring in support of their 6th studio album “Sweat” which drops on March 17th.
  • Vancouver’s Big Easy Funk Ensemble (colloquially known as BEFE, or beefy) are a New Orleans-style jazz band known for their unique arrangements of classic songs from the likes of Dr. John, Little Feat, The Meters & more. While every member of this nine-piece orchestra stands out in their own right, the true star of the band is frontman Chris Berry. The energy and passion that Chris brings to the stage is unrivaled, and turns a group that would already be very impressive in their own right into an experience that should not be missed!
  • Blues-rock band Brickhouse spent more than 10 years as the house band of the famous Yale Hotel. In the more than two decades they have been together they’ve established themselves as one of the most reliable live acts in the Vancouver scene.

Element’s lineup is not quite complete, and festival organizers shared with me some of the names they have been in discussions with to fill the remaining slots… names that anyone in the jam world are well familiar with! These acts will be ones that appear near the top of the bill, so ticket buyers can expect a very pleasant surprise once that announcement drops!

For further information, head to their website.

Ticketing information is available at Eventbrite.

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.