Festival Review: Pemberton Music Festival — A Mountain Of A Music Destination

PembyFest Waterslide
A Music Blog, Yea? recently teamed up with do416 and Pemberton to run a festival flyaway to the incredible festival. Below our lucky winner, Gilles LeBlanc, shares his complete Pemberton experience — enjoy!

I’ve always considered myself a pretty lucky guy, but I when I found out I had won a flyaway contest to the revived Pemberton Music Festival courtesy of Do416, well…my wife said I should have bought some lottery tickets while I was on a roll!

This is because I’m somewhat of a festival junkie. In 2014 alone I’ve already done Canadian Music Week, Field Trip, North by Northeast and TURF, with Riot Fest still to look forward to. Who in their right mind is going to pass up a free trip to beautiful BC though? Neither my wife nor I are what you’d call “outdoor types,” but I was definitely willing to rough it out for the opportunity to experience one of the best festival lineups North America has to offer this summer.

I hope for Pemberton’s sake that this is the first of many more annual events to come. There was a 3-day fest in the same general area back in 2008 – I know because I saw a lot of retro T-shirts while out there – but it was apparently marred by pre-Olympic transportation problems, as well as overflowing garbage and Port-A-Potties. Ew.

New organizer Huka Entertainment has gone to great lengths, not to mention expense, to make Pemberton the best festival in Canada. Forget being a poor cousin to Coachella; this was easily the most scenic environment I have ever seen, and I got to watch concerts there! I ended up bringing my nature-loving 12-year old daughter, who had an awesome time among the mountains and trees. Do416 and Huka set us up with “comfy camping,” meaning we didn’t have to lug our own tent or any other equipment onsite. All we had to do is rock out, which we tried our best to live up to.

PembyFest Whistler
Our music highpoints included blues beauty ZZ Ward, along with ageless legends Blondie and Violent Femmes. Metric was really good too considering the band has been “off” for most of the year. And speaking of rusty…er, cages, I don’t know how much they’d like to hear their music being called Dad Rock, but this former grunge father quite enjoyed Soundgarden. Nine Inch Nails’ seizure-inducing light show wasn’t too shabby either ;)

As I’m sure a lot of you heard, there was a death over the weekend. While it’s sad and something that is still being investigated, it’s unfortunately something fests like Bonnaroo and Glastonbury have had to deal with when you have tens of thousands of campers combined with binge drinking and not-so-subtle drug use. This said, I must give kudos to Huka by saying that my daughter and I felt safe at all times in Pemberton. We chose to come home Sunday morning (forgoing OutKast and Frank Ocean), correctly thinking that three nights in a tent was more than enough for two non-campers, no matter how comfy!

Aside from a sunburn, we loved every minute of our Pemb-tastic adventure, but I have to be honest – Give me a more urban festival where I can go home to my own bed at the end of the night…even if it’s the rumoured Lollapalooza Toronto next year. (Which Do416 also gave a trip away to!)

Review by winner and music lover Gilles LeBlanc |

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