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My Bonfire Report


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After missing the last ferry from Nanaimo that would have gotten us to Vancouver with enough time to catch the ferry to the Sunshine Coast. We turned back and spent the night having a few beers in my backyard. Not quite the same as Gratefully Dedicated Sound System but what can you do.

The next morning we got up early and tried to get the 10:20 ferry but had to wait in line for the 11:50. After the second ferry trip and the drive up the Coast we got to the grounds at about 5 pm and Jackfruit was just starting. After getting the tents set up I caught the last 3 songs by Jackfruit and they were in fine form.

We then went over to the acoustic stage where, I believe his name was Wilson, was playing an guitar and singing. And wow, did he ever mangle and destroy some classic songs by legendary artists. Not quite sure how he slipped into the line-up, it was kind of like James Blunt but he was singing Dylan and Floyd songs. Ah, I won't go on more but I think you get the point that it was bad.

Then themasses came on the main stage and they kicked my ass. They put on an awesome set which included a cover of Nelly's "It's getting Hot In Here" and so many teases of Zepplin's "The Ocean" that I couldn't stop laughing. This show was probably the highlight of my weekend.

Next came Flowmotion from Seatle. These guys were pretty good players but they were a little bit to smooth rock for my liking. They did have their moments though and all in all I enjoyed the show.

Another group of players came up after Flowmotion and played until I don't know how late as it was past my bedtime.

The next morning I woke up and it was still cold and raining. It wasn't until midmorning that the crazy thunder and lightnig started and it began to seriously pour. Then after and hour or so it somehow started to rain harder. I assume that this is the time that my tent completely flooded soaking all my spare clothes and pillow blanket. Yipee!

Baked Potato sounded solid from where I was sitting as did Hey Ocean!. The acoustic stage was also much improved with a good bluegrass band that covered "Big Time In The Jungle", Kit and Tim were awesome as well. I'd been waiting a while to see them play and was only disappointed by how short the set was.

The Wassabi Collective also played on Saturday. Now I completly fell in love with this band 4 years ago when I first heard them. Now though I have no idea what their appeal is to people. There sound is so much more polished than it used to be, and I'm not saying that in a positive way. That whole white reagae star thing is beyond me. The dude didn't just sing with a made up accent but he talked to the crowd the same way. It was like an Al Jolson show.

I had never seen Brickhouse before and although they are an excellent group of musicians how have they're style down it really wasn't my bag. I felt like I was at my local bar that I never go to because there is always music like that playing. Although their cover of Tennessee Jed was a lot of fun and the rest of the crowd seemed to be loving it.

Then Mark from Caution Jam played on the acoustic stage filling in for Mike from Burt Neilson Band. That was awesome. I might have been dissappointed that Mike wasn't there had they not found such an awesome replacement.

RAQ didn't go on stage until 1 or 2 in the morning. This really disappointed me because I was looking forward to seeing them, they were after all the headliner. They seemed awesome but I was so tired I had to leave after their first set and sleep in my friends car. It seemed that others had the same idea as me because by the time I left the crowd had shrunk by half since Brickhouse. I awoke several times in the night due to the cold and I think they played until 3 or 4 in the morning and were then followed by GDSS until dawn.

The next day I think I was on the verge of hypothermia but miraculously the sun came out and warmed everything up.

Headwater on the Sunday were very good. They were kind of like an Old Crow Medicine Show type of band. Not quite bluegrass, not quite country, all awesome.

Slammin Jack was a treat though. So much fun. They played alot of my favorites like The Whirl, Lucy and Lando. They even had an acoustic portion which was a lot of fun. Ending the set with "I was made for loving you" was just classic. One of my favorite acts of the weekend for sure.

Then on the acoustic stage it was Papa Josh who I had never seen and thought was pretty funky. Good times on the loop pedel.

Garaj Mahal finally came on the main stage at about 12:30 or so and they were hands down the best group of players I have seen. It was insane just driving funky rhythms and phenomenal playing. And so tight! Once again though it started to late for me and I had to go to sleep not far into the second set. I heard them invite Papa Josh up with them for part of the second set though.

We left early the next morning and that was it.

All in all I thought it was a good festival. I was kind of surprised by the amount of acts that I honestly didn't like as last year there really wasn't any. The space is also just as good, IMO as the last venue. Not as good of a stage but better camping.

There's nothing you can do about the weather though and maybe if I had been warm and toasty I wouldn't have been quite so cranky and wouldn't have a cold now.

The late night time slots for the headlining acts really pissed me off though. I really wanted to see RAQ and Garaj Mahal all the way through. It seems though that they were made exclusive to those that either slept till 3 in the afternoon or were on drugs. Maybe I just should have taken some acid. A simpiler solution would have been to have the headlining acts start at a decent time so every one can enjoy them and then have acts that are less of a draw play all night for the hardcore.

Well that's my take on Bonfire 2007. Thanks for reading this far.

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A simpiler solution would have been to have the headlining acts start at a decent time so every one can enjoy them and then have acts that are less of a draw play all night for the hardcore.

Yeah, I'd have to say that I generally prefer when things are set up that way as well. That way, everyone is happy. If you feel like raging on, than there's something to feed that. If you opt to sleep at some point, than you're still left satisfied and get your money's worth...

Thanks for the review.

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I think you are a bit harsh on Wassabi Collective - I've been playing reggae for a couple of years and I've heard countless reggae singers and to be honest there are very few who have the song-writing ability as Gisto has shown in his own project and in Wassabi Collective. That being said - in Toronto there are countless MCs who are full on Canadian but speak in a Jamaican patois - I don't think that Gisto lays it on as thick as does some of these Toronto Guys - i think that in todays society you can be whoever you want - and that people are influenced by all types of culture s.

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I think that in todays society you can be whoever you want - and that people are influenced by all types of culture s.

Yeah but... but you are who you are.

For example... I love Stars, but it kind of erks me that Torq (from Montreal) sings with a full on British accent a la Bernard Sumner- I still like the band quite a bit though. But come on....

I think people can easily spot and appreciate honesty - whether it be in lyrics, appearance or even singing/speaking accent. I find it very easy (but not always the case) to be turned off by someone who is 'fronting' or not being genuine.

That being said - Gisto is kicking ass at what he's doing these days. From seeing him 10 years ago to the playing and writing he's doing now is definately a treat. But I don't think DJ was commenting on his writing, mind you. And they definately are a different band than 4 years ago. Ahhh... the benefit of being a collective!!

Thanks for the review of Bonfire of course! I was wanting to know how it went. I'd definately like experience the vibe of a West coast festival as opposed to our Ontario and Eastern ones.

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Hey all.

I'm still working Bonfire! Driving around emptying the trucks, picking up ticket $$$, etc, etc, etc... We'll hopefully have everything wrapped in ABOUT A MONTH!!!

Anyhow, I know 'Melba' was a little grumpy from his plight this weekend (some rain, the other CHLY DJ that went home 'sick' on Friday night & a few other things too) so I'm just going to post a review from another board that gives a different side to the whole experience.

From 'KindVibes' :

Whoa – whoaaaaaaaa ~~

(Ok – I’m still glowing and babbling from the whole thing, so be warned and get comfy – this is a lengthy review…)

What a blast that was! Beginning to end, nonstop, great times. The new site is wonderful, with lots of potential for the future.

The bands were all in fine form. It all started (for me) on Friday with my favorite show so far from Themasses – they were on fire and got things hoppin’ on the good foot. Flowmotion was excellent – if I’d known they were going to be so hot I would definitely have stuck around for their show at the Meltdown the weekend before. Their ‘Pigs’ (Floyd) cover was one of the many highlights of the weekend for me. Great stuff ~

On Saturday, Baked Potato played a solid set of fun, groove-friendly music that got us warmed up for the day. Wassabi was cool, but didn’t do it for me like some of the other bands. Brickhouse…although they probably drew the biggest crowd of the weekend, I tried to get into them and just couldn’t. They seemed to be crowd pleasers, but it just kinda reaffirmed why I’m always lukewarm about the Yale late night sessions. Raq played a ripping show, although the guitar player is a bit shred-happy for my taste – I kept thinking, ‘less notes, more groove’…in spite of that, I danced hard for most of their show, then kicked back on those great mattresses in the chill zone and watched the last couple of songs from there.

Sunday was the capper – the centerpiece – a fitting finale…the triumphant return of Slammin’ Jack, on top of their game after a year’s hiatus. The boys were in fine form, laying down many familiar favorites with great energy, sweet vocal harmonies and fantastic playing. Then, the main event – Garaj Mahal took the stage and proceeded to blow me away – as always, but it seemed even more so. At times I couldn’t believe what I was seeing or hearing. Kai is simply astounding to watch. The whole band is, but he has got to be the most unabashedly funky bass player ever. Garaj was the dance party of the weekend for me, with all the usual suspects out in force, and seriously getting down. It is amazing to me that we get to see that caliber of musicianship in our own back yard…that I can ride the rail and have all the elbow room I need to boogie. Those guys deserve to be heard by much larger audiences, but I feel so fortunate to get to see them in such intimate and familiar settings.

All the music was amazing – I danced hard all three days & nights, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. But that is only one of the wonderful things about Bonfire. I remembered this about the first year too…because it is a relatively small, ‘hometown’ festival, there is plenty of time to kick back, relax in the daytime, and really hang out with people. I really enjoyed getting to know a lot of friends better and meeting some great new people too. The festival is great for strengthening ties, creating new ones, and generally making the circle bigger and wider. I got to connect with a lot of people I hadn’t seen or had a good visit with in quite a while, and I think that is something that is truly special and unique about Bonfire.

So – some people deserve some special, big huge THANKS: First of course, Keither – the guy pours his heart and soul into the weekend, and it’s clear that it’s all about the music. Whenever I saw him, if he wasn’t running around taking care of the endless business, he was out there on the dancefloor, groovin’ hard with a big smile on his face. Despite weather issues, and no doubt countless other challenges throughout the whole thing, Keith was out there having a great time with the rest of us, and I think that he is at the heart of the spirit of the whole festival.

Bruce seemed to be going 24/7, making everything sound great from beginning to end. The guy is a mad scientist of sound, and we are so fortunate to have him dialing it in so perfectly for us. He is another true professional who never came close to coming unglued even at the craziest moments of the whole event. Considering all the setup the week prior and all the work during the weekend (his vacation, by the way), his boundless positivity and energy were remarkable. Plus he set me up with a wicked board patch for Sunday night – thanks Moose!

Calm was hard at it nonstop all weekend long too, but also always had a big smile when I saw him around – this was true of pretty much the whole Bonfire team.

And of course there was Sam, Jay (‘Free Form’) Powers and their glitter squad, working and playing tirelessly to bring the glowy, fun colour and great vibes that really made the party go off. With the right budget, I think these fun-fiends could rival the Peak Experience team.

…and everyone else who contributed so much of their time to making the festival happen – all the big production stuff, but all the little details too. I think I speak on behalf of pretty much everyone who attended when I say that we are very grateful for all your hard work over the past week, and months before, and right now (as they continue to work, taking the whole site apart and dealing with the aftermath).

The weather…oh ya, that…it was bad or something…? I didn’t notice – I was too busy raging the whole time! A few showers, and some cloudy skies, but they were well placed – each evening was nice and dry for dancing. The one serious downpour we did have was nice and dramatic (and short) – I was all cozy in my sleeping bag, feeling the thunder shake the ground under my air mattress. Then the sun came out and it was glorious. I am the world’s biggest wimp when it comes to rain – especially when I’m camping - and it didn’t phase me a bit. I hardly noticed the sporadic showers we did get.

Other highlights included the Lion’s grand slam breakfast on Sat/Sunday mornings. What a feast! A great way to start the days, and such a deal!

So we packed it all up today, made our way home, and after a long shower, a hot tub session, some sushi, beer and a video (thanks for the recommendation, Garth) I am feeling totally happy and satisfied, and ready to return to reality…after a good 8-10 hours of sleep in a real bed, that is. Bonfire was just all around wonderful - the perfect way to end off a spectacular summer festival season, and I’m already looking forward to next year – woo hooo!!


ps: My favorite saying of the weekend, heard late night/early morning: “Sit up and party!â€

Ahhh, good times, good times…thanks everyone!!

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I hear ya on...

turned off by someone who is 'fronting' or not being genuine.

... I don't feel that way myself about Gisto's singing -

I guess I am defending him because he gave me a CD of his demo work upon his last visit and I think it's some of the best reggae I have heard lately - the music and lyrics resonated with me more than a lot of other music that was put out this year.

From what I know of Gisto - he's been playing reggae for 10 years or more - starting with his first band Kangaroo in London Ontario. He's played with genuine Jamaican players coast to coast. Aside from all that I think he's a great guitar player - he doesn't really sound like anyone else imo.

by the way thanks for posting this review - I really wanted to go - I was out at Shambhala the weekend before and I was very dissapointed I could n't stay out west for longer.

Maybe I just should have taken some acid

you didn't say much about the crowd - was there a big turn out for this ? I'd imagine that there should be 800 + people out for this line up.

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I'm not familiar enough with Gisto's work to really comment on him specifically. But to me, reggae is a style of music, a form of expression. You don't have to "necessarily" be a big, black rasta man to channel that (although if it is clearly a part of who you are, and where you have come from, it will likely flow more naturally...which shows). While certain "styles" tend to evoke different sounds and approaches with musical instruments, I think the same can be said about vocals. Reggae without the patois would sound a little strange (unless its purely instrumental) I can't really think of many examples where that is the case (but hey, if anyone can think of an example that's worth listening to, I'd give it a shot I suppose)...

Reggae to me is about putting out a certain energy. Some don't have it, and in that case I guess it would come across as a "front", or forced, and I agree that is an unpleasant and contrived listening experience. But you don't have to be white to fit into that category.

I used to thoroughly enjoy the vibe put out by Friendlyman (I think that was his handle), that used to play with Truths and Rights. (Are they still around?)

Anyways, I'm rambling...

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thanks for your input edger!

Truths n Rights are still around - you don't hear much from them of late - they did win Reggae Album of the year Juno just last year.

MC Friendlyness, their vocalist, is a total Toronto born white man - but with his dreads and irie vibe you'd be hard-pressed not to think he's an authentic reggae artist - his group Superheavy Reggae are the top DJ Selectas in the city... and his band is full on jamaican.

I agree with what you are saying that the patois is kind of essential part of the vibe - and that reggae is very much a form of expression - and whether you are black or not - as long as you are playing the music with some semblance of authenticity & respect of the style's history then race should not be a factor.

ramble on!

check out some gisto tunes here:


also check out one of my favorite 'white' reggae stars - Collie Budz


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Friday August 17th

Bonfire Festival

Look Ka Py Py (Meters cover)


Badder Than Evil

Turnwheel > The Ocean tease

Los Manilleres

Barbelle >

Hugo Ponch (The Ocean tease during bass solo)

Also Spratch Zarathustra > (2001 A Space Odyssey Theme - first time played)

Odd S.E. >


Pareidolia >

Northaus >

JBCO > The Ocean tease

Hot In Herre (Nelly cover)

Thrice >

The Ocean >

Drift Thing pt. II >

The Ocean

(Click on JBCO to see the youtube video)

Once again, we had a seriously fun time! Thanks Bonfire!

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I don't think that it's easy enough to say that theMasses rocked that tall tent harder than pretty much everybody that weekend. Of course RaQ and Garaj are heavyweights, but there's something to be said for direction and sound and theMasses, Slammin' Jack, Headwater, and Jackfruit had everybody beat for vibe and strength IMO.

Brickhouse and Wassabi played solid sets, both having shining moments and being tiiiight players, but after the weekend ended there's nothing you could say that would put anybody over and above the groovy young locals that Bonfire brought up the coast.

I'm glad that I don't have anything to grumble about the Garaj set this time around. Perhaps it was because I'd been drinking all weekend or all the fun things I'd been eating in the forest (not just cantaloupe and pineapple), but I don't think it's fair to chock it up to consumption...There was this one time I saw them...I thought i'd not really heard the entire set properly...turns out I heard them just fine as they were just as unamusing at Meltdown last weekend (darrington, WA) - but this past weekend was actually a kickass set. I hope I get to hear that set again sometime.

But seriously, it's not so much about the music for me as it is the time well spent...which is a total bonus because this year's lineup kicked serious ass.

I was so glad to get out of the city and be up the coast. A dip in ruby lake, time spent with some amazing friends, and responsibility's stranglehold on my weekend kept me in check and glad to be where I was in the drizzle. Tonight's the first night in a week that I've spent at home.

the only thing about the Bonfire festival is the lack of a bonfire. I guess it's just like Come together when everybody's off in their tents or at their campsites.

Hopefully next year somebody'll throw a festival called 'hot girls keep your clothes, stay out of the baby oil pool, and don't touch each other'. Considering some hairy dude stole my girlfriend's bikini and wore it all around the campground for RaQ and thereafter on Saturday night I think I could handle leaving her at home for that one.

Anybody got photos of bikini guy?

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Bonfire was amazing. I've probably got tonnes to say, but not going to right now. If you want to see other reviews, definetely check out the review section in the upstreamentertainment.com message board and in the bonfirepresents.com message board.

Here's what I could piece together from the Slammin Jack setlest. I may edit this if I ever hear the show or find the piece of paper. It definetely was a real big treat to have the band together again for the practicing and the show. I'll have my fingers crossed in hopes that we do it again next year.

Slammin Jack - Bonfire 2007 Setlist

Migration >

Odd Man Rush

Harbinger of Harbingers

The Whirl

Eat More Pie


*The Big Red Van

**Two Deers Buckin’

#Black Creek > Drums > Black Creek


A Hole

Jugo Puerco


##I Was Made For Loving You

* Acoustic Sean song with Sean singing and on Guitar. As well with Jay Guthrie on Mandolin. First time played.

** Acoustic Jay song with Jay singing and Sean back on the drums.

# Acoustic beginning, still with Jay on mandolin, then after drums, electric ending.

## Kiss cover. First time played.

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Coming from an Ontarian who's been to tonnes of the early years of CTMF, and a bunch of Evolve Festivals, I'd say that asside from skiing, Bonfire Festival is the greatest excuse to come take a trip out west. I'm sure they're gonna pull it together for next year, so try to make it out!

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