BreakOut West / Rifflandia 2015: Biggest festival in Victoria’s history

October 01, 2015

Western Canada’s largest annual music-industry event doubled in size this year with BreakOut West (BOW) teaming up with Rifflandia in British Columbia’s capital city.

The five-day soiree, which includes a conference, music festival and the Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMAs), showcased performances in venues scattered throughout downtown Victoria. At times, it seemed like every nook, cranny, and parking lot of the relatively small city was bursting with people and music—all within walking distance of the harbour front and beautiful downtown core.

Amid all of the festival action, the industry awards were doled out during an Industry Awards Brunch, which included a moving tribute to the late Derek Bachman, former executive director of SaskMusic, who tragically passed away last December, followed the next day by the main awards event, where trophies were handed out in artistic categories.

Hosted by CBC’s Grant Lawrence, the finale awards show featured performances by Tanya TagaqThe Harpoonist & The Axe MurdererJoe SilvaAnnetteJesse RoperSarah MacDougallThe Wet Secrets and 2015 Hall of Fame inductees NoMeansNo. Every year, industry buyers from around the world come to BOW to feast on the biggest break out acts emerging out of Western Canada, while also participating in group discussions, panels, and round table sessions. Indeed, it’s a great opportunity for artists to network, learn from industry pros, and gain direct exposure for their music. For some, the event can be a game-changer for their careers.

Festival highlights:

Bend Sinister (BC) – Sunset Room

With their mix of indie, prog, and pop, Bend Sinister tore down the house. But it wasn’t just their music that was impressive. Three songs in, bass player, Matt Rhode, blew his knee out because he was rocking way too hard. Even still, he managed to perform until set’s end while a stage hand strapped ice to his leg before being hauled out on a stretcher. His adrenaline could certainly be felt in the room. For this, Bend Sinister deserves level 10 Epic Rocker status.

Iskwé (MB) – Fort Tectoria

I’ve been hearing good things about Iswké for years now. We’ve even written about her on Amplify, but I had to see her with my own eyes to understand what all the hype was about.

Having now witnessed her perform live, I can confirm that Iskwé is a star. She has it all—stage presence, a captivating aesthetic and raw talent, along with a powerful message. “This song is for Tina Fontaine,” she said before launched into her song “Will I See,” inspired by the First Nations teenager that was found lifeless wrapped in a garbage bag in Winnipeg’s Red River in 2014, renewing a call for an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women.

It was a heavy song, but one that the audience loved. As she performed, the whole room at Fort Tectoria shook from the weight of their applause.

Luca Fogale (BC) – Alix Goolden Performance Hall

If you’ve ever stepped inside the Alix Goolden Hall or seen Luca Fogale perform live, you’ll understand what a truly magical pairing that is. It’s one of those perfect combinations that makes the world outside stop and everything and everyone around you become a little more connected. Listen to his track below and picture yourself sitting in front of a stage with a massive pipe organ as a backdrop—all is quiet and still with acoustics so mesmerizing they linger.

Samantha Savage Smith (AB) – Metro Theatre

It’s always a pleasure to see a friendly face when travelling to another part of the country, especially when that face belongs to Samantha Savage Smith. It feels like I’ve watched her perform a hundred times before; the first time was almost five years ago at The Slice (Lethbridge, Alberta’s gem of a live music venue and pizza joint). I was on a first date with my partner and ever since then it seems like I never pass on the opportunity to see her live.

There is something about Smith’s ability to craft songs that seem to become instantly familiar—they can make  you feel safe no matter where you are or who you happen to be sharing the moment with.

Kiesza (AB) – R.A.P. Rifftop Tent

I have never experienced a show with more people packed inside a tent for an epic dance party than for Kiesza’s performance at Rifflandia (sorry Chromeo, but you cancelled your show). The photo pit alone became a mosh pit while we all fought for lens space. Kiesza’s brand of high-energy electro-pop and her signature dance moves amass fans by the thousands. It’s no wonder she’s gained a massive worldwide following. I can’t say enough good things about this year’s installment of BOW. The event blew my already high expectations out of the water. Hats off to Rifflandia, too. Wow! For such a young festival (this was only their seventh year), it left a lasting impression on me, for sure. Another huge round of applause goes out to all of the organizers, volunteers, performers, and anyone else who was involved with both BOW and Rifflandia.


2015 Western Canadian Music Award Winners:

Aboriginal Recording of the Year, presented by APTN: Tanya Tagaq – Animism (MB)

Blues Recording of the Year: The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer – A Real Fine Mess (BC)

Children’s Recording of the Year, presented by Bolen Books: *TIE* Fred Penner – Where In The World (MB) & Raffi – Love Bug (BC)

Classical Composition of the Year, presented by Canadian Music CentreCobalt – Jocelyn Morlock (BC)

Classical Recording of the YearYsaÿe Sonatas For Solo Violin – Karl Stobbe (MB)

Country Recording of the Year, presented by CCMA: Ridley Bent – Wildcard (MB)

Electronic/Dance Recording of the Year, presented by UnionElectronic: Kiesza – Hideaway (AB)

Francophone Recording of the Year, presented by Musicaction: Annette – Papillon Amiral (SK)

Independent Album of the Year, presented by Stingray Music: The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer – A Real Fine Mess (BC)

Instrumental Recording of the Year: Five Alarm Funk – Abandon Earth (BC)

Jazz Recording of the Year: Jill Barber – Fool’s Gold (BC)

Metal/HardMusic Recording of the Year: Shooting Guns – WolfCop Soundtrack (SK)

Pop Recording of the Year, presented by Rifflandia: BESTiE – No Bad Days (BC)

Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of the Year: Def3 – Wildlif3 (SK)

Rock Recording of the Year, presented by Radio Starmaker: 36? – where do we go from here? (AB)

Roots Duo/Group Recording of the Year: Twin Peaks – Trouble (BC)

Roots Solo Recording of the Year: Sarah MacDougall – Grand Canyon (YT)

Songwriter(s) of the Year, presented by SOCAN: Dan Mangan, Gordon Grdina, Kenton Loewen, John Walsh “Vessel” – Dan Mangan + Blacksmith From the Album Club Meds (BC)

Spiritual Recording of the Year: Tanya Tagaq – Animism (MB)

Urban Recording of the Year: Dawn Pemberton – Say Somethin’ (BC)

World Recording of the Year: Tanya Tagaq – Animism (MB)

2015 Western Canadian Music Industry Awards Winners:

Agency of the Year: Paquin Artists Agency (MB)

Album Design of the Year: Roberta Hansen – Steve Bell – Pilgrimage (MB)

Engineer of the Year, presented by the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology: Ryan Worsley/Echoplant Sound – Dear Rouge, Van Damsel, Greg Drummond, Little India, Derrival, Red Vienna, Windmills (BC) Independent Record Label of the Year: Mint Records (BC)

Live Music Venue of the Year, presented by Music Canada Live: West End Cultural Centre (MB)

Manager of the Year, presented by Music Managers Forum: Gilles Paquin – Paquin Entertainment Group (MB)

Producer of the Year, presented by Yigeda Lighting and ABT Innovations: Jesse Zubot – Tanya Tagaq – The Sands (BC)

Talent Buyer of the Year: Atomique Productions Ltd. (BC)

Video of the Year, presented by MuchFACT: Sage McBride and Dylan Siggers – “Sing to the Night Album” From The Album Sing to the Night By Shred Kelly (BC)

The 2015 Kevin Walters Industry Builder was awarded to BC’s Nettwerk Music Group (Terry McBride, Mark Jowett and Ric Arboit and Dan Fraser), and the Heritage Builder Award was presented to the incredibly dedicated John Shields, Senior Program Manager for The Q and The Zone @ 91.3 in Victoria.

More Photos:

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Tokyo Police Club – Rifflandia 2015

    Tokyo Police Club at the R.A.P Main Stage during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Provincial Archive – BreakOut West 2015

    The Provincial Archive play the Sunset Room in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • The Wet Secrets – BreakOut West 2015

    The Wet Secrets at Wood Hall in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Kiesza – Rifflandia 2015

    Kiesza with a stunning performance in the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia 2015 in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria with a dislocated knee. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria with a dislocated knee. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria with a dislocated knee. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Bend Sinister – BreakOut West 2015

    Bend Sinister rocks the Sunset Room in Victoria. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Samantha Savage Smith – BreakOut West 2015

    Samantha Savage Smith plays the Metro Theatre in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Samantha Savage Smith – BreakOut West 2015

    Samantha Savage Smith plays the Metro Theatre in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Samantha Savage Smith – BreakOut West 2015

    Samantha Savage Smith plays the Metro Theatre in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Samantha Savage Smith – BreakOut West 2015

    Samantha Savage Smith plays the Metro Theatre in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Samantha Savage Smith – BreakOut West 2015

    Samantha Savage Smith plays the Metro Theatre in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Samantha Savage Smith – BreakOut West 2015

    Samantha Savage Smith plays the Metro Theatre in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Samantha Savage Smith – BreakOut West 2015

    Samantha Savage Smith plays the Metro Theatre in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Samantha Savage Smith – BreakOut West 2015

    Samantha Savage Smith plays the Metro Theatre in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Samantha Savage Smith – BreakOut West 2015

    Samantha Savage Smith plays the Metro Theatre in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Luca Fogale – BreakOut West 2015

    Luca Fogale mesmerizing the audience inside the beautiful Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Luca Fogale – BreakOut West 2015

    Luca Fogale mesmerizing the audience inside the beautiful Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Luca Fogale – BreakOut West 2015

    Luca Fogale mesmerizing the audience inside the beautiful Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Luca Fogale – BreakOut West 2015

    Luca Fogale mesmerizing the audience inside the beautiful Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: BrandonWallis.

  • Iskwé – BreakOut West 2015

    Iskwé moves the crowd inside Fort Tectoria in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Iskwé – BreakOut West 2015

    Iskwé moves the crowd inside Fort Tectoria in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Iskwé – BreakOut West 2015

    Iskwé moves the crowd inside Fort Tectoria in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Iskwé – BreakOut West 2015

    Iskwé moves the crowd inside Fort Tectoria in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Iskwé – BreakOut West 2015

    Iskwé moves the crowd inside Fort Tectoria in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Iskwé – BreakOut West 2015

    Iskwé moves the crowd inside Fort Tectoria in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Iskwé – BreakOut West 2015

    Iskwé moves the crowd inside Fort Tectoria in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

  • Iskwé – BreakOut West 2015

    Iskwé moves the crowd inside Fort Tectoria in downtown Victoria during BreakOut West 2015. Credit: Brandon Wallis.

About the Author

Brandon Wallis

Brandon is the Director of Marketing, Communications and Visitor Experience and for the National Music Centre and Editor-in-Chief of Amplify.

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