B.C. boasts a home to some of the most diverse music and art festivals in the world. Both Hamza Hasan and I, Anton Dixon, attended the Bass Coast Music and Arts Festival — an independent international exhibition of electronic music and art situated outside the City of Merritt in the stunning Nicola Valley.
This summer marked the festival’s ten-year anniversary, taking place from July 6 to 9.
Having attended several music festivals between us, we thought we had seen it all. We wanted to get a true experience of Bass Coast and what it meant to the people and local culture.
As I left China and headed to YVR to meet Hamza, I felt I had the gist of what to expect and was woefully wrong. After inevitable travel delays and arriving one day later than planned, we eventually arrived at BC10!
This idyllic location provides a truly unique backdrop and sense of seclusion which only adds to the beauty of this festival. As we drove through the forest at the crook of Coldwater River, the area felt unassuming and calm, unlike any festival I have attended before.
Once we arrived we collected our media passes, pitched our tents, grabbed our equipment and headed out into the unknown.
As we entered the main festival area there was an immediate acceptance, a welcoming as if we had returned home. Smiles, intrigue and human nature were in abundance, right from the start it just felt right.
As we got deeper into the forest we were exposed to what can only be described as an audio-visual playground. From giant mushrooms and spaceships, to metallic futuristic cats and an old-school telephone that invited you to indulge in the most random conversations. Scattered amongst this meticulously and mindfully curated haven lay an array of local vendors and talents so diverse, interaction is a necessity.
Education and exercise are also a big part of the festival, with holistic workshops and seminars to group yoga and roller skating, Bass Coast caters to both the inner child and outer adult.
“Due to it being a central location in B.C., Merritt has become home for many festivals, such as Bass Coast, the Rockin River country festival and most recent, Motion Notion,” said Will George, TRU alumni and manager of Economic Development and Tourism for the City of Merritt. “They all moved from other locations to come to Merritt because it is a central location and we are trying to attract more festivals.”
After we navigated and conversed our way through this utopia, we checked out the other side of this festival, the music!
Organizers said that “the stages are set up in a way to evolve musically over the course of the festival catering for all,” and this couldn’t have been truer. The four stages were Main Stage, Slay Bay, Radio Stage and Cantina Stage, each one diverse and brilliantly curated boasting sound design by the award-winning PK Sound. With nothing left to do but put our earplugs in and let the music guide us, we set off on a beautiful musical journey.
Whether we were jamming out in Cantina, or dancing until the sun rose over the beautifully designed canopy of Slay Bay, there really was something for everyone. Unlike other festivals I have attended there was never a pretence, or way to act, self expression in its truest form was on display. The collective positive energy was so contagious you had no choice but to surrender. This natural euphoria was in abundance and it was very easy to see why people love this festival.
When we first arrived we spoke to people about why they keep returning to Bass Coast year after year. The general consensus was the community, the people and the vibe. Seldom was it the music alone. At first I wanted to push for different reasons and answers, but by the end it all made sense.
From the outside, Bass Coast cannot be understood and the word “festival” doesn’t do justice for everything that Bass Coast encompasses. Bass Coast is an achieved ideal which on paper shouldn’t work, but through thoughtfulness, planning, hardwork and love, it exceeded all expectations. We were so fortunate to be able to experience this magical gathering of beautiful souls, Bass Coast 10, thank you!
“Bass Coast Festival is an independent international exhibition of electronic music and art. Founded in 2009 by Andrea Graham and Liz Thomson, the artist owned and operated event is a distinguished platform for Canadian artists and a destination for innovative international talent,” reads the festival’s website.
All photos by Hamza Hasan.