On Tuesday I attended the Victoria Fringe Festival’s Block Party in Centennial Square. It’s a free concert to kick off Intrepid Theatre’s yearly festival. The last couple years they held the party across the street in the middle of Broad Street, but this year I really think the BC government’s cuts to Arts funding really hurt this event.

First of all, they obviously couldn’t afford to close off the street so the venue was moved to the public square. Second, they seemed to go really low budget on the stage setup. Previous years had a full stage and professional speaker system. This year had two P.A. speakers.  It just felt cheap and that’s a shame because the talent that performed was top notch.  Third, for a theatre group you would remember lighting.  I’ll explain why in a minute.

The show started at 7pm with Jean-Paul Maurice doing a solo, mostly acoustic, set with songs from his new solo album and music from his band ‘Maurice’. The highlight of the set was his performance of ‘All 4 Nothing Now’ that was accompanied by Acres of Lions and Vince Vaccaro.  That much good local talent on one stage at the same time is a sight to behold.

Acres of Lions was up next. They started their set with a new song and filled out the rest of their short set with favourites from their previous albums. I think I’ll check them out at Rifflandia next month to see them in a club setting rather than an all-ages event.  They’re a band to see with good lights and speakers.

The evening was headlined by Kelowna’s We Are The City. The band is tight musically, but I honestly don’t know what to think when I hear their music. They’re good, but they feel a little to “indie” for my particular taste. Their stage presence is fun though. Their banter between songs is definitely enjoyable.  It’s unfortunate that when they started their set around 8:40, it was getting dark and other than street lights around the square, there were was no lighting. After about three songs someone plugged in some work lights… That’s right work lights… The ones with the protective cage… The lights were put on the ground and pointed up towards the middle of the stage. So basically the guitarist was getting blasted with light while the lead singer/keyboardplayer and the drummer were mostly in shadow. It felt very low budget.

Overall the talent of the musicians outweighed the weak production values and the crowd enjoyed the show. Hopefully the event regains proper funding in the future.

Here’s video from the Block Party. more can be viewed at our youtube page http://www.youtube.com/magmazing

Jean-Paul Maurice- All 4 Nothing Now

Acres of Lions- Let’s Get Sentimental

We Are The City- April