Uptown Live sizzles in summer heat

Rykka performs at Sunday
Rykka performs at Sunday's Uptown Live music festival in New Westminster.
— image credit: PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Organizer Douglas Smith wanted to ensure better weather for the third annual Uptown Live music festival so it was moved to August. He got that Sunday as hot sunshine blazed down on the 14 acts playing three stages and their thousands of fans.

But with the move of the festival to its own standalone date away from its former association with the conclusion of the Hyack International Parade in May, Smith also got a very short timeline to pull the musicians, food trucks, vendors and other entertainers together. He also faced a whole lot of competition on one of the busiest weekends of the summer in Metro Vancouver.

Not the least of which came from the massive Squamish Music Festival, which not only drew some of the bands Smith hoped to secure for his show, but also strained his access to set-up crews and food trucks. Let alone the attention of music fans.

Still, Smith said he had plenty to be pleased about.

The crowds were similar to the festival’s previous two incarnations, he said. But they’re now coming from all over the Lower Mainland.

“We’ve nurtured this event for three years and I think it’s evolved to the point where it’s now in the consciousness throughout the entire Lower Mainland,” said Smith, who counted fans from places like North Vancouver, Coquitlam and even Chilliwack. “It’s a regional event.”

One that’s also hitting the radar of local bands looking to break out.

Smith said the festival’s ongoing mission to showcase some of the best independent bands on the local music scene has made it a red letter date on their gig calendars.

“The event has stayed loyal to its roots,” said Smith. “It’s all about the music. The bands just love it.”

That bodes well for the future of Uptown Live, said Smith.

He’ll debrief with the City of New Westminster and the Uptown BIA in coming weeks to cement partnerships so planning for next year’s event can begin sooner. They’ll also look at the date and timeframe of the festival to try to overcome some of the hurdles it faced this year.

Smith said the biggest accomplishment of this year’s festival is that it showed it could stand on its own, without the built-in crowd that hung around after the Hyack parade in its first two years.

“Going to the summer was absolutely the way to go,” said Smith. “There was some benefit of capitalizing on the audience, but an event takes on a life of its own.”


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