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On the Bass Coast

Inaugural underground arts festival features impressive roster of music, workshops

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In less than two weeks, the Squamish Valley Road will pulse with activity and excitement, and echo with reverb from some serious musical entertainment, all part of the first Bass Coast Project.

The inaugural three-day festival, which starts Friday, July 24 and wraps up at noon on Sunday, July 26, has recently been the subject of criticism by some residents who are concerned that the noise from the event will be disruptive. But organizers Andrea Graham, Liz Thomson, and Andrea Helleman Oakden have already secured the blessings (and necessary permits) from local authorities, after consultations with neighbours, RCMP, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, Agricultural Land Commission, Vancouver Coastal Health, and a security company.

"We're creating systems to ensure all aspects of public safety and health are covered in the permitting process," Thomson explained. "In addition to what the permits require, we have taken steps over the last six months, from open houses to personal visits, to educate residents about the festival and worked with them to address their concerns. Some steps we have taken include sound level testing and speaker direction research, RCMP involvement, peace keeper involvement, search and rescue walkthrough, road flagging, traffic control, informative signage and extensive safety and security measures, just to name a few."

Generally speaking, however, the grassroots event, which is licensed for up to 1,500 attendees, has received a warm response from the community.

"Once people learn what our vision is, they are supportive," Graham said. "During our planning process, we have met with a lot of different groups and people involved in the Squamish community. It has been a great opportunity to get to know our hometown better."

So far, the women are very pleased with how their vision and event is coming together.

"The support from everyone involved has been incredible!" said Graham. "We have people contacting us from all corners of B.C. to buy tickets, to volunteer and to participate."

The musical acts have been booked, workshops are planned and scheduled and lots of tickets have already been sold. Now, Graham, Thomson and Helleman Oakden are on-site, building the main stages and other physical projects.

Bass Coast was designed to celebrate all underground arts, offering up a range of music, including hip hop, reggae, dubstep, electro and breaks on two main stages, alongside live vocals and beatboxing. Key headliners include Fort Knox Five in an incredibly, dynamic live performance with two members on four turntables; An-ten-nae of San Francisco dishing out his unique mid-tempo crunk; Hawaii's Bluetech; and the Sea to Sky's very own Mat The Alien doing what he does best on the turntables.

In addition to the musical entertainment, the grounds will play host to an array of workshops, which take place during the day and evening, and include everything from organic gardening and science to yoga, a fashion show, and girls-only mud wrestling. They're also planning a music video contest, a unique, interactive competition that will see the top entries going head-to-head alongside a live DJ and VJ mix.

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