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The other side of LIVE at Squamish

Organizers focusing on the arts as well as the music



The line-up may be stacked but the second annual LIVE at Squamish festival is not just about the music. The weekend, say organizers, is designed to recreate what has become common in Europe, where all the arts hang out in one location for a few days.

"Music is an anchor for sure, but it's absolutely not the only thing that's going on," says festival executive producer Paul Runnals.

"It's part of our mission, if you like, to educate people that you come early because there's all this other stuff you want to discover. Don't just come at nine o'clock because you want to see Metric or Weezer. You're going to miss out on a whole bunch of really fun things if you do that."

He says they're trying to differentiate themselves from other festivals in North America by offering a strong arts and culture component. The festival grounds will feature two stages at two opposing ends. In the middle will be everything else going on: artisan's market, a barbershop, and a Ferris wheel. Everyone loves a Ferris wheel. Vancouver's Ayden Gallert will bring a caravan of artists to do live art and TOMS will be bringing blank shoes for festival goers to paint their own pair.

Alongside the market, Vancouver's Belmont Barbershop, run by Dustin Fishbook and Rich Hope, will provide a social club of sorts that will also feature intimate live performances by musicians.

"If you get your haircut at the barber, it's a great place to hang out, talk about music, talk about whatever, and sit around and listen to music," says festival co-producer Dave Fortune.

Next to the barbershop will be the Green Couch Stage, manned by Green Couch Productions, who run the appropriately-named Green Couch Sessions, a website that features musicians performing acoustic sets on a green couch. Musicians will be filming their own sessions, while the crowd can hang around and watch. Who exactly will take part in the sessions is being kept under wraps.

"We're going to keep it a surprise," Fortune says. "We want people to come check it out and see what's going on over there. I'm just going to leave it at that. There's going to be some real great surprises there."

A silent disco is also on the bill - a type of dance hall where people listen to music individually through headphones that is transmitted through an FM transmitter.

"We're going to take that on," Fortune says. "We're going to be programming everything from progressive trance, to funky house, to straight house to eighties hair rock and just have fun with it. You know a bunch of kids dancing around to no music, and then yelling and screaming out to Nirvana half way through it."

Organizers are expecting between 10,000 and 15,000 people to attend each day, as compared to the 7,000 people total who showed up last year.

Last year's festival, says Runnals, was pulled together rather late in the year and resulted in a relatively low turnout of Sea to Sky residents.

He expects more locals to turn out this year now that it's a known product with    stronger programming and a more aggressive marketing campaign.

"This year I think will be a more accurate representation of what the local support is, both in Whistler and in Squamish," he says.



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