A&E » Music

Two Acre Shaker hits its stride

The one-day music festival has an established site and eclectic lineup for its sixth installment



Pat McKinnon has a less strenuous option than the 3.86 km swim, 180 km bike ride and full marathon that make up the Ironman race, taking place in Whistler on Aug. 25.

It's called the Iron Llama and it involves cheering, partying and eating.

"If you attend the Red Bull Joy Ride, the Two Acre Shaker and then participate in the Pemberton Slow Food Cycle, you can call yourself an Iron Llama," he says.

A funked up Llama — complete with a unicorn horn, chain necklace and purple shades on the Two Acre Shaker website — is the mascot of the annual one-day Pemberton music festival, heading into its sixth year on Aug. 17. "It's (a challenge) for all the people out there who are trying to figure out what to do that weekend because it's action-packed," McKinnon, who founded the event with two friends, says. "You've got the biggest weekend of Crankworx and all these other things going on."

But the trek to Pemberton — more specifically, to the Lillooet Lake Rodeo Grounds, which organizers secured as a location for the second year — will be worth it. The roster of bands and DJs is particularly exciting this year, McKinnon says. "We're really, really stoked on our lineup this year. We had the benefit of having lots of lead-time knowing we had the site. We got on it early and we were able to secure the artists we wanted," he says.

That includes headliner Lyrics Born, a Bay-area rapper, JFB, a "turntablist extraordinaire" from the U.K., Victoria's Kytami, who blends electronic music with classical sounds, and Fort Knox Five, who have been honing their sound in the funk and break scene in their hometown of Washington, D.C. and beyond for the last decade.

There are also several Sea to Sky and B.C. acts on the list.

"It's the deepest lineup we've ever had," McKinnon says. "We're really excited about it and everyone I've talked to is pretty excited too."

Shows will kick off at noon with DJs spinning for a daytime dance party. The first band — Tonye Aganaba & The Foundation — hits the stage at 5:30 p.m. and the live music carries on until about 1 a.m. when the DJs will take over until the sun comes up around 5 a.m. "We have two stages adjacent to each other," McKinnon adds. "One stage is set up for live bands and one is for DJs. As one and finishes we kick in immediately to the adjacent stage. So there will be a DJ playing while the band is setting up. There will be a continuous stream of music."

This might have been the smoothest Two Acre Shaker for organizers in recent years. The event started back in 2008 as a backyard pre-party for friends attending the Pemberton Music Festival. (In case you forgot: that was a one-time, three-day event that drew hordes of music fans to the area to see huge names like Tom Petty and Jay Z.) When many of their friends said the party had been the highlight of their weekend, they decided to throw it again.

Last year, outgrowing the two-and-a-half acre backyard where it all started, (which accommodated around 1,000 people) they attempted to get permission from the Lil'wat Nation to hold the event on the rodeo site. They didn't receive official word until just a couple of months before the event and had to rush to put a lineup together. This year they were a little more prepared. "It was definitely a scramble for us," McKinnon says. "We grew a little bit (last year), but we saw the same numbers as the previous year, which I don't think is unreasonable when you change venues and the nature of the party like that. I think this year there will definitely be growth."

While the group has discussed holding the event over two days, like most music festivals do, they ultimately decided their format is the right style for an already busy Sea to Sky crowd. "Every year after the shaker is over people make that suggestion to us," McKinnon says. "In this corridor there are so many amazing festivals and events throughout the summer time the calendar just gets jammed packed. I think part of the hesitation to make it a bigger festival is there's just not a lot of time to get people to fit it into their summers anymore. To survive as an event in such a gifted corridor you have to set yourself apart."

Shuttles begin running from Pemberton at 6 p.m. Camping is also available on site. Tickets are currently $50, but increase to $60 when that first round runs out. Grab them (cash only) at Evolution in Whistler, Stuntwood in Squamish and Pemberton Bike Co. Visit twoacreshaker.com for more information.