Last weekend, on September 7th to 9th, in the heart of Vancouver, BC, the brand new Skookum Festival made its debut and a name for itself. Eager to show the indie world what it’s all about, the festival boasted a thoughtfully curated spread of Music, Food, Art and After Dark events, a true Feast For the Senses. Held in the beautiful and iconic Stanley Park, and headlined by Florence + The Machine and The Killers, let’s take a look at what contributed to a solid weekend which served to help wrap up a long, smoky summer.

01. An Incredible Lineup – with Afterparties!
– For its first time, Skookum packed a huge punch this year with an impressive lineup of indie artists spanning the genres from rock to country. Aside from the big headliners, bands were joined by Canadian favourites Blue Rodeo, The Arkells and Metric. An incredible mix of synth-pop, hip-hop and electronic rounded out the stages with The Zolas, Mob Bounce and Delhi 2 Dublin just to name a few. At over 50 artists playing across 4 stages, there were some some tough “who to see” calls to make the most of the festival.

The After Dark events were a unique touch to the festival, showcasing DJ sets and performances by many Skookum artists at local venues in downtown Vancouver. Special guests to the thoughtfully curated events included The Funk Hunters, Jim Cuddy and, playing at the official closing afterparty Sunday night, Tom Middleton.

Arkells certainly proved to be the “People’s Champ”.

02. A Spotlight on Indigenous Music & Culture
– The festival name itself comes from Chinook Jargon of the Pacific Northwest and means brave, impressive and strong. An amazing collaboration between Skookum and the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations made it possible to hold this festival on their shared territories and give us all something beautiful to celebrate. This being said, Skookum featured some kick-ass Indigenous artists on this first-time lineup. Midnight Shine, Snotty Nose Rez Kids and Kelly Derrickson represented rock, hip-hop and country along with their unique cultures.

Saturday’s afterparty at The Imperial featured an all POC/Indigenous lineup where SNRZ and Delhi 2 Dublin were joined by Missy D, DJ Kookum and more. And if this wasn’t an amazing enough reason to head to Skookum last weekend, Buffy Sainte-Marie was also played a near-headline slot on Sunday night.

What we going to do with those “Snotty Nose Rez Kids”? Skoden and Beau Dick have a suggestion.

03. A Sustainable Effort & Being Kind to the Environment
– Vancouver is a beautiful place, as we all know. Stanley Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America and there is a whole lot of consideration that goes into keeping it clean and tidy for the masses, as well as treating our flora and fauna friends right. Skookum made it incredibly easy to make it down for the festivities by encouraging people to carpool with Evo, take transit and walk to the park. There was even a bike valet for two-wheeled commuters and plenty of bike rentals to get you in and out of the park.

Skookum also paired up with Oceanwise to make this a #plasticwise event where there was no single-use plastic bottles, bags or straws. The ocean thanks us and we thank Skookum for taking the initiative to give us the chance to do our part.

04. A Festival that Cares About Mental Health & Wellbeing
– Skookum held a contest several weeks leading up to the festival that gave local acts a shot at winning a spot on this year’s lineup. Pairing up with Music Heals, competing bands raised funds for the cause through “Covers for the Cause” – encouraging fans to make donations in exchange for requested cover videos. Music Heals supports those dealing with mental health issues, illness and rehabilitation through music therapy. This year’s winners Little Crow, an indie folk duo from Vancouver, won the coveted spot and earned their place on Friday’s line up. The band has a special connection with the cause to boot, having formed after music therapy brought music back into their lives.

Check out Little Crow’s cover of Wagon Wheel’s “Old Crow Medicine Show”.

05. Unbelievable Food & Libations
– Being new to the West Coast, it’s hard to know who the local favourites are. It is clear to see that Vancouver is a city passionate about food and it was amazing to see a plethora of cuisines offered at this year’s festival. From curated picnic baskets to long table dinners presented by some of Vancouver’s top chefs, there was every reason to treat yo’ self. Whether you grabbed a smoked salmon sandwich from The Kaboom Box or some salted caramel gelato from Fiasco Gelato, or cleansed your palette with a refreshing West Coast Pale Ale from Postmark Brewing, or even a hand-crafted cocktail from The Liberty Distillery, the treats were flowing.