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Rockfest 2016 Day Two



After everyone stumbles back to their tents, Air bnb’s or hotels to get some sleep and recharge a bit, it’s time for day two. Of course, not without the help some good ol’ poutine and egg breakfasts, and maybe a couple Gatorades. 

This year’s second day may not have been quite as invigorating and intense as the first, but with the heat being upwards of 30 degrees throughout the day, the rest was needed- not to say that it didn’t compare sonically and energetically. Although the day was tamer, the energy in the crowd didn’t change for a second, nor that Montebello vibe that you can’t really put into words. Festival-goers lined the streets as early as 8 a.m. in search of food and drinks, listening to distant sound checks in anticipation of the day to come. After breakfasts and recoveries were had, the festival grounds once again flooded with hundreds of thousands of music lovers.

Guttermouth and Streetlight Manifesto opened up the Budweiser stage. Streetlight’s energy powered vocals, upbeat horns, and all around feel-good ska music got the crowd fueled up, throwing their legs around and dancing their hearts out. The seven-piece band hit the same stage two years ago and came back with the same big smiles, wicked attitudes and a performance full of fun.


While the day was untouched by disappointing performances, the Budweiser stage did have its own letdowns to offer. Lamb of God always puts on an unreal performance, but the headbanging came to a 10-15 minute halt about midway through their first song. The stage’s technical difficulties did the opposite of losing the crowd’s attention though, and it had Randy Blythe even more amped up after the issues were resolved. Triumphantly going straight back into their set, Lamb of God was without a dull moment. Shaking speakers, crowd surfers galore, a mosh pit not to be reckoned with, and Blythe’s dreads going every which way. Being one of the only metal acts this year, with a name to match their status in the metal community, Lamb of God had fists pumping front to back, left to right, with a crowd packed up almost all the way back to the festival entrance. Blythe is a LambHandphenomenal performer, with a stage presence that continuously blows my mind. Beginning to end, the seasoned metal rockers had the crowd completely involved and did not let their set run short because of the technical difficulties. Fans were actually graced with an extended set, seemingly in protest of the machines robbing them of the beginnings of their performance.

Ice Cube was a highly anticipated name this year, and while it was an absolute nightmare to try and get an even relatively nice picture of the set, it was epic to see Ice Cube live. Smoke clouding the air and lyrics being chanted aloud, it would not come as a surprise to see his name reoccur in years to come.

In the three years that I’ve been attending Rockfest, not once have I heard the festival tell the crowd to calm down. Limp Bizkit has been around for 20 plus years, but they still have such a strong following that even the security guards were getting themselves extra prepared for the show. It was so packed that people were lined up behind the fences of the entrance gates trying to get a view of
the stage. Fred Durst has quite the distinct look to him, even some photographers were flinching as he threw water bottles to the crowd. Durst threw himself around the stage, toured left to right across the front row, and went into the crowd a few times to give the fans an up close and personal performance. At one point Durst was actually atop the crowd, held up by screaming fans.


Headlining such an enthralling festival with so much energy and so many anticipated acts is a large spot to fill. While the organizers have a lot to do with ever so perfectly scheduling Rise Against as the headlining act on closing night, the band filled the slot in a way that could not have been foreseen.

Through weathered voices and tired fists, the size of the crowd for Rise Against did not simmer. Their message is clear, their music is beloved, and the only real way to describe their stage presence with the utmost diligence is to say that it’s almost a live version of when you spend that moment alone, with your headphones in, or in your car, searching to find bliss in their music.

Rockfest 2016 was somewhat of a reflection, or even a live reminiscence of the past 20 years. The outcome of which tremendously represented belief, courage, standing together, and remaining strong through the fiercest struggles.


The BFG – Movie Review


The BFG – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

Around the turn of the current millennium, Steven Spielberg was the top contender to direct the first Harry Potter film. Although he turned that down, some glimpses of what that pairing of director and source material might have entailed appear in The BFG. Upon tackling Roald Dahl’s story of the titular Big Friendly Giant befriending a young orphan girl, Spielberg has been smart to keep the British wit and imagination intact. Despite the size of its central figure, this is a small film in many respects, which adds a lot to its charm and whimsy. As driven by the chemistry between Sophie and the BFG, this is yet another example of Spielberg knowing how to tell childhood stories.

From the first shots of Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography giving London a glowing appearance, it’s already obvious the sort of Spielberg we’re going to be treated to. This is the Spielberg of E.T. and Hook and that magic is consistent all through The BFG. With the swooping camera and Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg’s production design aiding him, he takes us to Giant Country and turns it into a believable world one would want to explore. This BFG is a grandfatherly type with grand intentions and a respect for children. In a way, he mirrors both Dahl and Spielberg’s view that the young are the ones who find light out of the world’s darkness. Mark Rylance’s gentle performance comes through in the motion-capture marvelously. With both The BFG and The Adventures of Tintin, Spielberg has proven the most understanding of how to utilise the technology.

Making her feature film debut, Ruby Barnhill gives an exceptional performance, providing Sophie with a confidence and a curiousity. She helps make the growing friendship between her and the BFG believable. Steven Spielberg has always had a knack for finding promising child actors and Barnhill is his latest discovery sure to have a lengthy career. The later scenes she shares with the Queen, played with royal delight by Penelope Wilton, are some of the funnier and wittier scenes Spielberg has directed in his career. They are also an example of Spielberg and late screenwriter Melissa Mathison not tampering with the material. Most Dahl adaptations, even the better ones, tend to Americanize his stories and The BFG prefers to celebrate its British heritage rather than try and modify it for an international audience.

There are portions of The BFG that feel a little slow, but nonetheless work as character moments necessary in developing the story. The bigger giants are fairly standard evil villains, but that’s merely continuing their characterization in the book. Them wrecking the BFG’s home leads to one of the film’s highlights, featuring an unbroken shot as Sophie finds clever ways to hide from the child eaters. It’s those scenes of whimsy that show Spielberg’s incredible hand at directing these sorts of tales. He also does a remarkable job with atmosphere and contrasting the streets of London with Giant Country. The decision to keep the setting in the 1980s is smart, as it presents a timeless feel and shows him truly returning to the Amblin films so cherished by many of a certain generation. John Williams’s score ends up being the most derivative element of The BFG, as he appears to pluck cues directly from his previous work in Harry Potter and Hook.

It’s remarkable it has taken this long for Steven Spielberg to direct either a Roald Dahl adaptation or a film under the Walt Disney banner. These three imaginative forces coming together give you precisely the sort of magical and charming adventure one would expect. Spielberg is a master of his craft, able to bounce between genres and audiences and create something special almost every time. He knows how to absorb the viewer into a time and a place and The BFG is filled with wonder and heart. The film also works as a fitting book end to Melissa Mathison’s career, with both The BFG and E.T. being characters who manage to tap into a child’s life and improve it with their very presence. The BFG is a worthy family film that does not deserve to be lost in the summer sweepstakes.


Stefan Ellison

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