Rock the Shores succeeds despite storm delay
It was an Island show that showed the Island might just have found a new venue for large scale events.
The 12,000 people who packed in the lower fields at the West Shore Parks and Recreation complex were treated to an evening of great music, wild weather and top-notch planning by concert organizers Atomique Productions.
The evening started slow, with a few thousand people and plenty of room for couples to lounge on blankets while listening to Victoria alt rockers Jets Overhead.
The well travelled band’s set included the hit single Heading for Nowhere.
Fellow Victorians Current Swell followed up with their modern take on roots rock that got the crowd up and dancing as the day’s heat hit it peak.
A dark cloud started its crawl across the West Shore sky as the Sam Roberts Band picked up the pace. The crowd pressed toward the stage, forcing those who had been on blankets to stand or retreat further back.
A very light rain helped keep the packed crowd cool. But then the first of a series of lightning strikes split the sky, forcing organizers to pull the plug on Roberts’ set.
The wind whipped up the low lying clouds as the sun set over the makeshift stadium. As night fell, the crowd patiently waited out the storm.
At one point, technicians took down lighting and sound equipment, causing some concern that the show might not go on
And then just as chants of “We want The Hip” started to carry a little louder through the restive crowd, the crew returned to restore the stage.
The large flat screens that flanked the stage were once again raised by cherry pickers and within minutes a cheer exploded as Gord Downie stumbled up to the microphone in his trademarked shuffle.
The Tragically Hip quickly won back the crowd that was never really lost, playing hits from their two decades worth of material.
The show, which had been scheduled to shut down precisely at 11 p.m., carried on past curfew as The Hip through themselves into a three song encore.
Amazingly, despite dire predictions before the concert, the crowd was able to quickly disperse through several exits. There was little congestion on West Shore roads as many people apparently heeded the call to find alternative ways to travel to the show.