Pemberton music fest brings Coldplay, Jay-Z to B.C.
Amy O’Brian, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, March 13, 2008
The quiet town of Pemberton will be a lot louder for three days this summer when a major music festival lands in the Pemberton Valley, bringing with it bands such as Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails and the Tragically Hip.
More than 50 musical acts are scheduled to appear at the expansive outdoor venue, attracting about 40,000 people to the bucolic mountain town north of Whistler. Jay-Z, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Black Mountain, Death Cab for Cutie and My Morning Jacket are also listed in the impressive lineup.
Inspired by the success of other large-scale outdoor music festivals such as England’s Glastonbury Festival, California’s Coachella Festival, and Washington’s Sasquatch Music Festival, the Pemberton Festival will have on-site camping, food, a farmer’s market, attractions for kids, a medical clinic and more. The site is located just off Highway 99, close to central Pemberton.
Three-day passes go on sale March 28 at 10 a.m. and will cost $239.50. No single-day passes will be available. The festival will take place July 25, 26 and 27.
News of the festival was leaked today by Billboard.com, a music industry website. The festival was supposed to be announced this morning by selected radio stations.
Shane Bourbonnais, president of concert production company Live Nation, spoke to The Vancouver Sun this afternoon from Pemberton, where he was preparing to meet with residents and local officials later in the day to discuss the festival.
Bourbonnais said he first approached Pemberton Village officials and the community last October to propose the idea of the major festival.
“The people of Pemberton have opened up their arms and welcomed us right from the beginning, which makes it a lot easier to put on an event like us,” he said.
“The setting is second to none and with the proximity to Whistler and the new highway, there are so many things going for Pemberton right now.”
Coldplay – a British band that has sold more than 30 million albums – is releasing a new album in May, but Pemberton is the only festival they will play at this summer, Bourbonnais said.
Attracting bands to the festival – once organizers had been given the go-ahead by RCMP, transportation authorities, health authorities and others – was fairly easy, he added.
“One of the great things about this festival site is, it’s incredibly beautiful. I don’t think there’s a festival site that can compare to this one. You’re at the base of Mount Currie, you’re 25 minutes from world-class Whistler,” he said.
“Festivals are becoming very popular and bands really like to play festivals because there are great audiences and there’s great camaraderie among the bands.
“You start to get a couple of bands and then next thing you know, another band hears about it, and another band hears about it and instead of us making the calls, they’re starting to call us.”
It helped, of course, the Live Nation has a good track record in this region and that Bourbonnais has been working with Coldplay since the band was playing the Commodore.
Bourbonnais said some of the bands are planning vacations around the festival and he hopes festival-goers will also take advantage of the outdoor activities available in the region.
Live Nation is dedicated to making this a green festival, meaning those who carpool with four or more people will get free parking, and hydro-electric energy will be the main power source. Local farmers will benefit from the event through the farmers market and an effort will be made by the festival to serve local produce wherever possible.
About 20,000 tent campers can be accommodated on the 360-acre site and there will also be an RV park. For those who prefer to have a roof over their head and a bed under their back, there are plenty of hotel and motel rooms in the village of Pemberton and down the highway in Whistler.
Bourbonnais said he hopes to make the festival an annual event and added there is room for growth in the future. About 37,000 people at this summer’s festival will be ticket-holders, while the remaining 3,000 will be volunteers and support workers, but that will be just 60 to 70 per cent of the festival’s allowed capacity.
To compare numbers, capacity at the Coachella Festival is about 60,000. Capacity at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Festival is about 70,000, and capacity at the Sasquatch Festival in the Gorge is about 20,000.
For the full festival lineup and information on buying tickets, go to www.pembertonfestival.com.