Manifestation of a dream

Rifflandia V brings big names, personal triumphs and Grimace tattoos

Chris Vickers takes one in the tuches for Rifflandia TV.

A slender man donning horn-rimmed glasses, a Selleck-ian moustache and a sport coat approaches a tattoo bench at Wolf/Sheep Arthouse on Government Street and unzips.

“For 10 entire years, I’ve said I’d get Grimace, the McDonaldland character, tattooed on my buttock if anyone else would pay and today, on this monumental evening, it’s happening,” says Chris Vickers, the man boasting his lilly-white gams. “How do we start? I’ve never had a tattoo before.”

“Well we’re going to lie you down, put a stencil on your butt and just drill ‘er in there,” says the tattoo artist who will soon be tasked with shaving this man’s posterior in advance of the big moment.

“Just drill ‘er in,” Vickers says and his decade-long creative vision is made reality.

Vickers’ foray into getting getting inked is a highlight of Rifflandia TV’s Episode 10 and fits with the kind of mad collaboration behind Rifflandia – an event that after five years has evolved into so much more than a four-day music festival scattered across downtown venues.

“If people have crazy ideas, we ask them to pitch them to us and typically, we say yes,” said festival director Nick Blasko of Atomique Productions.

The zany preview webseries was born of one such unsolicited pitch from Chris Nohr and the team at thenumber creative in 2010. A day in Royal Athletic Park will reveal that it wasn’t the only pitch accepted.

On-site haircuts, 5,000 pairs of prismed glasses to enhance a laser light show with rainbows – Victoria-bred Blasko and the Atomique team have swung the park doors wide open.

“It’s pretty awesome to look at some of the relationships you’ve formed in a city like this and realize that the festival is just a manifestation of all of those relationships working together,” Blasko said. “To me that’s what’s so amazing about it. To be able to put something on with a group of people who are very dear to you, who you have a long history with is pretty amazing.”

Phillips Brewery’s limited edition Rifflandibrau 5 is in the beer garden, Artlandia Arts Festival is in full swing until Sept. 22 and this year CineVic is on board to host a tent of filmic delights at RAP.

And for audiences enticed solely by the music, which includes night stage performances Thursday through Sunday, the lineup stands alone. Headliners include The Flaming Lips, Cake, Mother Mother, Band of Skulls and Reggie Watts.

“Obviously we try to build and improve upon the experience every year and part of that is to bring in interesting bands, big bands, to Victoria that people want to see, and perhaps who haven’t been here before,” Blasko said. “We try to surprise people, but give people familiar stuff, too.”

When DJ Shadow takes the night stage in Market Square and plays Victoria for the first time, Blasko will bear witness to a manifestation of a dream, he says. Expect more dreams to come true next year.

“There are literally hundreds of other bands that we can and will go after,” he added.

Yet the spirit of the festival – which drew 6,500 attendees last year – is to discover things, Blasko added, not to stick to a must-see list.

“I encourage everyone to take a chance on something. If you haven’t heard of something, don’t rule it out. There are so many amazing people playing.”

Passes to night stages, RAP and the War Child Lounge range from $20 to $295. For more information on all things Rifflandia, or to view the full Grimace saga and other shenanigans on Rifflandia TV, visit

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