Metchosin’s Jesse Roper rocks out at last year’s Rock the Shores. He returns for another performance on July 19.

Rock the Shores aims to create an intimate weekend retreat

Metchosin's own Jesse Roper returns for a second year

The goal wasn’t to create a stadium concert, but to create an event that felt like an intimate weekend retreat with a number of big-name artists.

That’s the dream that sparked Rock the Shores, a weekend-long festival in Colwood, returning for its fourth year on July 18 and 19.

Since its inception in 2012, Rock the Shores, produced by Atomique Productions Ltd., has been transforming the lower fields of the Juan De Fuca Recreation Centre into a concert venue with such headliners as The Tragically Hip, Sam Roberts, Tom Cochrane, Billy Talent, and Our Lady Peace. The festival has grown each year from a one-day concert to a three-day event. But noticeably this year, the third day is absent from the line-up.

“Two days are easier for people to commit to and digest,” said Nick Blasko, festival director. “Three days is a big commitment.”

The main reason for shifting back to a two-day festival was talent availability, he said. “We wanted to have the best possible line-up we could get.”

It’s a problem many promoters are having, with the surge in popularity and changing dynamics of summer music festivals over the past 20 years. Heightened demand is causing big names to get offers to play all over the world, Blasko said, adding they didn’t want to stretch their line-up if they didn’t have the big names to fill it.

This year’s line-up includes daily headliners The Black Keys and Jane’s Addiction, and such acts as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Sheepdogs, TV on the Radio, Father John Misty and Metchosin’s Jesse Roper.

The festival has a new layout, built around new liquor laws and to optimize green space. Last year saw the festival forgo the designated beer garden area and instead create an open site for those wishing to partake in a few libations – they wore wristbands identifying them as 19 or over.

“We were the first large-scale music festival to be granted an open site liquor license,” Blasko said, noting that last year they were the pilot for the region.

This year organizers wanted to take full advantage of the green space in the open site, he said. Portable washrooms will be placed on the perimeters and food stations will be located on the concrete areas. A few other changes are planned for the festival entrances and the VIP area, Blasko said, to help improve the flow and atmosphere.

Roper – the “pride of the West Shore,” as Blasko calls him – is returning for a second year, playing on Sunday.

“The response was great,” Roper, 33, said about his first Rock the Shores appearance; “people were ready to rock.”

He returned to live in Metchosin in February and is quite excited to be back where he grew up. The blues and rock guitarist is also energized about sharing a stage with such big names like those headlining the festival. “I’m going to freak out up there,” he said. “It’s the Stanley Cup of music for me.”

Also in his mind is the Western Canadian Music Awards nomination for blues album of the year. While he’s trying not to think about that too much and get his hopes up, he admires the other artists he is up against for the award.

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