1:25 PM: I’m fucking freezing. It’s 8°C but my fingers are still stiff. Modern Space is rocking out on stage. I wander around the grounds for a few minutes and immediately start shivering. Despite the chilly weather, tons of Edmontonians (largely of the white Millennial and Gen Z variety) have turned out to the alt music festival. I step into the throng gathered in front of the stage and am soon closed in by a row of other festival-goers.
1:46 PM: “The Lumineers don’t even have any fans,” muse two girls standing behind me. “I mean, I feel like they just have people who know them. I can’t even name anyone in that band — it’s just, like, hey, it’s the Lumineers! They did that Ophelia song! Ha…ha…ha.”
2:02 PM: Modern Space frontman Sean Watson Graham tosses his sunglasses to a fan after the band’s set.
2:34 PM: Zella Day, in a swirl of lace tights and swirly black dress panels, premieres a gorgeous new song, “Man On the Moon.”
3:00 PM: At this point, about a dozen tall white guys rush the stage and I’m stuck looking at the backs of their heads for most of Banners’s set. The trials and tribulations of being part of the #ShortSquad.
3:01 PM: I’m hearing a lot of mixed opinions about The Lumineers. “We’ve gotta stay in the crowd until The Lumineers play!” cries a nearby girl.
3:17 PM: Well, shit. I’m a few rows from the front and about 15 from the back of the crowd, so I guess I’m in it for the long haul now: no bathroom breaks and no food. Challenge accepted. On the plus side, I’m no longer freezing.
3:22 PM: 25% of the crowd is jumping and dancing wildly while the remaining 75% nod their heads to the beat. Weird mix.
3:28 PM: Who smells weed? I smell weed. Can’t tell where it’s coming from, but it’s potent.
3:36 PM: The jumpers are back at it again. The girls to my right jeer at them.
3:51 PM: People think Banners’s drummer looks like Vance Joy. It’s debatable.
3:57 PM: Here comes the sun! And, fittingly, Banners’s “Shine a Light.”
4:12 PM: It was mildly comfortable before in the mosh pit, but it’s getting more and more packed as the sets go by. I’m a little scared thinking about what it’ll be like once the later bands hit the stage. Dunno how much longer I can keep this live blogging thing up before I a) can no longer move in this crowd or b) have my phone bumped out of my hands at some point during a set.
4:27 PM: Two incredibly pushy people around my age force their way through the crowd trying to deliver pizza to one of their friends near the foot of the stage, claiming the packed audience members in front of them are “assholes” for not moving. Sigh.
5:09 PM: The smell of weed, once a wafting scent, is now constant and inescapable, much like the crowd I’m surrounded by.
6:16 PM: Jake Bugg was great. And now that his set is over, the crowd is pushing even more anxiously on to Arkells. My arms are getting crushed.
6:17 PM: I refuse to die this way.
6:32 PM: Arkells takes the stage. It’s lit!
7:48 PM: Vance Joy is up in T-minus one minute. One fan screams, “Who’s here for Vance Joy and who’s here for The Lumineers? If you let me to the front for Vance Joy, I’ll totally move out of your way for The Lumineers!” There are no takers.
9:32 PM: The long-awaited Lumineers kick off their set and are met with cheers of adoration — by this time, anyone who’s not a fan has dipped out.
10:35 PM: I crowd surf my way out of the mosh pit. With the festival winding up, the scent of weed permeating every possible crevice, and The Lumineers jamming it out onstage, fellow concert-goers are kind enough to help me make my way to the security guards at the front of the pit, who pull me to freedom. And so concludes Sonic Boom 2016.