Denim on the Diamond 2022
Photo credit and copyrights to Shane Collins & Gonzo Okanagan
As the summer began its countdown, thousands of concert goers poured into King Stadium this past Labour Day weekend to see a variety of music at the Denim on the Diamond music festival.
The weather wasn’t too hot nor too cold for the festivities and when I arrived on Friday afternoon, BLONDE DIAMOND had just taken the stage and when I saw everyone dressed up in their wild west fashions, tropical t-shirts and their short shorts, I just knew it was going to be a great show. The sound was amazing. So was the lighting. I had a feeling I would get some epic photos of this event.
You’d have to have a tag on your toe; be stone cold dead not to feel the electric energy walking into this place. The backdrop is beautiful. Kelowna’s skyline was draped in the setting sun beyond the large stage set up at home plate of the ballfield.
A column of smoke from forest fires blanketed the horizon, turning the light into something sinister.
I’ve been to a lot of these kinds of events and I’ll say this now, I was greeted by some of the friendliest personnel I’ve ever encountered. You walk into this baseball stadium and it’s clearly the perfect venue for a two day music festival. Lead vocalist, Alexis Young, can really wail. She bent back, arching and screaming her songs into her mic. That kind of energy got the crowd up right away. When Blonde Diamond was finished, indigenous dancers were brought up on stage for a ceremonial dance. Writing this article, I couldn’t find their names but It was a beautiful sight and the two of them danced to A TRIBE CALLED RED, one of my personal favorite indigenous bands.
DELANEY JANE took the stage next. I had never heard of her before and when she began, she brought the rest of the crowd up to the stage and the show really started moving. Fun, light, bouncy electro pop beats, radiant, electric blue hair and a smile I’m still crushing on. I may have never heard of her before her performance but I assure you, afterwards, getting to meet her and have a photo with her… I promise you I’ll never forget her.
THE BLUE STONES followed Delaney and absolutely melted our faces with one of the best performances I’ve seen all year. That’s a lot of music being generated by two people. The audience had gathered into one, festering, pulsing organism by now. Back and forth, drummer Justin Tessier and guitarist/lead vocalist Tarek Jafar bounced off one another, exploding with hypnotic force.
At the end of the night, like a feather falling from a great height, MATT MAESON took the stage to a deafening roar from his fans. He serenaded the crowd with his hit ‘Hallucinogenics’.
I’ve never seen such emotion pouring out of one man and his guitar before. Seriously, there were people losing their fucking minds at the front. Some of them were bawling, weeping in a snotty mess. I was snapping photos in the media pit and I was amazed at how I was even getting a little emotional by his songs lyrics and tales of hardship.
At first I didn’t understand why you’d follow the blood pumping velocity of the previous performers with acoustic, down tempo songs, but when the show was over, people weren’t amped up and looking for a fight.
For many I spoke to, they seemed calm and tranquil and from a safety standpoint, maybe that was a strategic move. I was also really impressed that they had a tent for testing any drugs attendees might want to partake in. No judgment. This is a music festival after all. People are gonna party. I say bravo for having an area to have those drugs tested in case they’re tainted.
Sadly I missed a portion of the show on Saturday. The beach was just too nice. MICHAEL DANIELS, BOY GOLDEN and JODIE B with MANTEASAH started things off under the hot sun.
However, I did roll back in for COLEMAN HELL and this guy, dressed in his red one- piece was up there jumping to his catchy beats and he already had hundreds of people dancing and kicking up dust. Then the country music really took off.
TEBEY took the stage and showed some serious showmanship from this crew. I love seeing bands work the whole stage and really get into their instruments. These guys would jump all over the stage, ripping their guitars and bass side to side. It reminded me of a busy kitchen and having to watch where you’re going when making a move. I really enjoyed the vibe they were putting out, even though country music has never been a go to. Out here where everyone is singing and dancing, it’s a great time to be had regardless of whatever kind of music you might be into.
Then came the girl I was really excited to see. JJ WILDE. I’ve adored her and her sound for a long time and there she was, right in front of me. What a gorgeous woman. Her band jumps in the air and slithers along the floor of the stage. When you’re in that media pit up front you get the closest vantage from anywhere else in the whole stadium.
I was simply smitten and mesmerized by her and her band’s performance. When she launched off the drums I captured her in mid flight. It’s one of my favourite photos from the whole show and I took over two thousand fucking photos.
Finally, at the end of it all, THE REKLAWS stepped on stage and I tightened up my boots and strapped in for the festival’s conclusion. What an absolute blast it was watching this brother- sister duo. So many people were singing the lyrics back to the stage. They had beer bottle water pistols. They brought out a cooler full of beer, hooked cans of beer on the lines of fishing rods and went fishing with their fans. Now THAT’S entertainment.
After a while, I packed up and I went backstage. That’s when they asked everyone to turn their phones on and light up the night. What a sight. I just sat there, transfixed on the moment. It’s a finale I’ll never forget.
All in all I was beyond impressed with this experience and I’m grateful for Denim on the Diamond and for Gonzo to have me there. I have never seen an event so well put together before and in my opinion, I really felt like the needs of us in attendance were the priority, not just our wallets.
DJ INVIZIBLE and UR GIRL MEEMS were brilliant at keeping the crowd dancing between acts. With lots of local food options and beer gardens, THICK AS THIEVES clearly have the right recipe for success when it comes to putting on a memorable festival.
That’s 3 for 3. ALTITUNES, ISLAND TIME and now DENIM ON THE DIAMOND. Clearly, they’re doing something right.
To borrow from the movie, field of dreams, “If you build it. They will come.” And I will come running should they host another festival.
Well done and bravo to everyone who took part. I hope to see you there next year because I’ll be ready, wearing my denim out there on the diamond.