Interstellar Rodeo 2016

A Mind-Blowing Weekend of Live Music in the Peg

Story by Michelle McChristie, Photos by Darren McChristie

There are few experiences more sublime than being inspired by live music simultaneously with thousands of strangers. Without exchanging a word with those standing or sitting around us, we are united in thought for a moment, a song, or even a performance.

The combination of the setting and lineup at Winnipeg’s Interstellar Rodeo likely contributed to the moments of inspiration provided by the musicians. The significance of the stunningly beautiful Canadian Museum for Human Rights as a backdrop and a site that has been a meeting place for thousands of years is likely not lost on many artists—it might even lead to more impassioned performances. It seemed that way throughout the weekend as host Sean McManus introduced a laundry list of diverse and premium acts.

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

There were no lulls or low points in this festival. Festival goers drank craft beer and wine that was creatively paired with musical acts, chowed down on everything from churros to walleye (a foodie’s delight), and watched children frolic in the sun (free admission for kids under 12). Satiated, they moved from their comfortable seats on the hills to stand on the lawn before the stage and groove to their favourites.

Headliners Serena Ryder, Wilco and Case/Lang/Viers were exceptional—each delivering the goods through intense performances…the kind of performance that makes a fan feel like they were treated to something special because there’s no way these musicians can be this good every time. Other standouts included The Strumbellas, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (both thankful for being flown-in on chartered flights after getting stranded in Denver), Fantastic Negrito, The Wet Secrets, Margo Price, Lee Fields & The Expressions, and Whitehorse.

But a telltale sign of a good festival is the ability for organizers, in this case Six Shooter Records, to put together a solid lineup that makes people fans of acts they’ve never heard. This was definitely the case for some people whose ears pricked up when the likes of Blond(e) Goth and Sam Outlaw took to the stage. And I overheard a few people, millennials and baby boomers, who hadn’t heard of Wilco or Skydiggers, so I’m sure they made some new fans too.

Interstellar Rodeo takes place each August in Edmonton and Winnipeg. Round three of the Winnipeg festival takes place at The Forks on August 18-20, 2017. Visit interstellarrodeo.com for details or connect with them via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – @iRodeoWpg