Photo credit: Ash Tanasiychuk

Earlier this month, our friend Robbie Slade headed to the New Forms Festival in Vancouver, now in its 13th year. New Forms started by a group of artists, promoters, musicians, DJs and curators as a means of celebrating both cutting edge art and music, while housing it in an underground setting. Check out some pictures from the event, and Robbie’s experience in his own words.

Photos by Ash Tanasiychuk.
Words by Robbie Slade.

This year the music was housed in the Centre for Digital Media on Great Northern Way in east Van. It really was the perfect spot because it allowed you to bounce quickly between stages and the organizers did a great job of programming different vibes between the two, which was very relieving at times (No UFO’s / the Pender Street Stepepers). There were two stages: The Hangar, which had a large bar and stage and the smaller, more DIY feeling Eat Art room. Both rooms featured rich, near perfect sound quality, with great tones and thudding bass without any of the ear piercing that’s commonplace. The visuals in the Eat Art room on Saturday night were particularly noteworthy, with Peter Hagge and Tanner Matt placing a massive rotating hoola hoop over the crowd’s head and using it’s silhouette to interact with their analogue projections above the artist.

Friday night started with the showcasing of 1024 Architecture’s Hypercube. I sat in for two performances. the experience was very different depending on where you sat. For the second show I laid on the ground in the center of the cube and found the light show to be totally different. After the VIP event starting up the Hypercube ended, the venue began to fill up for the nights festivities. No UFO’s started things off in the Hangar. It was beautiful but very drony and not quite matched to the crowd’s pulse and anticipation. The Eat Art room [on the other hand] was alive with the Pender Street Steppers. Their music has its foundation in American house, but the sparse, sampled vocals’ placement made them hard to pin down to a genre. Their set was incredible. The Passenger was the next artist to take the floor in the Eat Art space. He played an energetic, analogue set that had the crowd moving and the room packed. He did a great job of opening up his slower productions for the dance floor. Next door, Lee Gamble, a London-based producer, was getting things started in the Hangar. Like the Passenger, he applied more rhythm and percussion to his set to make it more energetic. It was much appreciated by the crowd after the room’s slow start.

Photos 1-5 by Robbie Slade.

Saturday boasted a jacked lineup of locals to start things off in both rooms. We saw great sets from Kline, Calmalka & Frank Grimes. Eprom gave the crowd in the Hangar a dose of tasteful dubstep before Kahn and Rider Shafique. Vancouver darlings Evy Jane played a sultry set of their unique brand of comedown R&B in the Eat Art room before everyone crammed into the small space for Kassem Mosse. By the second or third day of a festival one’s ears can start to become desensitized to great music, but Mosse really stood out with his shrewd use of melodies, that seemed out of place until a clap or snare brought it all together. You could see the crowd nod in agreement whenever he achieved this. There was a lot of story in his music.

There was an overarching feeling of authenticity to this years New Forms — the warehouse setting was perfect for the music and visuals. The curating of the art and music should be celebrated and touted just as loudly as the artists themselves, because the way the two rooms played off of one another every night made the whole event that much more cohesive.