Five Must-See Acts at British Columbia's Forest Echoes Music Festival 2024

Cultus Lake will host 19 bands from June 28 to 30

Photo Credit: Tony Robinson

Photo: Tony Robinson

BY Alan RantaPublished May 21, 2024

Taking place from June 28 to 30 on a pristine 20-acre property in Cultus Lake, a freshwater backwoods paradise near Chilliwack, BC, Forest Echoes Music Festival guarantees a lush, First Blood-like backdrop to enjoy 19 rising, underground Canadian indie bands and entertainers, alongside area artists and craft vendors.

Early-bird passes for 2024 are already sold out, but those seeking cheaper entry can volunteer a few hours of work each day in exchange for a full weekend pass, with camping and a couple meals. All weekend passes bought also include general camping, space permitting, with meaty and veggie-friendly meals available for purchase at the festival's kitchen. Cultus Lake is famous for its inspiring scenery, as well as sockeye salmon, so showing up early to camp in that spectacular setting is essential.

Other than the breathtaking views, here are five acts that everyone should see at this fabulous Fraser Valley festival. Tickets are available here.

Brass Camel
During the Ming dynasty, around the 14th century, heavy artillery aboard navy fleets would be provided by cast-iron cannons that used black powder to fire large balls called cannonhumps. Naturally, sitting aboard swaying ships tossed by winds and waves, the round cannonhumps would roll around the deck if left loose, so sailors stacked them onto brass racks called camels. Unfortunately, brass shrinks in the cold, so, when sailing in extreme winter conditions, cannonhumps would often come loose, resulting in the commonplace phrase "cold enough to freeze the humps off a brass camel." That is not the story behind the name of Brass Camel, but the "five-headed prog funk hydra" from Vancouver does appear to be enamoured with brass, since their 2022 debut album was simply called Brass. Yet, rather than horns, lead singer/guitarist/keyboardist Daniel Sveinson swaddles his Queen-esque vocals in wah-wah blues rock riffs and outer space synths that reimagine Freddie Mercury fronting a band somewhere between Rush and Black Mountain. If anyone can top B.A. Johnston to bring the festival to a crescendo at its denouement, it's these humps.

B.A. Johnston
The least reliable cat sitter from Hamilton, the failed showman on the skids, the hardest-working hotdog vendor in the parking lot — there are many ways to tag an introduction to B.A. Johnston, but all fail to capture the marvel of seeing this poignant songwriter, gut-busting crooner and unapologetic meat-sweater live on stage. Scathingly self-deprecating, brash and outspoken, with the soul of a heartbroken poet and a dollop of bittersweet nostalgia, he writes songs that speak to particular working class Gen X experiences. He recalls the naïve innocence of 7-11 when it had arcade games, the metaphoric profundity of a blinking Nintendo, and the existential quagmire of constructing IKEA furniture with biting sarcasm, rapier wit and more distinctly Canadian references than Strange Brew and the FUBAR films combined. B.A. typically haunts dive bars, Legions and Tiger-Cats tailgates, so the opportunity to witness his incomparable low-brow high-five spectacle on a Saturday night in the woods with a bunch of likeminded weirdos from the 'Wack cannot be missed.

La Chinga
I first saw La Chinga perform at Music Waste in 2013, the same year Vancouver's hardest rocking power trio put out their self-titled debut album. They brought it at the time, and they've put a few years and beers behind them since. Reaffirming their commitment to the glory days of trashed hotel rooms, pick slides and perms with 2023's Primal Forces, their pandemic-produced fourth full-length, these long-haired, leather-wearing, high-kicking riff-riders will make Steel Panther look like a Nerf Kitten. La Chinga is all-caps ROCK AND/OR ROLL, an ideal booking to close out Friday night in the forest with gusto. Es qué onda, güeys.

Like Bears!
Tripping on that open-minded West Coast surfer vibe, Like Bears! will dab a bit of everything, delivering a dope blend of folkpop, sativa ska and indie punk like a folk fest workshop hosted by Daniel Wesley with members of the Fugitives, NoMeansNo, Pointed Sticks and Barenaked Ladies. The Chilliwack-based quartet's kaleidoscopic kitchen-sink mentality splays out across the original compositions on their 2020 sophomore full-length, Fling Mingo, yet their mania is perhaps best demonstrated by a cover of "Baby Beluga," a 90-second Hanson Brothers-esque pop-punk cuddlecore moshpit adaptation of Raffi's classic children's song that begins with a belch and ends with a curse. What wack jobs from the 'Wack!

Random Dander
On a mission from Mission, Random Dander's laidback psych-tinged hard rock is shaped by elements of Red Hot Chili Peppers, alt-funk, No Sinner blues and Big Sugar reggae. Anchored by Jackie Lee's breathy vocals, their rawkin' style lives up to the random, and they'll raise your dander up after dark on Friday night.

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