Tall Tree: A Mainlanders Perspective

Words by: Jaime Heenan
Photos by: Bree Zimmerman

How awesome is partying on a mountaintop in beautiful Port Renfrew with all of your friends? THE BEST. If you don’t know, now ya know. The great thing about Tall Tree, and island festivals in general, is the sweet sweet vibe they produce. As an island girl now living in the big city,  I look forward to returning to the homeland for festival season because there is just something magical about these festivals that the bigger mainland festivals just can’t compete with.


Here’s why: The island music scene is just the right size- lots of amazing people, but all of the events still have an intimate vibe. You will likely run into the same friendly faces at shows and festivals, fostering new friendships wherever you go. Who doesn’t love new friends? And if you meet a babe at a show and forget to get his details? Not to worry. It’s entirely possible you could boogie into him on the dancefloor at the Spirit stage. And us island folk are a friendly bunch- you could high five every person at the festival and it’s doubtful even a single one would leave you hanging. It’s the kind of place you could ask “hey, has anyone seen my tall friend in the banana suit?” and someone could probably point you in the right direction. At Tall Tree last year, I ran into my first boyfriend from high school who was playing in a band and still has my school picture from grade nine (hi Collin). Just reconnecting all over the place. For me, Tall Tree is just one happy reunion after another.


There are no big corporate banners or $8 tall cans of crappy beer. There are no bracelets you need to load money onto in order to make purchases from the food vendors. You can, more or less, walk around anywhere with a drink in your hand. There are garbage cans and people actually use them- island folk seen to understand how beautiful of a place we live in and want to keep it clean. If you lose your friends, you will either find them quickly, someone will have seen them or you will immediately make new ones- it’s just that kind of place. Eminem won’t be performing, but you will be introduced to some amazing local hip hop you might not have heard before (Illvis Freshly whaddup?!). You don’t need an RV and pretty much anywhere you choose to camp will be a good spot. There is a lake nearby should you wish to cleanse your sins from the night before. You are supporting local artists and dancing in the (fingers crossed) sunshine with the most beautiful views. I spent years going to a festival called Soundwave (remember?) and when that ended, I thought there would never be anything like it. But it wasn’t the festival itself that was so special, it was the attendees and the attitude and the vibe. Tall Tree’s got it. If you were lucky enough to catch Mt. Doyle and Wesbeanz’s 2015 set at the Valley stage, you might remember they started off with the theme song from Cheers: “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your naaaaame, and they’re always glad you caaaame.” Sums it up. The trees get tall in 133 days! Not that we’re counting.