Article from UPTOWN Magazine.
A sense of community makes the Rainbow Trout Music Festival stand out.
The Rainbow Trout Music Festival has become a great platform for Winnipeg bands to get attention from people that might not have heard them otherwise. Not to mention that seeing a band wail on a small stage in the middle of the woods is something to behold in itself. I should know: I participated with my own band (Not Animals) two years in a row before the festival was unfortunately shut down last year due to lack of permits and law-related things. This year, however, marked my first time camping at the festival.
The location this year was gorgeous. Situated along the Roseau River near St. Malo, the Oroseau campsite, man-made swimming hole and mainstage area were collectively filled up with roughly 500 friendly, mostly young twentysomething hipsters and hippies. The swimming hole especially was a nice touch, but it was damn cold. The camping and stage areas were divided by the Tallest Poppy vendor and the surprisingly clean porta-potties (which appeared as if decent human beings used them, unlike the monstrous disasters you’d find lining the walls at larger festivals). Other craft vendors were situated near the stage, along with a large bonfire, which would light up as the last band of the night would finish its set.
The music of Trout is what sets it apart from other Manitoba music fests. Some found the variety a tad jarring, but the whole point is to showcase Winnipeg bands of all genres. I largely missed Friday night’s performances, other than the last three songs by The Empty Standards but, from what I saw on Saturday and Sunday, I thought the drastic changes in pace were endearing and exhilarating. I learned to love some great Winnipeg acts that I had neglected to see in the city for so many years, and I fell back in love with other acts that had clearly stepped up their game since I last saw them. The most notable sets in my opinion came from the likes of The Blisters, Pop Crimes, The Bokononists and Georges Beaudry (the owner of the land, who’s performance of traditional French Canadian folk tunes reminded me of how my own father might treat a crowd).
I genuinely moved by the sense of community I felt from of the volunteers and patrons. Gone was the overwhelming feeling of having thousands of people whiz past you at a larger festival. Everyone seemed very hospitable and grateful to be there. Over the course of the weekend I was offered the helping hand of a lantern during my late night set-up process, sangria, a haircut, photography for this article (from the lovely and talented Steven Ackerman) and one neighbour who was kind enough to pick up beer for me from St. Malo when my supply had drained. Wandering between the campground and bonfire under the vivid starry night sky and getting entangled in other people’s festival adventures is what the Trout experience is all about.
Witnessing Ben Jones and friends’ vision of a small local festival come to life was incredibly inspiring. I hope to see Rainbow Trout continue to flourish and evolve in its new permanent home at Oroseau.