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Phillips Backyard fest making its mark with star-studded roster

The line-up for Tilt!, at Phillips Backyard July 5-7, features Orville Peck, Noah Cyrus, Jessie Reyez, Saint Motel, Half Moon Run, Flyana Boss and more
Jessie Reyez headlines the Phillips Backyard Festival on Saturday FELDMAN AGENCY


Where: Phillips Brewing & Malting Co., 2010 Government St.

When: July 5-7 and Aug. 9-11

Tickets: $105.83 daily ($271.21 for a three-day pass) from


The organizers behind the Phillips Backyard Music Festival have booked 30 acts to perform at the six-day event, which runs over two weekends this summer starting tomorrow.

The performers — from Grammy Award nominees Black Pumas and neo-funk favourites Jungle to acclaimed Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt, among others — are truly international in scope, which meant creative juggling was in order if co-producers Stephen Franke and Morgan Brooker wanted the Phillips Brewing event to properly coalesce in the small window of opportunity.

“This was the hardest year booking we’ve ever had,” Franke said of the third-year festival. “Two weeks before our announcement [on April 15] we still hadn’t received confirmation on three of our headliners. We didn’t finalize our last act until the day before we announced.”

He was prepared for some delays. “When you’re working with big acts, sometimes you have to wait. It takes a long time, and there’s a lot of details to be worked out. And you can’t put someone’s name on a poster until you’re 100 per cent sure. Ninety-eight per cent keeps it on the hook, but that last two per cent makes you sweat.”

The difficulties Franke and Brooker faced in solidifying their line-up is not exclusive to the Phillips Backyard Music Festival, or any event on Vancouver Island, for that matter. Between unfavourable Canadian-U.S. exchange rates, constant routing challenges brought about by ferry travel, and dramatically increased artist fees, the concert industry as a whole is facing a revolving set of obstacles in 2024.

Which is what makes the quality of this year’s festival all the more impressive. The line-up for Tilt! (July 5-7) features Orville Peck, Noah Cyrus, Jessie Reyez, Saint Motel, Half Moon Run, Flyana Boss, Hotel Mira, Goldie Boutilier, SonReal, Liinks, Vox Rea, Haleluya Hailu, Teon Gibbs, OK Charlie and Born Reckless. Reverb (Aug. 9-11) includes Black Pumas, Earl Sweatshirt, Jungle, DRAMA, Cautious Clay, Current Swell, Astrocolor, DJ Murge, Saundra Williams, The Bankes Brothers, Nicky MacKenzie, Jungle Bobby, Surf Hat, TK the Artist, Trophy Dad and Posh Coat.

There’s room on site to accommodate such an impressive roster, as the Government Street brewery can hold up to 4,500 people each day. If things fall together as they should, the event could be pushed to capacity several times during the six days of offerings, Franke said.

“We really worked at it this year to give Victoria something that isn’t happening around here right now. And this looks like it will be the first amazing weekend of the summer, weather-wise. It looks stellar.”

Weather aside, the timing of Peck’s performance on Sunday couldn’t be better. The country star (born Daniel Pitout in Johannesburg, South Africa) is a high-profile gay rights advocate, and his first Victoria performance since 2019 may wind up being a landing spot for thousands of revellers following the Victoria Pride parade and festival in James Bay on Sunday afternoon.

“One of the key things for this weekend was when we realized that we could put something together for Victoria around Pride,” Franke said. “We’re expecting a steady stream of people from McDonald Park to Phillips, starting early in the afternoon.”

For previous editions, Brooker and Franke brought standouts such as Fleet Foxes, Anderson Paak, Bahamas, Peach Pit, Future Islands, The Beaches, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones under the umbrella of the Phillips Backyard series. The exclusivity of some of this year’s bookings, however, gives the event some upper-end punch, with popular touring acts Saint Motel, Jungle, Noah Cyrus, Black Pumas, and Earl Sweatshirt, the latter of whom doesn’t have another concert until September — in the Netherlands — all making their long-awaited local debuts.

“These are big worldwide acts,” Franke said. “People had better not miss out.”

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