Community Atmosphere, Cultural Gathering: Atmosphere 2014

The Atmosphere Gathering lived up to it’s name providing attendee’s an intimate music festival experience which truly felt like a gathering between old friends and new. Art installations were set among the park-like backdrop of the festival, providing ambiance and character throughout the grounds. There was most definitely a family-friendly earthy vibe at Atmosphere, revealing a community of like-minded people who were there to listen, learn and celebrate. One of the weekend’s most poignant tag-lines says it best: “Bring your art imagination and your plate.”

A unique attribute to Atmosphere was the family-style dinners for staff, volunteers, artists and attendees. The food was absolutely extraordinary and while eating dinner or lunch, all were able to sit around the table together, feeling like a family reunion at every meal time! Slap down a two dollar deposit on a plate and all the festival asked of you was to wash it and return it for your toonie collateral. Brilliant!

Daytime workshops were well attended and varied from art workshops to yoga, and to spiritual awakenings. Our favourites included the dream catcher workshop and the Navajo Hoop Dancer and throat singer. Workshops are always a welcome addition to all festivals and it was great to see the vast array of learning opportunities at Atmosphere.


The Music

As far as small festivals go, Cumberland gathered together a pretty eclectic mix of singer/songwriters and performers, well known big group acts such as Blackalicious and The Funk Hunters, and a host of up-and-coming DJ/producers this month for the maiden voyage of Atmosphere Gathering. This is the ‘reincarnation’ of the former Big Time Out festival that fell the same weekend in Cumberland in years past, but with a remarkably different mission and attitude. The feel of the music collection at Atmosphere seemed at times to be a product of partiers fresh from Shambhala (face paint and animal prints were aplenty) and a general movement towards new-age electronic music craved by West Coast listeners. That being said, the event typified the laid back, come-as-you-are mood of a Vancouver Island summer. Here is a brief highlight of the stand-out acts from across the diverse categories of performers at Atmosphere Gathering.


The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer
Representing the blues/roots contingent from the weekend, Vancouver’s duo rang in Friday afternoon as the first big out-of-town act. The rusty, razor sharp sound may have suited a sunny outdoor stage a bit better, but early weekend festival-ers had no problem cramming into the tent for this one.

The Funk Hunters
Victoria’s soulful troupe made a big splash with bright visuals and a huge crowd on Saturday night in the Circus Tent, the group bringing the whole team with them, including guest vocals, plenty of wind and brass and some new mixes that shook dancers and left shirts littered across the tent floor.



All the way from Italy, Gaudi were a huge and welcome surprise for attendees, their eclectic funk/reggae/house creations (aptly known as ‘worldbeat’) turned up some serious energy, highlighted by the duo’s infectious stage presence. There was a bit of thrashing, pelvic thrusting and just the right amount of Mediterranean tropical meandering going on in the tent Sunday night. We’ve been getting familiar with these guys over the past week and a half and suggest you do the same.

A Tribe Called Red
Tribe seemed to be a perfect fit for Atmosphere. Mesmerizing stage performers and music that created some high energy and huge crowds Saturday night. They had no problem following big headliners The Funk Hunters.


The B.C. interior electronic outfit were a great late night ender, and closed out the weekend with clean, peppy and uprooting beats. By this time the vast majority of party-clad youth had migrated to the Atmosphere stage for one final shake. They, like me, were not disappointed.


Project Intent… THE CIRCUS TENT!

Local party legend Ben Howells and his partners Katreena Bennet and Darryl Czegledi have turned a massive dream into a reality over the years. After hosting many events in the Comox Valley it became clear to them that the need for hosting larger events was apparent, but difficult to facilitate. Hence “Project Intent” was born. The trio set out to bring a massive circus-like tent suitable for hosting a variety of community events including, galas, rotary fundraisers, dance parties, and maybe even clown car races one day to the Comox Valley. “Intent rentals believes that all businesses should have an arm that directly contributes to the communities they operate in” says Howells.

Using a unique crowd funding platform entitled “Intent Creative Network” built by the people for the people, the power of social media and some incredible community support their dream has began to come to life. On August 15-17 the very first event was hosted in the glorious 118ft wide and 58ft tall tent at Atmosphere Gathering.

When asked the reasons why Howell and his crew decided to take on this project he replied:

“After deciding to crowdfund last winter the project took its final evolution. In September after what we hope is a completely funded project, we will be opening up Project Intent so others can make their projects come to life!
The tent is symbolic to following your dreams, run away and join the circus… Project Intent’s website is about helping, in some cases, making people’s dream a reality.
Especially in this day and age where not only arts and culture, but science and new technologies are not being funded.

This model can be reproduced in any community its not a new idea. But our ability to communicate is getting better so these types of grass roots projects have the potential to be much more effective and representative of the population that supports it.”
Although the tent has arrived all the way from Glastonbury, UK the Intent Project still needs your help in funding this magnificent tent. Find out how you can get involved and contribute, as well as have your own projects funded through Intent Creative Network here:

Here’s a video explaning everything might be helpful to include it and for you to check out!

Overall the event was a smashing success: bursting with creativity, overflowing with positive vibes and a welcoming “atmosphere” we hope to see this unique festival continue to grow in 2015 and most definitely give Atmosphere Gathering a DOUBLE-HIGH KICK! ❤

Photos and words by: The Lion at Large, Betty and Kora ❤

1 Comment on Community Atmosphere, Cultural Gathering: Atmosphere 2014

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