Music fest brings ‘block party’ vibe to Surrey’s Holland Park

WHALLEY — A festival of electronic, R&B and hip-hop music is turning Surrey’s Holland Park into a “block-party environment."

FVDED in the Park is brought to the site as a ticketed event by Live Nation Canada, which also booked British folk-rock band Mumford & Sons there in the spring of 2013.

This time around, the international concert promoter has partnered with Vancouver-based company Blueprint Events to stage a festival in Surrey aimed at a younger, dance music-loving crowd.

Concert planners are banking on a minimum of 15,000 people to attend the festival daily – not the largest crowd for any one event held at Holland Park (25,000 ticketholders cheered when Mumford & Sons hit the stage there), but FVDED in the Park will be among the loudest.

The thing is, few people in the immediate area seem to know much about the event, which, for starters, is pronounced “Faded” in the Park.

The event was headlined last night (Friday, July 3) by Deadmau5, a hugely popular DJ known for blasting bass-y beats while wearing a mask affixed with large “mouse” ears. Today (Saturday), fellow Canadian The Weeknd brings his brand of modern R&B to the main stage. In all, a dozen cutting-edge artists are featured at the festival, including Tyler The Creator, Flosstradamus, Pete Tong, Afrojack, Excision, The Chainsmokers and more.

Staging apparatus will remain there until July 6.

Holland Park was purpose-built for such “great events lawn” public gatherings, and the wide-ranging success of the Mumford & Sons concert there convinced Live Nation and Blueprint to bring something entirely new to the site in the summer, probably on an annual basis.

The companies also co-produce the popular Contact electronic-music festival at BC Place in December each year, among other music-related events.

“When we came up with this as our summer property in Surrey, we wanted to mix it up, music wise, and that’s what we have,” Alvaro Prol, a founder and co-owner of Blueprint, said during a conference call that also included Erik Hoffman, Live Nation’s vice-president of talent.

“One of our headliners is an R&B act (The Weeknd), so we definitely want this to feel like a block-party environment with a mixed bag of artists," Prol said.

"It’s always going to kind of remain the same in the sense that we’ll always do R&B and dance music and hip-hop, and there won’t be, like, folk music or anything weird that we don’t already promote at Blueprint, but we definitely don’t call this a dance music-exclusive festival.”

The festival’s nightly “curfew” is 11 p.m. and, in describing the event and exactly how excited they are to bring it to Surrey, both Prol and Hoffman understand that some people who live in the area may not appreciate everything about it.

“The music will be loud at certain points, no doubt,” Prol confirmed.

“When we did Contact the first year, I remember that we all sat around and went over things like this, and I felt the neighbours there were really positive about everything, and hopefully people will react in a similar way there (in Surrey.”

(Story continues below video of Deadmau5 performance in Germany)

 

 

When contacted by the Now this week, Pete Nichols, who runs Whalley Printers and is involved with the Whalley Community Improvement Association, said he wasn’t at all aware of FVDED in the Park.

“You know, if it’s well-supervised and properly policed, I don’t have a concern with it,” said Nichols after being told about the event. “I think we have to do that kind of event there (at Holland Park). We need to show people that Surrey is a good place to be on a Saturday afternoon, evening, whatever. If we’re locking down everything, it’s just wrong.”

Parking for all those ticketholders may be an issue, Nichols cautioned, and he does wonder about noise levels near the festival site.

“I mean, if I were living in one of the towers right there, um, I’d probably be a little bit pissed off, but the good that comes with an event like this.… With 15,000 people coming to the event, most of them by transit, probably, how many dollars does that mean are coming into the community?”

In a “FAQ” document (frequently asked questions) emailed to the Now by Live Nation, event planners encourage concert-goers to ride public transit to the Holland Park site, or use a designated “drop off, pick up” zone along King George Boulevard.

Those in need of medical attention at the event can be helped at one of two First Aid tents.

In February, Surrey city council granted the event planners a liquor license for the festival. Three “beer gardens” are noted on the festival map, plus a “VIP” area adjacent to the “Pacific Stage,” located in the northwest corner of the park.

Both Live Nation and Blueprint have years of experience staging such events, Hoffman underlined.

“We rent the field and pay for all the infrastructure, which is a significant investment for things such as security, staging, water systems, cleanup, receptacles. The list of things we take care of is a long one,” Hoffman said.

“I think anybody who lives on the conservative side and has concerns about large public gatherings, we understand those concerns, and we as companies spend a lot of time going over medical and security, all those things,” he added. “We have a good flow on those things, and I can tell you that we have a bit of an ‘A’ team  going into this one, with our security hat, our medical hat. It’s important to step up in those areas, we know that. It’s a big one, we know that. We are ready. We’ve done these before.”

Elizabeth Model, CEO of the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, also hasn’t heard much about FVDED in the Park, but said she welcomes any “place-making” event that comes to Surrey.

“We need those events in order to capitalize on the wonderful features of our downtown core in Surrey,” Model told the Now, “and those include Fusion Fest, the movies we do there, anything that brings people to a place.

“Mumford & Sons was highly successful there, and the feedback was just tremendous,” she added. “We know that this event (FVDED in the Park) will be different than that concert, yes, but until it happens, until we’ve experienced it, we can’t speculate about it. We’ll have to see how it goes.”

Nichols said events like this are a “positive” for Whalley.

“As long as it’s part of their purview to keep the idiots at bay, I’m all for it,” he reiterated. “Unfortunately, for some people, it’s like complaining about the manure smell when you move to Langley, you know? We need events to come here.”

For ticket and schedule details, visit Fvdedinthepark.com.

Looking ahead, Holland Park also plays host to the 2015 edition of Surrey Fusion Festival for two days this month, on July 18 and 19, with guitar master Jose Feliciano and bhangra duo Jazzy B and Miss Kaur featured this year. Admission to the festival grounds is free.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

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