WHALLEY â€” A festival of electronic, R&B and hip-hop music is turning Surreyâ€™s Holland Park into a â€œblock-party environment."
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 â€“ 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 â€œFadedâ€ 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 â€œmouseâ€ 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 â€œgreat events lawnâ€ 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.
â€œWhen we came up with this as our summer property in Surrey, we wanted to mix it up, music wise, and thatâ€™s what we have,â€ Alvaro Prol, a founder and co-owner of Blueprint, said during a conference call that also included Erik Hoffman, Live Nationâ€™s vice-president of talent.
â€œOne 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.
"Itâ€™s always going to kind of remain the same in the sense that weâ€™ll always do R&B and dance music and hip-hop, and there wonâ€™t be, like, folk music or anything weird that we donâ€™t already promote at Blueprint, but we definitely donâ€™t call this a dance music-exclusive festival.â€
The festivalâ€™s nightly â€œcurfewâ€ 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.
â€œThe music will be loud at certain points, no doubt,â€ Prol confirmed.
â€œWhen 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.â€
(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 wasnâ€™t at all aware of FVDED in the Park.
â€œYou know, if itâ€™s well-supervised and properly policed, I donâ€™t have a concern with it,â€ said Nichols after being told about the event. â€œI 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 weâ€™re locking down everything, itâ€™s just wrong.â€
Parking for all those ticketholders may be an issue, Nichols cautioned, and he does wonder about noise levels near the festival site.
â€œI mean, if I were living in one of the towers right there, um, Iâ€™d probably be a little bit pissed off, but the good that comes with an event like this.â€¦ 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?â€
In a â€œFAQâ€ 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 â€œdrop off, pick upâ€ 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 â€œbeer gardensâ€ are noted on the festival map, plus a â€œVIPâ€ area adjacent to the â€œPacific Stage,â€ located in the northwest corner of the park.
Both Live Nation and Blueprint have years of experience staging such events, Hoffman underlined.
â€œWe 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,â€ Hoffman said.
â€œI 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,â€ he added. â€œWe have a good flow on those things, and I can tell you that we have a bit of an â€˜Aâ€™ team going into this one, with our security hat, our medical hat. Itâ€™s important to step up in those areas, we know that. Itâ€™s a big one, we know that. We are ready. Weâ€™ve done these before.â€
Elizabeth Model, CEO of the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, also hasnâ€™t heard much about FVDED in the Park, but said she welcomes any â€œplace-makingâ€ event that comes to Surrey.
â€œWe need those events in order to capitalize on the wonderful features of our downtown core in Surrey,â€ Model told the Now, â€œand those include Fusion Fest, the movies we do there, anything that brings people to a place.
â€œMumford & Sons was highly successful there, and the feedback was just tremendous,â€ she added. â€œWe know that this event (FVDED in the Park) will be different than that concert, yes, but until it happens, until weâ€™ve experienced it, we canâ€™t speculate about it. Weâ€™ll have to see how it goes.â€
Nichols said events like this are a â€œpositiveâ€ for Whalley.
â€œAs long as itâ€™s part of their purview to keep the idiots at bay, Iâ€™m all for it,â€ he reiterated. â€œUnfortunately, for some people, itâ€™s like complaining about the manure smell when you move to Langley, you know? We need events to come here.â€
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.