Goosehunt has outgrown its space, proving that local headliners can sell out a crowd

This year’s Goosehunt festival featured an amazing set of 11 student acts, two killer headliners and an event that desperately needs to grow — for its sake and for ours.

It also featured exactly one (1) goose. We’ve been sworn to secrecy on where the rest are.

We did our best to make it to all the shows we could, but our oppressive editor said we can only review so many — so here’s our highlight reel.

We had high hopes for the band Christ Alrighty, not just because they’re opening for Block Party too but because, man, that’s a good name. They won our hearts late in the set when they revealed their parents were in the crowd (we stan a supportive family). They almost lost us when they covered the Red Hot Chili Peppers — honestly, we were hoping to hear more of their original works. They closed the night with “Sultans of Swing,” which proved that they have some serious guitar chops.

At a time when people do their best to avoid math, you’d think a math rock band would have a hard time attracting a crowd. Enter girlsnails, one of BVP’s own. They were one of our favourite discoveries of the night, mainly because we’re still not sure we understand them. They’re both cooler and smarter than us, and we’re mad about it.

girlsnails took the stage like benevolent aliens, mixing rapid riffs with slow, careful crooning. The set’s highlight was the ballad “If Rodney Were a Cowboy,” which also wins the award for best song title ever, probably.

When we were doing our advance research, all our searches for Ka Pala showed up was this Indian death metal band. You can imagine our confusion when we heard some wildly smooth surf rock instead. Ka Pala set themselves apart as a band that could win over the crowd, encouraging moshing and dancing in the front and doing a first-rate job of getting the people going. It’s not Indian death metal, but we’ll take it, and so will UBC.

The next band up was Schwey, who just dropped their debut album after six years. One of us followed Schwey back when they were Funk Schwey, and we wondered if they still had it in them after the name change.

But as lead singer and bassist Isaiah Dobbs said before the set: “The funk is implied.”

As soon as they started “Sh’qweyla,” it was like all the energy that had been slowly building in the night had exploded in a burst of sweat and smooth RnB. The tight hall of Koerner’s felt like the band’s garage: there’s Dobbs and his younger brother, Jarah, singing and goofing around; Zak Haddad is doing the rhythm work in the back and keyboardist Jacob Schwinghammer is taking breaks to rap on the mic.

It wasn’t just a good set, it was Schwey finding its groove: a funk band with punk energy.

Goosehunters were watching the packed set through their phones, moshing and singing along like they were studying the words for their first final exam. Feeling the funk was a necessity and toes were the only casualties.

The Zolas stepped right out of every indie Spotify playlist and onto the main stage like they owned the joint. And in a sense, they did. Lead singer Zach Grey went to UBC and wrote their breakthrough album Ancient Mars on campus. It was their homecoming.

How do you even behave at a Zolas show? Do you sway to “Ancient Mars” while doing your best not to cry? It was written, Grey revealed, in the Chapman Learning Commons, which explains the tears. Do you make eyes at a stranger when the synth from “Get Dark” drops? The mood was suspiciously, eerily chill — “Bombs Away” was less the soaring guitar blast we had hoped for than it was Grey preaching to his choir.

“Do people feel like a slow song now?” asked Grey. The response was a hearty ‘no.’

“We can just play ‘Swooner’ and go crazy then. How about that?” The response was a hearty ‘yes.’

It wasn’t an exaggeration. Grey entered the crowd, and people instantly began linking arms and moshing for everything they were worth. Almost 100 people were pogo-sticking up and down for a Vancouver band that never, ever forgot where they came from.

Goosehunt could teach Block Party a thing or two

We only have one criticism of the night, and that’s that it was just one night.

We said the same shit last year, but it bears repeating: Goosehunt proves there is a huge, untapped interest for live music and fun at UBC.

The event was sold out, Koerner’s was bursting at its britches (one cracked toilet seat was proof enough for us) and the bartenders were working overtime to keep the discounted beer flowing.

We can’t fault BVP for the long waits at the bar or the impossibility of seeing Schwey from more than a few rows back. But there’s room for expansion. BVP has created something so sublime it has no choice but to grow — even Grey said he wished there were more nights like this at UBC.

BVP managed to book a couple of local headliners to close-out the night, but they didn’t need the Zolas or Schwey to get students to come out and rock. We’d love to see organizers take it to the next level with a larger venue and more ambitious acts from UBC and Vancouver in the coming years.

Goosehunt doesn’t have to be more like Block Party to grow, and it shouldn’t be. The night’s biggest highlight was the students it celebrated (and intoxicated). We were glad to see Block Party booking some student bands this year, but Goosehunt proves that a local headliner can sell out a crowd too.