De La Soul Phillips Backyard, Victoria BC, September 15

De La Soul Phillips Backyard, Victoria BC, September 15
Photo: Lindsey Blane
Switching venues to the backyard of the renowned Phillips Brewery, headliners De La Soul closed out the first night (September 15) of this year's Rifflandia festival with their famously infectious and positive energy. Under the full moon, lots of smoke-machine gloop and purple lights, the group passed through some hip-hop stage gimmickry to get the well-oiled crowd even more excited. 

The rappers provided a good change of scene from indie-band-land, even if the crowd at Phillips had a dark, sloppy undertone that juxtaposed oddly with the hip-hop legends' bubbly vibe. (People on the periphery of the crowd seemed to be irritable for some unknown reason, perhaps some kind of full-moon meets too-much-alcohol tension.)
Nevertheless, De La Soul brought "the party," and hyped up different sections of the crowd against each other in call-and-response style, before breaking into classic cuts from 3 Feet High and Rising and De La Soul is Dead. Most people in the thick of it seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves: hands were waved in the air; feet moved.
The set's energy started flagging when the group began plugging their new record (And the Anonymous Nobody…) repeatedly, before following it with a few new tunes. Being a group who has sold progressively less and less, one is left to wonder whether the three dudes from De La Soul are still, in one way or another, trapped in the past.
At the very least, it's a past that was worth reliving last night.