Photos by Sean Chin.
Walking into the grounds of Parc Jean-Drapeau can be intimidating at first, there is an ocean of people walking in every direction making you feel like a salmon swimming upstream, then you notice the two main stages that are side by side. If you like the biggest and best bands you can plop yourself down and never leave the main area without being disappointed. Walking across the grounds, off to the side of River Stage presented by Virgin Mobile, is the main VIP section. Flashing our wristbands you by pass the big lines for food vendors, beer and bathrooms to get to the exclusive area where everything you need is in one place. Walking to the front of the VIP crowds is a stair case that is protected by two smiling Virgin Mobile employees who greet us and open up access to a whole other world. Reaching the top of the stairs we are once again greeted by a smiling young man who takes a Polaroid picture of us. The VIP area was filled with Virgin Mobile contest winners, who all get this once in a lifetime opportunity to see their favourite bands in a most unique experience.
On the first day we were whisked away in a golf cart with a small handful of other winners where we were brought to the Artist World, a safe haven for the bands playing where they can meet up and exchange road warrior stories and eat a lot of food. It seemed like there was a thousand different booths with food including, fried chicken, oysters, pad thai, burgers, poutine, candy, cold pressed juice and smoothies, cakes, cookies, brownies and a full service barista station making any drink you want. It’s good that I don’t get star struck too easily as Haim sat behind us, Banners walked by to load up his plate as we were packing up, and Cypress Hill was entering the same time we were leaving.
After another golf cart ride behind the scenes back to the main VIP area, we were brought backstage to watch Passenger play. When you are in the crowd, you think everything around you is loud, the music, the fans, the beer vendors, but standing backstage hearing people scream for Passenger is a noise level I won’t forget. Other acts we got to see from backstage include The Arcs and Cat Empire. Considering Passenger wasn’t even a headliner I can’t imagine what Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Ray and Radiohead hear.
It seemed like everyday there was a new fun experience to have, on the second day we got to watch Haim from the fan pit, a view that so few people (even those that shelled out big bucks for the Platinum VIP tickets) are able to get. We even got to hear the ladies play two new songs!
Speaking of the fantastic group of headliners the high rise platform of the Virgin Mobile VIP section made for perfect viewing of the legendary acts. From rocking out to the Peppers, slow dancing to Lana and experiencing the blissfulness of Radiohead being able to rise above the crowd for a perfect view is unbeatable. Add to the fact that you are surrounded by real music fans, none of this overly pretentious VIP schmoozer’s, just regular people who there for the love of the festival.
Special thanks to Virgin Mobile for hooking us up with this amazing experience. I know that everyone we talked too in the Virgin Mobile lounge were having the time off their lives. It is nice to have an experience catered by music lovers for music lovers in one of the greatest cities in the world.