The Phillips Backyard Weekender @ Phillips Brewery, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Photos & review by Leanne (Green) Yerex | July 26 2019

Located on the popular Government Street in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, sits Phillips Brewing & Malting. A Victoria fixture since the early 2000s, Phillips not only brews unique craft beer - they’ve gone on to host concerts and music festivals in their “backyard”.


An unassuming parking lot and loading bay by day, the Phillips Brewery “backyard” is transformed each summer into a space boasting a stage, food trucks, craft beer, cider and spirits. In its sixth year, this year’s lineup included artists such as Shad, Danny Brown and Dirty Projectors.

This three-day music festival draws crowds up to 4500 who are ready for a weekend of sunshine, craft beer and music.

Kicking things off Friday afternoon was local DJ Jennay Badger (not pictured), followed by community brass and woodwind ensemble The Brass. The Brass are anything but what you’d expect for a brass and woodwind ensemble, covering the likes of Arkells, David Bowie and Beyoncé.

The Brass

Friday’s lineup brought out the more laid-back festival-goers with Montréal trio Random Recipe getting everyone dancing and swaying with their steel-drum infused tunes. 

Random Recipe was a perfect segue into DJ Z-Trips reggae-inspired set in preparation for headliners Steel Pulse

Saturday’s lineup was stacked with hip-hop artists, but by far the standout was Brampton, Ontario’s Haviah Mighty. A founding member of The Sorority, Mighty recently released a solo album, 13th Floor, which she referenced often during her set, performing various songs off the album. 

By the time K-Os took to the stage, the venue was becoming increasingly packed. While Friday felt like a laid-back summer party, the energy had quickly shifted to a beer-fuelled bro-fest, for lack of a better description. 

Bundled up in a hoodie and trenchcoat despite the hot summer weather, K-Os performed hits like “Man I Used to Be” and “Crabbuckit” much to the delight of fans. 

Surrey, British Columbia rapper Merkules and his extensive crew took to the stage, pausing often to talk to the crowd, and even bringing his parents and wife out on stage to thank them for their support.

Capping off the night was Danny Brown. It’s a safe bet that the Detroit rapper was the reason most people had purchased single-day tickets to the festival. By this point the crowd was so jam-packed towards the front of the stage, it took moving as a large group for us photographers to even enter the photo pit. Brown delivered a set filled with hits which had the sign-wielding fans who were pushed up against the barricade, screaming along. 

Unfortunately, Saturday brought out a crowd filled with people - mostly men - that for some reason in 2019 still seem to think it’s ok to touch a person or their belongings without their consent. Both myself and other photographers encountered issues, including having camera gear grabbed, or being grabbed at by people behind the barricade while we were simply trying to do our jobs or exit the photo pit. Thankfully, though, we work alongside other photographers and a security team who keep an eye out for everyone. With Saturday coming to a close - I was hopeful that Sunday would bring back Friday’s laid-back atmosphere.

Thankfully, this was the case. The sun continued shining on the brewery backyard, with Sunday’s crowd being considerably smaller and more mellow. 

Experimental music and performance art collective Yamantaka // Sonic Titan brought their eclectic sound to the stage, complete with elaborate face paint. 

I was personally looking forward to Shad’s set. I hadn’t seen him perform since Tall Tree Music Festival in Port Renfrew, British Columbia, years ago, before his time as the host of the Q on CBC Radio One.

I was not disappointed! Backed by his band, he moved around the stage energetically, often stepping out onto the monitors towards the crowd. 

Closing out the weekend was New York’s Dirty Projectors. During their set, in stark contrast to the prior night, I witnessed a concert-goer leading strangers in a choreographed dance near the back of the venue. More and more people joined in, and by the end of the set, there was a full-fledged dance number happening.

As the sun set on the brewery, people filtered out of the venue, many of which headed to the Phillips Tasting Room, myself included. Capping off the festival sipping a flight of beer brewed right where we had spent the weekend was the perfect end to this unique festival.