Entertainment

Electric Feel: BC Place lights up for Vancouver's CONTACT music festival

If you're sitting at home tonight – Friday – either gearing up for the weekend or celebrating your last night of the Christmas season with some sort of heavy, cozy blanket and you notice the entire rim of BC Place is lit up and going crazy... well, there's a reason for that.

"It's the only building in the world that does this," said Alvaro Prol, co-founder of Blueprint Events, the promotion company behind Vancouver's CONTACT electric music festival, which goes for a second straight night tonight, December 27. (Live Nation is partnering with Blueprint to present the event.)

The ceiling and panels at BC Place all have LED capability, said Prol, and they've been outfitted to bounce and dance with the sounds coming from inside the dome.

So, that explains the light show.

"People in Vancouver are viewing it from their apartments and they get a little bit of a show, too," said Prol.

"We took control of it and we programmed our own stuff to be able to run music through it... We're able to give it different looks and feels with the different artists."

Tonight marks the second night of the two-day CONTACT music festival in BC Place, the sequel to 2012's one-day affair that has expanded from Deadmau5 to include acts and artists like Skrillex and Kaskade.

Prol says changes have been made from last year's show – the stage, for example, has been moved from the end zone to where the sideline would be – and from last night's show, ensuring Friday's concert will be as pitch perfect as possible.

And while there were complaints on Thursday by some concertgoers who said they had to wait in line for an hour or two just to get in, Prol says the delays were necessary to ensure security and he expects a smoother screening on Friday.

"I feel waits are going to be half today and things are going to go a lot faster," he said. "Whenever you're doing an event of any magnitude, you've gotta get people in the venue, and line up for coat check, in this type of event."

Prol says focus was also placed on BC Place's liquor concessions for this year's CONTACT and there were "no lineups anywhere" for people buying beverages on Thursday.

The idea for CONTACT was born after and out of the 2010 Winter Olympics, when BC Place was used for the artistic and special effects-driven shows at both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

"When the building was under renovation before the Olympics, as a promoter we were excited to do something," said Prol. "It was just a matter of what we were going to do, we ended up coming up with the CONTACT concept."

The 2012 concert ran on just Boxing Day and had over 12,000 in attendance. This year, it's been turned into a two-day blowout, and the crowd is expected to top 20,000.

"It's pretty unique in its nature, with the fact that it's indoors and it's in the city," said Prol.

Aside from the now-gone Virgin music festival and the Merritt Mountain country music festival, our province hasn't always been a part of the party, with music lovers often forced to go south in search of their concert cravings.

California has Coachella, Tennessee has Bonnaroo, Chicago has Lollapalooza, Washington State has Sasquatch, Miami has Ultra... and British Columbia?

Well, now Vancouver has CONTACT, Kelowna has Centre of Gravity, and even Salmo has Shambhala. Organizers have also planned a 2014 return for the Pemberton Music Festival, which fell apart after a troubled 2008.

"There's quite a bit of popularity for festivals of all kinds," said Prol. "You get to see the artists and be around a lot of people."

It's also been a banner year or two for BC Place, which was once just the home of the BC Lions. Now, it also houses the Vancouver Whitecaps and has played to Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, and Taylor Swift since November, 2012.

There was the Olympics four years ago and there's the upcoming NHL Heritage Classic, which will pit the Vancouver Canucks against the Ottawa Senators in March, in the league's first-ever closed-dome outdoor game.

"I think it's undeniable they've done a great job there," Prol says of BC Place. "It's a real serious building and globally it's right up there.

"It deserves its success. They're really progressive and they work really hard. They're a great partner."

CONTACT Music Festival

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