Rocking the rooftop with alt art

Hundreds of people congregate at the downtown Vernon parkade rooftop above VPAG for Riot on the Roof

As the sun sets above Vernon, illuminating the clouds in vibrant orange and purple hues, hundreds of people congregate at the downtown Vernon parkade rooftop above the Vernon Public Art Gallery.

Sounds of local musicians cascade down from the rooftop as patrons enjoy the varied display of live dance, comedy, and visual art that transform the parkade into the city’s artistic nexus. The one night only event Aug. 26 is VPAG’s way of ringing in the end of summer, and celebrating the creative talents of Vernon.

“Riot on the Roof was created to provide opportunities to emerging artists of all genres and in turn hosting an affordable summer wrap-up event for the community,” said Dauna Kennedy Grant, VPAG executive director. “It was started nine years ago as a way to provide an opportunity for emerging artists. It’s a fun, funky art event on the parkade.”

The array of artistic offerings, both visual and auditory, has something to offer all art enthusiasts.

“It’s been amazing,” Kennedy Grant said of past years. “We’ve had as many as 700 people up there.”

The project is the responsibility of VPAG’s summer students, who begin planning the festivities during their spring inauguration.

“That (Riot on the Roof) is the main role for them,” Kennedy Grant said. “The summer students end up being the producers for this event.”

For the ninth edition of the annual event, VPAG summer students Jenna Short and Courtney Lee blended Riot on the Roof classic acts with a swath of new performers and festivities to create a varied and balanced set.

“We wanted to make sure the performers were all new,” said Short. “It was really fun to get to listen to the music — a lot of these bands I haven’t heard of before.”

Headlining the rooftop bash is local alternative rockers //AMISTAD//, who have quickly been making a name for themselves in the Canadian alternative scene.

“It’s a cool event and people come back to town for it,” said //AMISTAD// lead singer and guitarist Aidan Andrews, adding that this will be the band’s third time performing at the event.

“We’re really proud of that,” Andrews said of the band’s Riot on the Roof progression. “It’s always a highlight of our summer. We use it to try out new songs. It’s very welcoming, and it’s definitely a favourite.”

Riot on the Roof will be one of the band’s last local shows for a few months, Andrews said. //AMISTAD//, who recently dropped a new video for their single Conquer, embarks on their inaugural international tour in September, with stops in Los Angeles and Europe.

“It’s pretty exciting to see how they have progressed,” Kennedy Grant said of //AMISTAD//.

While //AMISTAD// serenades the rooftop crowd, Emerald Holt, in partnership with the Downtown Vernon Association, will host a live bench painting, and Jaime Carr will take the audience’s breath away through interpretive dance.

“It was really nice to see the different pieces,” Lee said of producing the ninth annual Riot on the Roof.

Short agreed.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Short said. “We get along really well.”

Kennedy Grant is proud of the work Short and Lee put into crafting the Riot on the Roof lineup and is looking forward to the event.

“I think people should be excited to see the variety of art,” said Kennedy Grant. “The girls have worked really hard to pull this together.”

The ninth annual Riot on the Roof, presented by VPAG and title sponsor A&W, rocks the parkade rooftop above the gallery (3228-31 Ave.) Aug. 26 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are available for $10 and can be purchased at the gallery or online at