Victoria-based five-piece folkloric dance group Compassion Gorilla tours the Okanagan, with an Aug. 10 stop at Record City and an Aug. 11 gig at Lorenzo’s Cafe. (Photo submitted)

Insighftul and danceable sounds of compassion

While music should make listeners get up and groove, it should also inspire, enlighten, and educate

There’s more to music than just the sound. While it should make the audience get up and groove, it should also inspire, enlighten, and educate.

That’s the goal of Victoria’s five-piece folkloric dance group Compassion Gorilla, who takes the Record City stage Aug. 10 and Lorenzo’s Cafe Aug. 11.

“The music is still definitely influenced by social and political themes,” said Chris Fretwell, who plays guitar, charango, requinto, and vocals with Compassion Gorilla. “Apocalypse Never, the first single from the upcoming album, is a playful jab at the apocalyptic mentality of today’s society and ambivalence towards the human impacts on the planet’s life support systems. The band also often contributes to projects that support indigenous led land defence.”

Formerly known as Compassion Guerrilla, the band’s name comes from their early involvement in social and political movements and a desire to provide a festive and uplifting atmosphere at political rallies and events.

“Compassion Gorilla began during jam sessions between travelling musicians in a tiny baseent suite and quickly became a mainstay of house parties and bar shows at the university pub,” Fretwell said of Compassion Gorilla’s formative years. “The band honed its sound through years of evolving membership and diverse travels and collaborations throughout the Americas.”

Their unique performance blends folkloric tales with Latin American and Balkan instrumentals, filtered through the fingers and voices of B.C. musicians who grew up listening to North American rock and roll.

“We love making people dance and smile, and making them ask us, ‘So, what kind of music is that?’” Fretwell said, adding that their live performances are often high energy in hopes of getting the audience moving.

After the rush of playing ArtsWells Aug. 4-7, Compassion Gorilla is hitting the Southern Interior with a brief Okanagan tour.

“I grew up visiting Vernon on an almost yearly basis,” Fretwell said, adding that it will be Compassion Gorilla’s first gig in Vernon and second at Lorenzo’s Cafe.

“We played there (Lorenzo’s) last summer, and it was a hit. It should be a fun crowd and a good turnout.”

Compassion Gorilla is releasing a new full-length album in September and will be touring extenstively throughout B.C. in the fall.

SMG Endeavours presents Compassion Gorilla Aug. 10 at Record City, 3127-30th Ave. Tickets are available for $10 in advance from, or $15 at the door. Doors at 7 p.m., music by 8 p.m. Compassion Gorilla takes the Lorenzo’s Cafe stage in Ashton Creek Aug. 11. $10 cover. Doors at 6 p.m., music at 8 p.m.

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