Pemberton Fest artists recount their 'favourite booze memory'


Pemberton Music Festival starts today (July 14) so we interviewed several of the performers about their first, worst or most memorable experience with alcohol.

We were really hoping Noel Gallagher would be available to grace us with some of his stories, but no such luck. Oh well.

Here are the two best stories we heard. Enjoy?

Nick Swardson – comedian, “serious drinker”

Good lord. I like the contradiction of your favourite booze memory, like both those things go together at all. It’s a good question, because I remember it vividly.

My mother growing up used to drink a beer called Coors Light. My mom used to drink it like ice cold. I’ve told this story in my standup before. I remember summer nights and stuff, she would crack open a beer and she would give me a sip. She had some thing where she was like, if you give a child a couple sips, it was something like it was fine for them or something. Whatever her theory was, I supported it.

So every time she cracked one open I would get a couple sips. I loved it.  I was literally nine years old, and I remember going around school and talking loudly about how my favourite beer was Coors Light. I thought I was super cool.

I remember the teacher got super upset when I said it in class. She called my mom and shit, but I thought I was super badass. “Yeah man, Coors Light – you guys haven’t tried it? That’s weird. It’s really good – probably one of the best.”


Zach Gray – musician, member of The Zolas

I have this scarring experience with pastis (a French anise-flavoured spirit), but the way that alcohol works, even when you know you had a terrible time with it, it still somehow produces nostalgia for that exact thing.

I had a very weird couple months a few summers ago where I was shooting a movie with a few friends. They were shooting it in Europe, so we flew to Paris and had a few scenes there. Our next bunch of scenes was in Barcelona, so we took a train there. This train is a 12-hour overnight train. It was six people in one train cabin and nobody had thought to bring any food, except for our French souvenirs, which were an entire wheel of smelly cheese, and a big bottle of pastis. 

The Growler 0714
The Zolas kick off Pemberton Music Festival playing Mount Currie stage Thursday at 4pm. – Contributed photo

At first we thought this was a hilarious problem to have and we were just going to consume it all, but anyone who has any experience with pastis can imagine how that would combine with smelly cheese in a confined space. By the end of it, we could barely live with ourselves. There was no window to open, it was just this little cell filled with the Frenchest smells you could possibly ask for all floating around together.

After 12 hours of only eating cheese and drinking pastis, I think the vomit rate was above 50 per cent. Everyone was accepting that that was going to happen.

Finally we landed in Barcelona and we were removing our bags from a compartment under the beds. From underneath one of the beds, out popped this tiny man. This tiny man had been stowed away – is there another word for a train stowaway? He was stowing away on this train to get free passage and he was this little, kind of, he looked like a…I don’t know how to describe him. He was a little man. He hopped out and he didn’t speak any English. All he said was, “No police please.”

We were all in shock, and then he said, “Smells so bad,” and then he ran away.

It was so gross, and we didn’t have that good a time at the time. But thinking about stinky cheese and pastis – and even vomiting – it just makes me want to go back to Paris.


• Pemberton Music Festival starts Thursday (July 14) and runs through Sunday. The Zolas perform Thursday, while Swardson performs on Friday. Tickets are still available through the Pemberton website.

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