By Courtney Creator
LETHBRIDGE — “The Lethbridge scene is here. It exists, and people don’t realize it exists,” says Sean Warkentine, music director of CKXU 88.3 FM, Lethbridge’s community/campus radio station. “I’ve only been discovering how here it is.”
The scene may seem small, but it’s strong, and full of creators who are constantly contributing to the growing culture of Lethbridge.
A pinnacle in the Lethbridge music scene is the Electric Eye Music Festival, taking place this May 11-15. Coordinators James Phelan and Eric Sharp started the festival in 2014, inspired by festivals they admire, such as Sled Island.
“The vision of the festival has always been to highlight the emerging acts and showcase artists within the region,” says Sharp. “This year we’ll expand it across five days, and bring in more artists that we love, that we want to see here.”
What began as a one day, by donation event, has grown to 50 bands, playing at 6 different venues across the city, for “the ridiculously affordable” price of $60, which will also get you an Electric Eye compilation tape of 2015’s live recordings.
Last year Viet Cong and Chad VanGaalen opened the festival on Thursday night, setting up music lovers for a weekend of melodious bliss. This year’s highlights include:
Wednesday, be sure to catch Striker, well-established hair metal tongue-in-cheek fun time party band. Thursday will be nostalgic with David Bowie’s incarnate, Johnny de Courcy, as well as Vancouver garage pop band Painted Fruit. Friday you can party with Napalmpom, righteous riff-rock from Calgary, and Saturday it gets hot with the Freak Heat Waves.
To see the full list of bands, and to purchase tickets, go to eemusicfest.com.
This year’s festival is expanding beyond musical acts to include ‘Castrati: An Electro Drag Opera’ hosted by Theatre Outré, a pop-up art gallery at the city’s newest venue Attainable Records and the first ever YQL Anarchist Book Fair.
Emmy MacDonald, the initial organizer of the Anarchist Book Fair, is excited to bring her favourite parts of anarchism to Lethbridge, such as information about free press and co-housing, while taking an intersectional, feminist approach to make the event more accessible.
“I wanted to do it, but do it differently, and Lethbridge is a good place to do that,” says MacDonald. “I feel like the community here is really supportive about new ideas and really willing to get excited about things.”
Anarchy workshops, a comic panel with Eric Dyck and Stacey Bru, and keynote speaker Michael Truscello, associate professor at Mount Royal University, will take place on Saturday, May 14. ” I hope that it will really get people connected more than anything,” says MacDonald. “We’re all doing our own things, and maybe we could join together.”
Collaboration is key in our intimate community. Mechaela Marr, art director at Attainable Records, is hosting an art exhibit for Electric Eye, asking people to interpret what the festival and music means to them. To submit artwork, email firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30.
Attainable Records is a non-profit, artist run, volunteer led art and music venue initiated by University of Lethbridge Digital Audio Arts students Owen Campeau, Duncan Metcalfe, and Connor HD, who were later joined by art history major Mechaela Marr.
“Whatever we can do for the betterment of arts and culture in Lethbridge,” says Campeau, “is exactly what we want the end goal to be.”
“[We’re just] building on top of the community that already exists here,” says Marr.
Electric Eye is an annual multi-venue arts and music fest that takes place May 11-15. For more information go to eemusicfest.com.AB, Alberta, Electric Eye Music Festival, Lethbridge