By Colin Gallant, Jarrett Edmund, Levi Manchak and Brittany Rudyk. All words by Brittany Rudyck except where marked.
Saturday, October 7
On a blustery afternoon, music nerds gathered to spend an hour being quizzed by Canadian broadcaster and living encyclopedia, Alan Cross. The audience nailed a few of his questions and soaked up his sense of humour and incredible depth of knowledge. We learned Mike Edwards, the cellist from ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) died in a hay bale collision on a highway. And that Ricky Gervais used to be in an ’80s new wave group called Seona Dancing who had a huge hit in the Philippines called “More to Lose.” The afternoon was intellectually satisfying.
Over at the Downtown Edmonton Community League (DECL), it was much louder. Edmonton’s own Feminal Fluids are always hilariously raunchy. Musically, they’re a gritty version of the Ramones, but with deep, throaty growls about menstruation and butts.
Dead Fibres ripped up DECL afterwards with a grunge inspired psych punk explosion. Bass player/vocalist Kennedy Pawluk has the most incredible facial expressions and range of shrieks and sounds. The trio are always technically solid, with wild progressions and silly lyrics, adding a sense of humour to their shows.
That evening at the Needle, Times Tide took the stage and delivered an emotional and passionate performance. Vocalist Colten Reid would sit down in the midst of instrumental chaos to take a sip of his beer and pause before continuing to wail furiously into the mic.
The crowd at this show was rather unresponsive, something that can’t be said often in the wake of a hardcore show. It was bizarrely quiet in between songs, even when fill in frontman for Run with the Hunted, John Kennedy, attempted to rile everyone up. Vancouver’s World View stepped it up a notch and things got even more heated during Etown Beatdown, who are incredible at engaging the audience. Ed Trela is a dynamic frontman, who noticeably energized the room before Trapped Under Ice.
Once Baltimore’s Trapped Under Ice began to play, the room plumped up nicely and folks started to get more into it. Despite knocking out hits from the new album like “Do It,” the crowd had an odd vibe the entire evening. The band played an extremely short set, which left several people wanting more as they grumbled out of the venue and into the night.
Catching Dan Deacon at the Starlite Room was a welcome experience after the less than satisfying time at the Needle. Missing the first few songs didn’t seem to be a problem as a human tunnel quickly formed outside the venue. Without question, obviously BeatRoute hopped in and waited for the right time to run through the tunnel into the venue to see what was going on inside. Dan Deacon is a master facilitator of parties, as we witnessed last night. In between whimsical dance tracks, he divided the room in half, chose a leader of each side, and watched from the stage as the room erupted in a hilariously fun follow-the-leader style dance off. Other games ensued as the night progressed and we were left in the highest of spirits thanks to this gem from Baltimore.
Sunday, October 8
Despite a massive rave at the Shaw Conference Centre and bellies full of family dinners, the last night of Up + Downtown Festival was bustling. Well, mostly. The Needle Vinyl Tavern was host to a slinky Hospitality Records show put together with the help of the local United Bass Kollective (UBK). Before 11pm, it was almost like a high school dance, with an empty dance floor and people pushed to the sides of the room. A bummer, as the music was bouncy, sexy and accompanied by visuals of goats and teddy bears.
We took a break to pop into Rocky Mountain Ice House to see TUNS, side project of Sloan’s Chris Murphy. Although the music itself was basic feel good Canadian rock, Murphy’s personality shined, making quick and clever comments about the DJ’s choice to play Sloan before their set and other little quips. The show was packed with Sloan nerds, nervously clamoring for Murphy’s attention; but not in an obnoxious manner. The endearment of serious fans in the audience fed into TUNS’ performance, energizing those of us who may have been feeling sluggish from a weekend of festivities. That, and their cover of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” were welcome ways to close the fifth year of the festival.
Over at Brixx, a last minute schedule change had been made to reschedule local hero Cadence Weapon. The multi-hypenate musician had been forced to cancel his show scheduled for the previous tonight, but his massive stage presence proved he was more than worth the wait. (CG)
Next door, at the Needle, the party was finally in full swing as security guards hesitantly allowed hula hoops in to see DJ Marky and Metrik. The room was bouncy and full of bright, smiling faces. A junglists’ dream night rounded out the third and final day of Up + Downtown.Alan Cross, Cadence Weapon, Dan Deacon, Dead Fibres, DJ Marky, Etown Beatdown, Feminal Fluids, Flatfoot 56, Hospital Records, Metrik, Ricky Gervais, Run the Hunted, Sloan, Times Tide, Trapped Under Ice, TUNS, United Bass Kollective, Up + Downtown Fest, Up + Downtown Festival