By Michael Grondin
CALGARY – There was love in the air at this year’s Femme Wave, a celebration of art, music and knowledge by women, femmes, and non-binary folks from Canada and beyond.
This third-annual festival prides itself on being one of the most accepting and progressive four-day parties ever thrown in downtown Calgary. With over 30 bands, a plethora of visual artists, film and panels at 12 of Calgary’s venues, Femme Wave’s third year has seen the festival really come into its own.
CALGARY – Kicking things off at Commonwealth on Thursday night was an eclectic mixture of comedy and experimentally-tinged music from Dark Time, something of a new-ish, local supercrew of rad musicians making celestial, synth-soaked indie madness.
Then we got to witness Future Womb, a dreamy melange of ukulele-beach-gaze fused with punchy beats and and flowery rhythms.
And finally, the always wonderful, always unexpected and always colourful soft cure took to the stage with clowns, balloons and make-up, shredding away at their fuzzy, grungy, washed out bedroom pop.
Friday night’s Block Party at Emmedia and TRUCK Gallery carried a more relaxed vibe than the previous night, and featured every aspect of the festival’s programming, including a loop of short films in Emmedia’s screening room, and group art exhibition, Behind Our Eyelids, at TRUCK Gallery’s U-Haul space (on display until December 9th)
In TRUCK’s main space, Saskatoon-based Ursa kicked off the night with a dreamy ambient set punctuated with Angela Davis soundbites and set against a backdrop of self-made projections.
Closing out the night was former-Calgarian and recent Victoria transplant, Daisy D, barefoot and spinning house music that ended the night with everyone dancing.
Part of the All-Ages Saturday Show Crawl, McHugh House — CJSW’s new local hot spot for all ages shows —showcased a eclectic and varied show from bands across the prairies. The colourfully lit room was packed as Lethbridge’s Mom Bod blasted into their quirky punk-rock anthems. Silence took over as the prolific yet understated respectfulchild (Saskatoon, SK) hypnotized the house with their looped violin soundscapes that shook walls and made imaginations run wild. Then, the adorable and bittersweet lo-fi sounds of Winnipeg pop-punkers Mulligrub brought the Femme Wave venue-hoppers back up to a hyped, melancholic height.
Down the street at Tubby Dog, three no-bullshit punk-rock acts shook Calgary’s beloved hot dog restaurant. Locals HARSH exploded into their technicolour rage. Chunder Buffet, the slimy, post-punk aggressors from Saskatoon, threw Tubby in a cesspool of grime and melody. And to cap it off before the Femme Wave Funhouse, Feminal Fluids, the no-fucks-given-patriarchy-killing-machine-guns from Edmonton, attacked with their relentless punk-rock insanity to the multi-age audience, that screamed along to their war cry.
The Femme Wave Funhouse at the Royal Canadian Legion was an evening of eye-opening, emotional conversation, fuelled by a diverse range of musical styles and passionate people.
The Babyfats out of Saskatoon supercharged the Legion’s upstairs with their punchy, riot girl beach blasts as eager Femme Wavers shook the floor. The celestial soundscapes of Calgary/Toronto performer Tigerwing took the legion to a whole other planet with colourful beats and un-easing yet beautiful high-tech mastery. Back upstairs, the oh so charming, oh so heart warming, oh so raw glory of young local, lo-fi legend Slut Prophet took Femme Wavers into her honestly hilarious world of thrashy-guitar laden narratives. Transporting us into booty-shaking soul was the bouncy, lush hip hop of local Sinzere Sings and her multi-talented backing band The Late Nights, which had the all-smiling Legion downstairs grooving along.
The dance party kept booming as Edmonton powerhouse producer Hood Joplin spun a crazy mix of beats, hip-hop, footwork and club bangers before the dreamy sunshine-psych of San Diego’s Soft Lions melted hearts for the last upstairs performance of the evening.
Finally, New York rapper and festival headliner, Sammus, blew everyone’s minds with her hyper-real approach, brutally honest anecdotes and freshly squeezed beats, and had Femme Wave grooving while simultaneously bouncing between every emotion imaginable. Taking us on a journey of her struggles, hopes, ambitions and beliefs, this intergalactic bounty hunter was a perfect cap to a heart-warming night, and an (inter)stellar plateau to an inspiring weekend.