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Rockfest 2016 Day One – Nostalgia Edition



Another year of Amnesia Rockfest shenanigans has come and passed, and what a year it was. The 11th edition of Montebello, Quebec’s two day festival was jam packed with hugs, tears, fights, and couriously enough, a panda suit here and there.

This year was especially a treat for anyone who identifies with the music of the 90s. Bands like Sum 41, who most never (like myself) thought they’d ever get to see on stage again, and The Used, MarkSingingtreated fans to energy filled sets that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

The first day was a force to be reckoned with. A day that I can honestly say, only had a couple disappointments, which unfortunately, both go to the members of Blink 182. Travis Barker having to cancel his solo set was quite disappointing, but seeing such a beloved band (Blink 182) put on such a disappointing set in the headlining slot, was far more dispiriting. While many Blink fans are accepting of Matt Skiba of Akaline Trio taking the place of Tom Delonge, supporters still expect to see a lively set when they head out to one of their shows. This was nothing of the sorts. Skiba was not charismatic with the crowd on any level, and the connection between him and Mark Hoppus was non-existent. Although Barker put on his usual high-powered performance, it did not pull away from the lack of emphasis put forth by the frontmen. Despite the lack of energy and enthusiasm, it’s always great to hear Blink 182 play live, and there were just as many pleased crowd members as there were disappointed, if not more.

The amount of bands to see on the first day of Rockfest 2016 had people running from one stage to the next, not wanting to miss a moment. The day started off with an astoundingly dynamic set by the Creepshow. The crowd was just as involved with the set as the band was with the crowd, and what else could you really ask for to kick off such an electric festival?


Other highlights of the day were sets from Against Me!, The Used, Mustard Plug, Sum 41, Billy Talent, and Korn. Laura Jane Grace brought a unique, wild, and incomparable performance to the Budweiser stage mid-day, with a presence to match the scorching heat. Against Me! has a way with their fans, and there is no mistaking the chemistry between bandmates there. Thrashing through their hits, old and new, they connected with the crowd to the point where you could see tears running down faces from left to right.

Unsurprisingly, the only band to leave the stage in shambles, throwing instruments array and jumping around like crazy, was The Used. Celebrating 15 years, the band was clearly ecstatic to be in the presence of so many loyal fans. A circle pit competition was inevitable, but they also stopped mid-way through their set to tell the crowd to be thankful for what they’ve got, take care of each other, and give the person beside them a hug. Looking out onto a crowd of drunk, sweaty music fans hugging it out after throwing each other around in a mosh pit is almost descriptive of the festival itself.


Of course, Brampton’s Billy Talent, never disappoints. The band is known for getting the crowd wild, and who could be surprised with Benjamin Kowalewicz’s energizer bunny-esque live persona.

Another Canadian favourite, Ajax’s Sum 41, came back with a vengeance. After years apart the band came to the stage with a couple new members, but the same outstanding, adrenaline fueled act. Die-hard fans were lined up long before the show, and the crowd was seemingly entranced. With all of the trials and tribulations that the band has faced over the past few years, people could not have been happier to welcome them back to the stage, and it was more than evident that the band was just as ecstatic to be back. Deryck Whibley overcame a serious addiction to alcohol, survived organ failure, and came back to give us his all on stage. What a recovery it was too, it’s quite the inspiration to see such a miraculous turn around for a man who had such a heavy influence on a generation.

All in all, day one of Rockfest 2016 was a blast from the past, a nostalgia filled trip through the sounds of an extremely angsty generation. Crowd surfers were a plenty, fists were pumping, and the screaming fans must have been audible from three towns away.


Totemic – Nightfall – Song Premiere


Continuous Cycle EP Cover

In a sea of Canadian laptop jockeys all chasing “the dream” the electronic drum and bass music Totemic makes stands out because of the combination of exotic, lax and anxious vibes all braiding together. Incorporating violin at shows during his live mixes has assured Totemic spots at many of Canada’s notable electronic festivals including Harvest, All Stars, OM and Solstice, where he’s played alongside Daega Sound, The Funk Hunters, Gremlinz, Whitebear and DJ Madd.

Musical mastermind Doug Penny has teamed up with us to release “Nightfall” the concluding track from Totemic’s Continuous Cycle EP available everywhere July 7. Check out the track and catch him live on June 25 for Solstice Gathering 2016 in Singhampton, Ontario and in Victoria, BC with Deep Space on July 15.

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The BallRoom Babies release “I Won’t Change” video


Photo by Jonny Tragic

Ladies and Gentlemen, rockers of all ages, “I Won’t Change” is a song that embodies the essence of rock and roll. Badass and delinquent in the best of ways, Mississauga’s own The BallRoom Babies’ latest single is sure to have audiences grooving to the sultry blues rhythms and face-melting guitar solos. Reminiscent of the great Jimi Hendrix, this musically-epic trio of brothers brings their melodies alive with loud and harmonious vocals that stay in perfect balance with their instruments.

The brothers have even dropped an awesome video to go along with the single. In it, Mike (drums/vocals), Steve (guitar/vocals) and Nathan (bass/vocals) prove just how incredibly talented they are. Although the video has a bit of a lengthy start, it is worth the watch just to giggle at the subtle allusion to a Canadian beverage icon. Without further ado…

For fans who love the track and want more, you can catch The BallRoom Babies live at several festivals this summer:

June 17 – Beach BBQ & Brews Festival, Toronto
June 18 – Cherry Cola’s, Toronto
June 25 – Woodstock Rib Fest, Woodstock
July 2 – Georgina Rib Fest, Goergina
July 9 – Thomas Rib Fest, Saint Thomas
July 16 – Milton Rib Fest, Milton
July 29 – Hamilton Food Festival, Hamilton
August 7 – Ajax Rib Fest, Ajax
August 13 – Gage Park Rib Festival, Hamilton
August 19 – Georgetown Rib Festival, Georgetown
August 28 – Orillia Rib Festival, Ontario

NXNE 2016 what you need to know


NXNE 2016 – the festival of many lands – June 13-19

There is the Port Lands, Club Land, Game Land and Furture Land. With no radius clause, no application fees for performers and specifically curated performances, NXNE is heading back to it’s roots with some twists.

Each event is individually ticketed and features some unique line ups with special help from local promotion company Collective Concerts (owners of The Horseshoe Tavern and Lee’s Palace).

There is a strong emphasis on Hip Hop with acts such as Schoolboy Q, Ghostface Killah and Tenor Saxophonist Kamasi Washington who has played with Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Snoop Dogg and Flying Lotus.

“The world is looking at Toronto right now for hip-hop — we are literally one of those moments,” he says. “Liverpool in the ’60s, Detroit in the ’70s, Manchester in the ’80s, Seattle in the ’90s — Toronto right now is a musical epicentre. And I don’t see a huge reflection of that in what I’m seeing booked around me. And I saw that with total respect for the colleagues in the business. I think we’re going to really highlight this moment in time in Toronto.” Told festival Director Michael Hollett to Exclaim in March of this year.

Title sponsor Budweiser is predictable but there are some other not so common ones such as Express 111 Fifth Ave. NYC, Daniels WJ Poperties and Travel Texas, in conjunction with NXNE’s long standing partnership with SXSW no doubt.

Overall the entire festival is looking like one giant experiment. Where should you go and how do you get in?

Things you need to know:

1. Portlands
Located in a parking lot near the building formerly known as Sound Academy, the exact address for Portlands is 51 Commissioners Street off Cherry Street.  There will be live music (approx. 8 acts per day) June 17 & 18 until 11pm.  There will be art installations, craft beer options and food trucks.  TTC will have extra buses on, UBER has agreed to some special Valet services and there is a huge parking area. The price is $99.50 GA or $64.50 each day.   VIP options are also available.

2. The conference is only 1 day
Known as Future Land, the conference portion of the festival takes place on June 15 at Ryerson University’s Faculty of Communication & Design (Ted Rogers School Of Management 80 Gould Street).   There are sessions throughout the day but the main speaker is Nolan Bushnell founder of Atari and Chuck E Cheese. The focus of Future Land is to bring awareness to musicians about the gaming industry and the many potential money making avenues within that industry.   Tickets are $80 and there are no delegate passes.

3.  The are still club shows
There is still an impressive list of club shows going on, in what’s been labelled Club Land.  Tickets range from $13.50 for up and comer indie acts to Jazz/Hip hop cult crossovers like Kamasi Washington who are selling for $29-$49.   Who’s playing when and where?

4.  YDS is still a thing
Known as Game Land, the website claims that YDS will be “the biggest E-Sports event ever in Canada.”   What the heck does that even mean?  Well…from June 16-18 there will be live gaming on the big screen and some lucky fans will have a chance to play against Celebrity Gamers.    Who exactly are these Celebrity Gamers?  We still don’t know, but Damian Abraham from Fucked Up is scheduled to be there.   There will also be unknown bands playing at certain times throughout the day.  This might be a good chance to discover some hidden gems.

 5.  There are no wristbands
“We don’t want people stuck on the sidewalk with a pass.” explains festival director Michael Hollett on a phone call with The Scene.   “When we did Future Islands at The Tattoo in 2014, a lot of people who paid for wristbands were unable to get in, due to capacity.  We don’t wanna misrepresent who we are and what we are offering.  So this year each event is ticketed.  Which means if you buy a ticket, you are going to get in.”

Still no word on whether or not there will be some secret all access badge available to insiders.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for a chance to win a pair of passes to Port Lands.


Familiar Wild – We Better Run – Single Review



Not often does a band’s name and their music seem to have so much in common. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Familiar Wild is inspired by the well-known, yet sometimes threatening, urban environment of the cities that have cut a swath through the lush and tempestuous landscapes surrounding their region. Recognizing that surviving in the urban labyrinth is often akin to surviving in the dense forests, Familiar Wild’s music captures the melodies of the wild and brings them forth into civilization.

This interweaving of environments is in the forefront of the latest single “We Better Run”. The track is just a taste of what audiences can expect on the upcoming album Things We Forgetset for release this fall.

Feeling like you are slowly stalking along the hot and heavy sidewalks of a city, “We Better Run” begins subtly with soft pulsating electronic rhythms. The song then morphs into a vocal and electronic effect, reminiscent of blaring sirens wailing past. The lyrics then begin with the unsettling “We better run / We better run / From this city on the hunt” and suddenly the urban landscape feels dangerous and intimidating. The increase in the beat feels like it’s on the verge of breaking into an all out run, and audiences may feel themselves on edge, awaiting the bursting climax of the song. But Familiar Wild keeps it going with an entrancing rhythm and melody, slowly mesmerizing and lulling listeners into a false sense of safety. Then when the song abruptly ends, listeners are left with a slight feeling of apprehension, not wanting to breath or move, just in case.

“We Better Run” comes out on June 12, and if it is just a preview of what audiences can expect from Familiar Wild’s upcoming album then listeners should be very excited to hear what awaits on Things We Forget.

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