What: The Whistler Punk Festival
When: Saturday, August 9, 10 p.m.
It’s become the other F-word of the summer: festival. The Sea to Sky region has been a hotbed for large-scale musical events, with the inaugural Whistler Music Festival and Pemberton Festival held in late July, coupled with a few down in Squamish last weekend, and Kokanee Crankworx this week. And it doesn’t look like the fun is going to stop anytime soon.
A few members of the local punk music scene are also planning to host a smaller-scale evening of music this weekend at Merlin’s, though they’re hesitant to give their event the same “festival” label.
Jamie Weatherbie is the drummer for Slush, a long-time local band that has been wowing Whistler crowds since 1992.
“A lot of people think we’re just jumping on the whole bandwagon thing, selling it as a festival, but originally that was the full intent, a full day concert,” Weatherbie said. The plan was to hold one big show featuring 10 bands. But when Weatherbie discovered their venue, Merlin’s, had already planned to show the big UFC match the same evening, the organizers decided it was best to break the event up, allowing five bands to play on two separate nights, instead.
Weatherbie and his bandmates only recently decided to coordinate a show because they noticed the local punk scene had been a lot quieter since Lindsay Shedden, a local promoter, stopped coordinating the weekly Punk Night shows a few months ago.
“With Lindsay not doing so many shows now, the local bands kind of have to step it up and start putting on their own shows, or else they’re not going to play in Whistler anymore,” Weatherbie said. “We’re not going to sit around for four months and wait for a show.”
They also noticed that there wasn’t a lot of punk representation at any of the big music festivals that came to town this summer, aside from their own performance at Pemberton Festival and the pop-punk stylings of Bedouin Soundclash at Whistler Music Festival.
So they decided to take some initiative and organize their own show, inviting all of their favourite bands from the area and further abroad to come to Whistler.
“We’re just trying to bring all of our favourite bands from the Lower Mainland and B.C. area and have everyone that’s in a similar style of melodic skate punk style, and have all those bands play at once,” Weatherbie explained.
With five talented bands performing for a mere $10 cover, the evening is great value for any punk lovers’ money. This weekend’s show will feature the progressive punk of Fableway, a Victoria-based band, the Vancouver-based Raised by Apes, and Whistler’s own Black Collar Crowd, and of course, Slush. There has also been a slight change to the lineup on their original poster: Mute of Montreal wasn’t able to coordinate a West Coast tour, so they were replaced by the Vancouver-based band, Impeders of Progress. Slush is planning to film a video during the show, and the bands will be giving away CDs, too.
Organizers also plan to include a few more of their favourite punk performers in the second part of the event, which they hope to hold at the end of August.
None of these names sound overly familiar? Well, Weatherbie encourages people to head to the bands’ websites to have a quick listen beforehand.
“People can actually listen to a band and not just see a punk rock poster and say, ‘oh, they’re just crap,’ to give people the option to listen to the bands that are playing and realize they’re actually really good bands and it’s worth coming to check them out,” he said.
So far, Weatherbie said the response to the show has been great, and they’re hoping for a solid crowd, especially since lots of people will be in town for Crankworx.
Weatherbie hopes the event will remind people of the range of great music available, both within Whistler and further abroad, and help to promote the local punk scene.