So, with BreakOut West and École Connaught’s one-hundredth anniversary music and arts festival, there was an unfathomable amount of awesome music this past weekend here in Regina.
My weekend began at City Square Plaza at about 5:00 PM, where I caught Foam Lake. From what I remember, their set was good. Apparently, I made a note in my phone that I wish I had a blanket. The details are still pretty hazy, so bear with me.
Said the Whale was up next on the plaza, and definitely the best part about their set was when one of the members explicitly described the next song as being about his grandfather picking wildflowers and thinking about the finer things in life, and then proceeded to sing opening line, “My grandfather picks wildflowers at the top of the hill”. Glad that was laid out explicitly beforehand because I’m not sure if I could have picked up on that. Another highlight from the Vancouver quintet’s set when one of the members said, “This one’s dedicated to everyone”. Touching.
In all seriousness though, Said the Whale played a tight show, and guitarist/vocalist Tyler Bancroft had time to talk with the Carillon, despite the fact that the band “literally just got here, like three hours ago”. He was happy with how the set went, despite the fact that “the crowd seemed like it was getting warmed up for the weekend. Hopefully, things get drunker as the weekend progresses”.
“Regina’s got some amazing bands; Library Voices, Rah Rah’s putting out a new record, which I can almost guarantee you is going to be on the shortlist for the Polaris Prize because it’s that good,” said Bancroft.
And speaking of those bands, Library Voices were up next on the plaza. The succulent smell of smoked meat from the food truck next to me wafted into my nostrils and fueled my excitement as a roadie carried a floor tom across the stage like Moses descending from Sinai, and what seemed like the entire Cathedral Village neighbourhood began filing onto the stage.
When all of the members finally gathered on stage, Library Voices did what they’re known best for — playing an hour’s worth of catchy pop songs that’ll be stuck with you likely for the rest for the rest of the evening. After Library Voices wrapped up their set, it was time for a brief refuel at home, and then it was off to the Club to catch Belle Plaine.
Her set went went off unblemished, and regardless of a few pre-show nerves, she said her set was “a lot of fun”.
“I was nervous at the beginning because you have that idea in your head of who’s in the room or who might be in the room, and so you kind of want to nail it. But, then it just became about hanging out with my friends and playing … it really got to the right place by the second song and stayed there,” said Plaine.
“I think we have a wonderfully diverse ecosystem of music here, and I’m really proud of what’s happening here in Saskatchewan.” – Belle Plaine
Despite being in and out of conferences for the day, Belle Plaine still said she had time to see “acts on the periphery”, but most of her day was “spent listening to the elders of the music industry tell us whatever wisdom they would impart … It’s generally war stories from the panels. They’re like, ‘Don’t do this, and don’t take off your clothes’. Check”.
Moreover, the Regina songwriter commented on what it means to have a festival like BreakOut West happen in Regina.
“I think we have a wonderfully diverse ecosystem of music here, and I’m really proud of what’s happening here in Saskatchewan. I’m really happy that this is happening here because I think Regina has grown since a lot of these bands have come into being, and there are more venues for them to play at. I’m hoping that this weekend brings to attention all of the new and wonderful things we have going on around town right now,” said Plaine.
Originally, I had planned to go back to the Artesian right after Belle Plaine’s set, but I swung over next door to the Exchange just in time to catch the start of Slow Down, Molasses’ set, and I’m quite glad I did.
Not only did I see yet another band play sixty minutes of solid tunes, but they were giving away free flexi disc copies of their new single. No, I don’t think flexi discs are obsolete, but keep in mind I work in print media.
Once Slow Down, Molasses finished, I headed to my final venue for the night, the Artesian, and I arrived just in time to see JP Hoe. Due to the nature of JP Hoe’s music, the show was much less energetic than most of the sets I had seen thus far, but it was a nice refresher considering I’d been immersing myself in live music (and the subsequent partying that accompanies it) for six hours, and frankly, I needed the break if I planned to go hard for another two bands after JP Hoe.
Vancouver’s Rococode followed JP Hoe, and after that it was time to finish off the night with one of the few country acts I can get behind, The Lonesome Weekends. Expectedly, the show was awesome other than some idiot lambasting my friend and I for standing (and only my friend and I, notwithstanding the entire crowd of people gathered in front of the stage), but fuck us for standing and dancing at live music, right?
Anyways, the Weekends finished their set at about 2:00, and shortly thereafter I collapsed on my bed, exhausted and thrilled from the days’ events.
The day prior was good, but I was particularly excited for Saturday. Any day you get to see The Lazy MKs or Rah Rah is generally a pretty awesome day, but a truly great day is when you get to see both The Lazy MKs and Rah Rah, let alone both bands for free. Saturday was such a day.
The Lazy MKs’ set was unfortunately short, but they did play their cover of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, and Etienne Soulodre not only played one hell of a harmonica solo during it, but then proceeded to play pedal steel guitar with his harmonica.
The next band on the itinerary was Rah Rah who, needless to say, rocked the fuck out of that tent in the meager little field of Connaught school. After some apologies by a few of the members to their former teachers, the Regina six-piece played a set which can be summed up as a conglomeration of balloons, new songs, sunglasses, old songs, and confetti.
I had planned to walk over to O’Hanlon’s following Rah Rah’s set and see who was playing there, but within little time of sitting on my friend’s couch, I was asleep. Seeing live music is an exhilarating thing to do, but god damnit can it be exhausting — not just the physical aspect of standing and dancing all night, but blasting one’s brain with excessively loud music is mentally tiring.
As much as I would have loved to go see what else was going on that night, I still think I capitalized on the weekend. Not often does one get to see ten bands, let alone some of the best bands in Western Canada, for a total of $20. Really though, one could have stayed at any one venue (or changed venues after every set) and had a blast.