2016 was a roller-coaster for many involved in the Edmonton music scene. Promoters had to deal with an unsteady Canadian dollar and fewer acts coming through the city. The trick was to discover new ways to grow business and local talents.
These three promoters are from different areas of the community, and spoke about their experiences during 2016.
John Kennedy, Starlite Room
Concert highlights of 2016
“I would say my own personal [favourites] is very similar to what the crowd favourites were. Propagandhi was definitely one, Millencolin, Choke, and The Flatliners. Leftover Crack, SNFU, Protest The Hero, Audio/Rocketry. A lot of good ones this year.”
Growing trends in 2016
“I listen to a lot of punk rock, so I think that punk rock is one of those things that kind of stays within its parameters. But there’s always experimental bands doing their thing.
The new wave of all the pop-punk bands like [The] Story So Far, Seaway and Like Pacific and Rarity and Coldfront. I think that’s going to be the next wave of music. Some of the older skate-punk bands, you don’t see too many kids under the age of 25 at those shows. Where this new kind of wave of pop-punk, you’re seeing younger kids come out to shows. Even though the shows are 18-plus, we’re getting a lot of calls from all ages kids wanting to come to the shows, which is cool.”
“Less tours came through this year, and I think that has … to do with the dollar. I noticed this year though that the quality of the tours have been really, really on a high level. A lot of great packages, a lot of bands interested in playing Edmonton because of how good the scene is. There’s so many people doing their part in supporting the scene. Everyone kind of has their own piece of the pie that they do, and our scene’s constantly evolving.”
“Fire Next Time, No Problem, Audio/Rocketry, A New Rhetoric, Worst Days Down and Royal Tusk are my local favorites,” Kennedy says. “The new Jimmy Eat World album is the 2016 record of the year. I really, really like them. It’s your classic melodic alternative punk. I really like that new Japandroids song that they put out [Near To The Wild Heart Of Life].”
Summing up 2016:
“It’s diverse, it’s great to accomplish something in a city that doesn’t get the amenities that a city like Vancouver or Toronto does. We’ve been able to put our stamp on music as a whole [with] Edmonton being an international stop. Some bands that tour the world will say ‘Edmonton’s one of my top five cities to play.’ That’s pretty rad.”
Viet Nguyen, Boodang
Concert highlights of 2016
“We held Pure this year, and we went with a different sound. This year we went with more trance and some big room, which did really well. Scream, we went with an EDM headliner as well, Zeds Dead, which moved from the bass sound to somewhat more eclectic sounding stuff,” Nguyen says. “I’m finding the tendency of people coming to the shows is they’re much more informed about the artist. And EDM sound is kind of making its way out right now, so we’re trying to find other ways to fill that void.”
“Honestly it’s been pretty good. The Swede Dreams guys are doing pretty well. They’re a young group of three guys that produce music out of Edmonton. They’ve been getting some good PR and their music has been put on a few labels as well. Obviously the Night Vision guys are great producers and great DJs as well. Other than that, the typical David Stone’s and Junior Brown’s, etcetera.”
Growth/decline in 2016
“It’s been pretty steady—a little bit of a decline. Otherwise fairly steady considering the province is in recession. We’ve been able to do shows that have been doing fairly well. The nightclub stuff has definitely slowed down a lot, but the big shows are still doing pretty well.”
Summing up 2016
“Better than 2015, for sure. The events have done better, the people attending the events seem to be a little bit more choosy of the events they’re going to, probably because of the money. I say overall a very decent year, not as big as obviously three or four years ago when we were doing massive two-day events.”
Orvillehavana Green, Tuffhouse Corp.
Highlights of 2016
“The Outlawz tour that came through, that was massive—based on I got to kick it with 2Pac’s guys on the anniversary [of 2pac’s death]. The music they’re doing is still original after all these years, and still touches the mind and body.
Drake was good [including] the opening acts that were touring with him. Roy Woods and DVSN and all them cats. They show the future of Canadian music and how good it is. Also, having two shows in the city gives a good urban spotlight on the city that the market is here, if it’s done properly.”
Developing trends in 2016
“The 808 [bass] is back, and that itself is outrageously wicked. The 808 didn’t really go anywhere but there’s a new version of it with an extra drop. It invoked a lot of older artists to come back and spit more.
One of the greatest trends that I see on a global scale is the return of conscious music. The mumble raps are gradually fading and the more conscious rap is coming forward. When I say conscious I mean the De La Soul’s, Tribe Called Quest, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Ab Soul. More sense is being put into the music, even on the R&B side with John Legend. That spins over into the local culture, where a lot of guys … are talking more politically.”
Local artists listened to in 2016
“Outside of my Tuffhouse guys, I listen to JusJrdn because he’s a unique style,” Green says. “I listen to the guys from Doom Squad at times, K-Riz I listen to at times. I try and keep a wide scope in the local scene, I give everything a chance until I see where it takes me. If it takes me on a journey, I’m with it.”
Growth/decline in 2016
“On the show side of things, it was a profitable year. Between the shows and events it’s grown. I feel like 2017 is going to be much stronger—in the sense that the wheels are being spinned in the right direction. Local music is going forward, I see a lot of greater things happening not just for me, but for the music scene in Alberta.”