Thursday, September 17, 2009

There's a first time for everything: Edmonton's Sonic Boom

A hot Saturday in September was the inaugural Sonic Boom festival in Edmonton. And I have to tell you, it was totally worth having to put up with the usual "first timer" kinks to go check it out. After figuring out where the hell the VIP entrance was, I hunkered down on a spot of wet grass with a piece of shitty pizza and waited for the face-melting rock to start. But it just didn't have the sweet, sweet view I assumed there was going to be, so as The Wet Secrets took the stage, I ventured out to brave the harsh concrete jungle.

The Wet Secrets are some seriously lovely Edmontonian talent, that I saw for the first time when they played at this year's Pride festival. I was instantly in love with their straight-forward story telling, and awesome costumes. The self-proclaimed homo-centric fuzz rockers are 2 parts hilarious and a whole-lot-of parts wicked.
There's something to be said about introducing songs. The "This is a song I wrote after my SO broke my heart and I was depressed for a while" trope is so tired... but when lead singer Lyle Bell leads into a track, people wanna hear it:

"This is song about having a roommate who hides cheeseburgers under their mattress. It's called 'Get Your Own Apartment'"

These guys are totes one of Edmonton's many gems, and I can't say loud enough, go check them out!!

Because all performances were from the main stage, I hunkered back to the grassy, shaded area while band USS got their gear in order. I ended up staying back for this set, but it was easily enjoyable from where I was. USS, to be totally blunt, kind of confused me. I mean, their sound was this intense mish-mash of Glitchy retro hip-hop and Indie rock + break beats and nu-metal vocals. Near the end of their set, up bubbled east coast influences. It was totally all over the map, yet still pretty cool.
I definitely appreciated the Street Fighter lift of "Sonic Boom" (one of Guile's power moves, for those who don't remember), even though it got a little overused. All in all, not my favourite band of the day, but for sure they were fun and energetic.


The next crew to hit the stage was Mississauga's Ill Scarlett. These guys did a great job of getting
the crowd going: I hadn't seen people headbanging in earnest in years, and this is the crew that started the crowd surfing. I've never been much of a fan of Reggae-Pop - I mean, I love Sublime as much as the next girl - but that's pretty much where my love begins and ends, so I can't really say how good or bad they were, since I wasn't paying that much attention. All I know is that the hardcore fans said they phoned this performance in. An unfortunate first introduction.


After locating burgers, corndogs and more beer, I hit the concrete to check out DJ Girl Talk. This was absolutely the most ill-fitting act of the whole day. And I am so glad for it. This mash-up artist brought a sullen crowd to life with and seamless blends of club-worthy dance tracks, oldies, hard rock, and million other genres. The dance pit that ensued brought out the clubbers,
the illicit drugs, and the disapproving looks of mothers
who accompanied their younger teens. I absolutely loved the gimmicky crowd pleasers (rolls of toilet paper attached to leaf blowers? Giant inflated pillows?) and the high-energy. Such a good call. I'd love to see him play again.


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Finally, it was time for the band I was really there to see: Metric. Their set was awesome, as
per usual. Emily wore yet another sweet, sweet
dress and encouraged us all to "rock [our] faces off", a request I was more than happy to oblige. Keeping in mind that Sonic (being an E-town radio station) is a little more mainstream than I'm used to, Emily and crew understandably stuck to the newer material. Tracks like "Gimme Sympathy" and "Help, I'm Alive". Was it a little bit of a bummer to not hear "Dead Disco"? Yes. But Metric is like my crack, and I'm generally happy with even a little hit.
Side-note: super duper thanks to Sonic's production Manager, who got my Metric vinyl signed by the band. Legitimately a fan-girl now. Yikes.


Either I was wiped from all the booze and heat and rocking my face off to the prior bands, or Franz Ferdinand was way more boring than I'd have guessed they were. You could see the stream of hispters and cool kids leaving shortly after this performance. Yeah. I'm phoning this one in.
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After this, I took off. I missed Alexis on Fire and Billy Talent. You're welcome.

Some small not-band-related, but festival-related notes:

Jason Mewes was the "host" and a serious waste of money. Thanks for the "Stay hydrated" PSAs, Mewes. So disappointing.
The VIP section ended up being a waste of money, as by 4pm, they were letting anyone with a wristband in. Boo-urns.
The festival drew a bigger crowd that Warped Tour did in Calgary this summer (11,000 vs 9,000). That was a little unexpected.
Taking Back Sunday didn't make it. Tear.

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