CKUW’s Robin Eriksson was at UP+DT  in Edmonton this past weekend. Read all about it!

Daniel and Victoria picked up Nolan and I close to 6 p.m., only 20 minutes later than our anticipated departure time. The rain finally tapered off and once we hit Saskatchewan the northern lights danced along the horizon.  By midnight we were looking to stop for the night.  I think we tried seven different motels along the highway before securing a room in Dundurn, Saskatchewan.  A few towns before Dundurn, we’d driven away relieved that nobody answered the doorbell at what we’d deamed The Bates Motel.  The only sign of life was the silhouette of a dead cat in the office window.  

Friday, my Festival cohorts and I headed to the Solidarity Rock Presents show at Brixx. When we walked in, I was surprised to see ‘Tall Brian’ on the drums for Vibes (Daniel, Victoria, and I had done a two-hour radio fill-in at CJSR 88.5 fm earlier that day and he was the host on air before us). Between acts we popped upstairs to the Starlite Room, which as far as venues go was an incredible space; spacious high ceilings, warehouse brick walls, a towering stage and great sound. Psych rockers Chron Goblin were pumping the volume!  

Back downstairs, Adictox took the stage and of the two Cuban bands, they were my favourite. Their sound was pure energy.  Having listened to them on the web, I didn’t expect I would like them more than Arrabio, but I did.  D.O.A. topped the bill and it was hard not to want to stay to revisit my teenage youth with other old punks in the crowd, but Victoria and I were more determined to dance.  We walked the eight (plus) blocks to the Common, a squat basement venue with not much square footage.  Stage right, Nik 7 was finishing up a great DJ set.  Look stage left and imagine a white floor-to-ceiling sculpture, tumor shaped, puckered with pustules that lit up as the music pulsed. It easily wins weirdest stage decor I’ve ever seen.  Humans were set up in front of this and had the sold out crowd dancing.  It seemed unfortunate that Humans was just ramping up when they got the nod that time was up and had to announce they had two songs left.      

Saturday was gorgeous and after a stroll through downtown Edmonton’s farmer’s market, we headed to Beaver Hill House Park to check out some of the local electronic producer showcase. Daniel and I didn’t stay long because we wanted to catch an acoustic set by Mike McDonald and Joey Shithead at the Cask & Barrel. As luck would have it, the Cask & Barrel was packed so we were directed to go left around the bar.  We found a couple of seats on the cusp of the patio with a mediocre view of the stage. Mike McDonald’s set had me remini-singing along, and Joey Shithead had me marvelling at the speed at which he could still wail out a tune on guitar.    

Saturday night we were back at Brixx. Pyramid//Indigo, a local band, was added to the bill leaving me confused – their music was so ambient compared to what I was expecting, thinking it was Borys. Not knowing what Borys looked like, I thought he’d really changed direction from what I’d heard of his stuff online!  As it turns out, Borys is still making very danceable beat-driven electronic music. I danced!  

Again between sets, we popped up to the Starlite Room. It was full of people but not my scene. I was happy to get back downstairs to indulge in Jessica Moss. She played one 24-minute song that had me spellbound.  Later, gushing, I told her it was the shortest 24 minutes of my life!  In my mind it was tragic that the Starlite Room was packed while Jessica played gloriously and gorgeously to only a few of us below.

Jerusalem in My Heart is the musical project of Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and between the music he made, and the film that played behind him, I was enthralled, though ‘enthralled’ hardly expresses the beauty, anguish, yearning, horror, and catharsis that left me unable to move after his set.    

Sunday I was dead. I kinda predicted that in my Festival preview. It’s too bad but I’m not twenty-something anymore and someone needed to safely operate a motor vehicle at 7 a.m.   

(When I asked for Nolan’s opinion on the weekend, he said: It was a wonderful time. It was a magical time. It was a time we won’t soon forget.)

Robin Eriksson