ShrEdmonton festival focuses on regional talent
ShrEdmonton presents an intimate three days of regional metal bands
Let’s be very clear: despite the jagged name, ShrEdmonton is here to help you, not hurt you.
Festival organizer Tyson Travnik notes repeatedly the three-day metal showcase and conference is all about giving a boost to regional bands hoping to hit the next level, at the same time energizing audiences and keeping the steadfast metal family strong, relevant and clasping fists like Klingons full of Red Bull.
“We’re trying to cross that bridge between people having to pay a lot of money to go to shows like Iron Maiden and showcase bands happening right here in our backyard,” says Travnik, 30. Simple enough.
At $50 for a weekend pass to see 16 bands and the industry showcase, the Friday-thoughSunday event at the perfect little box of the Mercury Room (10575 114 St.) is a ridiculously good deal.
The blood-and-steel buffet includes Vancouver’s female-led Unleash the Archers, Winnipeg’s Psychotic Gardening, Edmonton horror-metal Blëed — and don’t forget Eye of Horus, Leave the Living, Voltang and 10 other wide-ranging worshippers of furious sound.
There’s a free sampler album, in fact, at the festival’s site. In the words of the ancient ones: “Play it loud, mutha!”
This is technically ShrEdmonton’s second year — but it’s spiritually the fifth, having evolved seamlessly from three years of the Farmageddon Open Air Metal Fest.
Travnik and his crew are clever survivors, shape-shifting through various challenges, learning as they go along.
The organizer, drummer for Minax then Iron Storm, is also running the soundboard during the event. Wait, a drummer who’s a soundman — did he use proper ear protection?
“Absolutely,” he laughs as we get into it.
Q Tell us what ShrEdmonton is all about.
A We started off doing Farmageddon Open Air Metal Fest to help promote some of the local metal bands in western Canada — some of them are starting to come to light on a global scale. Also, one of the biggest things against us is metal fans are seen as troublemakers, even though we have no problem when you compare us to country music festivals and things like that. We’re trying to change that idea.
Q Whoa, that’s funny — back in the day, there was this kind of Tipper Gore backlash against metal. There’s still a stigma? That seems to be such a mid’80s thing.
A No, there absolutely is. But we’ve had no issues at all — it took us about half an hour to clean up the entire (Farmageddon) festival grounds with volunteers. People come for the music.
Q Why did you take Farmageddon inside last year?
A The overhead is much less. We were going to do it as a biennial thing with the Open Air Fest, but the economy hasn’t quite turned around yet, and we want to stay active.
Q How did you pick the bands?
A We tried to focus on the bands that work the hardest — bands that are staying relevant in the scene, with proven track records. A lot of the metal scene is still pretty underground. If we bring in Cannibal Corpse, yes, we’ll bridge that gap and get people in just to see them. However, we scaled our budget down this year and are really trying to focus on providing a really intimate and high calibre setting.
Q I’m interested in the industry conference, the panels, can you talk about those, who’s on them?
A Everything from Tim Waterson, he’s from Edmonton, at one point the world’s fastest double bass player, to guitar and bass clinics, a vocal clinic from Unleash the Archers, a recording clinic by myself and a few of the other tech around the area — everything from promotion and how to get into festivals, what they’re looking for. We learned last year what people were interested in and geared it specifically for the bands that want to take it one step further.
Q Let’s talk about the headliners. What do you like about Unleash the Archers?
A I’m a power metal guy, so they’re my personal favourites. I was a sound tech on one of their first shows here and they blew me away. They’ve really blown up lately, put a ton of work into all their own material. Any success they get they deserve; that’s really the point of this festival, to highlight bands who are crossing that gap from a hobbyist band to a full-time professional band.
Q Psychotic Gardening?
A They’re from Winnipeg and headlined the first Farmageddon, so I decided to make it a complete circle and bring them back. To this day, that is one of the coolest musical experiences I ever had — it was late at night, cool enough at night but hot enough during the day, that all this steam rose out of the grass, four fog machines on full tilt. They’re kind of doomy death metal, the tempos aren’t
super fast, but the playing is fast. They’re rad.
Q OK, and the local boys, Blëed, all covered in blood …
A They’ve been friends of mine for quite a while. In the last couple of years, they’ve jumped that extra rung to be one of the top bands in the city. It’s the entire show. It’s cool to have a band like that, especially on the all-ages day. I wanted to try to have a band with this horror thing and still be able to show people who want to bring their kids, especially if they’re new to the scene, and see that these guys are entertainers. They’re the nicest guys when you talk to them after — but on stage they’re hilarious, just a total freak show.
Vancouver power metal band Unleash the Archers is playing ShrEdmonton on Saturday at the Mercury Room.