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Up+Downtown

Music festival held at unique venues on Thanksgiving weekend

Up + Downtown Music Festival is an Edmonton-made initiative that brings venues in the city’s core together for a holiday-weekend extravaganza. With an array of music genres offered throughout the three-day festival, attendees often find it hard to pick just one show to support. The best bet is to get an all-access pass to the entire lineup and venue hop on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

One downside to having a music festival take place in various venues within the same time frame is that you’ll end up missing an act you wanted to see. The other side of this aspect is that there are a lot of great shows you’ll want to attend. I was torn between the much-hyped U.S. Girls playing at the Needle, DIIV playing at the Starlite Room, and Sister Nancy playing at the Masonic Hall, all of whom held midnight sets on Friday night.

I ended up going for DIIV, a Brooklyn-based rock band, because I noticed a long-lost friend from Vancouver mount the stage with the band Summering earlier in the night. Summering is a west-coast band whose sound is a mix of shoegaze, psych-rock, and dreamy soundscapes. The fog machine blurred most photos I tried to take during the set, but the naked-eye visuals and sound met audience approval as a cheer would filter from the crowd between songs.

Most of the conversation I had with Summering afterwards steered away from music, and I was left with little to quote from except what was said in jest about the recent rotation of new members. Caton Diab, a newer recruit, joked, “We used to be a tall and handsome band, but now we’re mostly just handsome.”

The next day I decided to try something different and attended a Nerd Nite matinee in MacDougall Church. Nerd Nite usually takes place in the evening and facilitates learning with the consumption of alcohol. “It’s like Discovery Channel with beer” is their motto, according to the Nerd Nite website. But this time we were in the Lord’s house without any holy sacrament.

However, this did not deter the large crowd that gathered, probably in a state of post-brunch hangover, to listen to Dr. John Davis. Davis, a professor of physics, explained the mechanics of music through a keyboard of fire. By linking an iPhone piano app to the setup, the app’s tunes would make the fire dance up and down the keyboard scale. There were some complex formulas and graphs shown on the projector screen prior to the light show, explaining how gases like air are equal to liquids and how this fact equates to how sound from instruments travels through air.

The congregation came to geek out about the science of sound. All over downtown, other music fans gathered in droves to check out some of Edmonton’s diverse talent, mixed with internationally hyped sensations. I got excited thinking about where the festival could go in coming years as more venues pop up in the core. Allard Hall could be one of them.


Graphic courtesy of updt.