Best of the west
Despite a lacking audience, the festival was still a success
On Oct. 4 and 5, Calgary played host to some of Western Canada’s greatest musical talent for Breakout West — an intensive two-day music festival/conference that showcases the best the west has to offer.
Unfortunately, the Breakout West festival was not the commercial success that the organizers were hoping for. But for only $20 you received a wristband capable of giving you access to 60 bands and artists — playing in the 15 different venues throughout Calgary. It was impossible to see them all, however with a well-planned schedule, a person could easily catch between 10-12 bands.
Access to all this amazing home-grown talent at such a low price should have had the participating bars and clubs filled to the rafters with music fans, however the first act of the night would hardly have an audience of 10, and by the time the headliner came on, the venues were still well below max capacity. With or without a large audience, the two-night music festival was definitely a success for those who attended.
With reasonably nice weather that weekend, walking between venues allowed for Breakout attendees to catch more bands at more venues.
One of the highlights from Friday night was Mise En Scene – a Manitoban band who just finished their first European tour. If their shows are normally anything like their Breakout West performance, their fan base surely must be fast growing. They have an indie-rock sound with amazing vocals from front-woman Stefanie Blondal Johnson. Dummer Jodi Dunlop is certainly no slouch either. Though only a duo, Johnson and Dunlop were more than enough Mise en Scene to keep audiences engaged.
A second mentionable band from the Royal Canadian Legion Legion’s #1 Friday night lineup is Wool on Wolves, an Albertan band that you may recognize from this summer’s Folk Fest. They are a highly talented group capable of performing blazing alternative-rock, and then slowing it right down to a flowing folk sound.
Republik on Saturday night had a great middle-of-the-night folk lineup with Good for Grapes and Shred Kelly.
Good for Grapes is a Vancouver folk-rock band that has achieved a special level of on-stage chemistry. All of that energy transfered onto the audience as well, making for an amazing set. Shred Kelly brought in some very original folk music to the show utilizing both a keyboard and banjo with both female and male vocals. Their upbeat tracks make sure that you couldn’t help but dance along and have fun doing it.
But as good as these bands were, the bulk of the hype was about the closing band, Five Alarm Funk.
There are many genres of music, but not one of these can fully apply to Five Alarm Funk. The group is made up of 11 members that play a variety of instruments – including conga drums and a trombone. They make phenomenal live dance music, and were a perfect ending to Breakout West.