Big Winter Classic embraces a chilly season
The festival brings international and local bands together for some mid-winter fun
Calgary in the winter definitely isn’t where you want to be. Nobody likes the cold weather, the terrible road conditions, or how very far January seems to be from the summer months. January bodes the start of a new semester for students, and is the centre of (mostly) everybody’s least favourite season.
Yet there is a light in the darkness. While most festivals are in their early planning stages, waiting out the winter, Big Winter Classic has stepped up to the plate to give us a glimmer of festival season.
As the website so eloquently says, “it’s like a really, really fun party… in the middle of winter.” It’s exactly what Calgary needs, especially when it’s -20 degrees outside. The festival will bring five stages around Calgary together from Jan. 19-22, with acts like Said The Whale, Holy Fuck, Tuns, Joey Cape, and more.
Calgarians know how to party, and apparently, the party doesn’t stop when it gets cold. The lineup of over 50 acts will take place at three different venues – Last Best Brewing & Distilling, Broken City, and Dickens Pub. Last Best and Broken City have two stages each, one on their main floors and one outside. No, you didn’t hear it wrong. The festival is hosting two outdoor stages, embracing the cold rather than retreating from it.
But the cold isn’t the only fascinating thing about Big Winter Classic. The talent ranges from international acts to Calgary based bands, which talent director B.J. Downey says is the driving force behind the entire festival.
“I think it’s the locals that really make this festival,” Downey tells the Calgary Herald. “It’s a small festival, on the grand scheme of things, so to have a lot of Alberta bands, that’s like the muscle behind the machine.”
Said the Whale, one of the bigger names on the lineup, is a Vancouver based indie-pop band that is touring and working toward releasing new music. Their recently released single, “Step into the Darkness”, is the first release on their upcoming album As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide. Including the indie band is a smart move by the festival, as Said the Whale produces interesting, consumable music that will likely draw new attendees.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, Joey Cape is headed to Calgary to warm up the crowds with his own personal brand of folksy punk-rock. His last album release, Stitch Puppy, was a solo project that showed a very human side of the experienced musician. Jamming since 1989, Cape has involved himself in many projects, including Californian punk-rock band Lagwagon.
Out of town names aren’t all Big Winter Classic has to offer. The number of local bands playing the festival are large, including familiar names like Bad Animal, All Hands on Jane, The Ashley Hundred, Lab Coast, Lunar Wilde, The Torchettes, and many more.
If great music isn’t alluring enough, last year’s beer lineup was nearly as impressive. With Calgary’s booming brewing industry, it can only be expected that this year brings even more. Expect names like Wild Rose, Tool Shed, Village and Big Rock. If anything can brighten up an otherwise dark winter day, it’s good beer and even better music.
Big Winter Classic runs from Jan. 19-22. Tickets are available on their website, with both individual day options and weekend passes.