Sask. music reigns supreme at this year’s BreakOut West
Ask anyone in attendance at this year’s BreakOut West: Calgary knows how to party. Packing the venues full of industry delegates, along with the usual creeps and weirdos, the city-wide event took its cues from the usual urban festival blueprint – people running between stages in a mad dash to catch as many bands as they can while consuming drinks everywhere they go.
Of the two nights, Saturday was definitely the night to party, and The Palomino was the place to be with bands playing on both levels of the venue.
Calgary’s Napalmpom unleashed a set of full-throttle party rock mixed with stoner bro jams that ended with half of the members writhing on the floor. Please come to Saskatoon ASAP. Winnipeg’s This Hisses followed, delivering a strong set accented by some of the best drumming in Western Canada. Not to be outdone, locals The Mandates stepped up and tore through a set of garage punk reminiscent of The Exploding Hearts. By the end of the night the floor was covered in pools of beer and lipstick stains could be spotted on those unfortunate enough to be sporting a white t-shirt. Yowza.
Similarly, Cowpuncher played to a packed house upstairs while Saskatoon’s Jeans Boots brought a particularly stompy set on a stage the size of a postage stamp. Meanwhile, just down the street at The Legion, Regina’s The Spoils ripped through their bass-heavy songs that literally shook the floor.
Other memorable sets of the weekend included The Sumner Brothers, whose brooding country noir was a stark counterbalance for Lethbridge’s Jesse and the Dandelions’ power pop folk. Scenic Route to Alaska played a set at Broken City that was highlighted with audience singalongs, while the Young Benjamins kept them dancing with songs that were heavy on both melody and fun. Saskatoon’s Castle River similarly managed to impress a packed room during a rare all-acoustic set, while Speed Control, a trio hailing from the Yukon, put on one of the most energetic performances of the entire festival.
Sask. music wins big at the Western Canadian Music Awards
It’s been an amazing year for Saskatchewan music. Just ask The Sheepdogs, Rah Rah or Andy Shauf, who were among the artists that were honoured at the Western Canadian Music Awards during BreakOut West.
Derek Bachman of SaskMusic says that bands from across the province are becoming nationally known names thanks to events such as the WCMAs.
“There has been a lot of development in the province on both the industry side and from the artists. The awards are evidence of that,” he says.
Hosted by Grant Lawrence of CBC, The Sheepdogs won Rock Recording of the Year while front man Ewan Currie took top place for Songwriter of the Year. Rah Rah, who is currently touring throughout North America, nabbed the Independent Album of the Year for The Poet’s Dead, while Andy Shauf won Producer of the Year.
“This is a guy who made his record from home and he made it his own way,” said Bachman on Shauf’s win. “I think that is evidence that the industry is changing in that people can make these incredible records and get noticed in this way.”
Bachman had another reason to celebrate this weekend, taking home the industry award for Talent Buyer of the Year.
“I wasn’t expecting to win. There were some pretty great people I’ve had the pleasure of working with in that category. We are lucky that Saskatchewan has had some fairly big events recently with the Junos and last year’s BreakOut West, so we have been able to book a lot of really great artists.”