Ominocity to celebrate four years of being an actual thing
It’s been a long, strange ride. Maybe.
Since starting Ominocity four years ago, site founders Chris Morin and Ryan Smith have managed to keep their online ship sailing despite committing nearly every mistake possible.
That’s likely the best way to have fun though. The idea has always been to find the stories not being told, the bands not being written about and the hidden secrets of a building so run down and dilapidated that the floor could cave in at any moment.
Somehow, they’ve kept it going for this long. Who knows when this virtual floor could collapse – could be in a dozen years. Or maybe next week.
Chris and Ryan meet in the parking lot of an all ages punk show in Regina. Despite having chatted on ICQ a few times, this is their first meeting IRL. Chris, who is hanging out with a bunch of bong-guzzling stoners, doesn’t make much of an impression on Ryan. Nevertheless, the two bond over watching d.b.s. and F.Y.P. and start attending every show they can in Saskatoon and elsewhere.
Ryan heads up Set Aside, a hardcore group with emo leanings. Chris plays in a punk band called The Radissons. When that project gets shelved, he joins Set Aside on bass, despite having never picked up the instrument before.
During this time the two both post frequently on the Sask Punk Message board, which, at the time, is one of the few online outlets for people to connect over the sporadic all ages punk shows of the time. Despite making friends with other musicians on the board, it’s not exactly a hive of digital enlightenment. Online harassment is rampant – Ryan gets called “ratboy” while Chris gets called much, much worse. Ryan begins his murky foray into the world of HTML coding.
The two also move in together in a house with three other dudes in Saskatoon’s west side. Parties frequently occur, as do band practices. It’s the first time either have lived away from home. Tellingly, this arrangement lasts a whopping seven months before everyone is evicted.
After playing numerous shows and festivals throughout Western Canada, and producing several recordings, Set Aside falls apart. The members move on to other projects and lament the break-up, but not the name, which clearly had to go.
Ryan starts Threeohsix.org, which changes everything. Pre-Facebook, the site makes a huge impact throughout Saskatchewan and beyond. The message board is popular, but many users post their own articles. Among the more popular pieces are interviews with Alexisonfire, Hot Hot Heat and Jared Leto. Chris begins editing articles for the site. Along with producing content, he also submits a weekly column of weird, oddball fiction pieces that mostly confuse his readers. To this day he still gets asked what his deal is with jean jackets.
A precursor to Ominocity, Threeohsix also mirrors the two founders’ personal interests: Chris becomes immersed in writing, content creation and journalism. Ryan begins developing his skills on building the back end of websites and managing servers.
Set Aside plays a reunion show at the Bassment. The venue sells out, and the band plays to a capacity crowd. Years later, the band talks about playing more shows, but never get around to actually doing it. Chris moves on to other bands such as The Paper*Kites, Nyet to the Neins and, eventually, Slow Down Molasses.
Ryan starts an internet hosting company with his first clients being bands that frequented Threeohsix. The company eventually grows to become Varial Hosting, Ryan’s full-time career.
Ryan pulls together 306Fest, a two-day celebration of 20 different bands from across Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. Among the highlights are Greg MacPherson, Despistado, and the two naked dudes who dance during Despistado’s set.
Ryan puts on another 306Fest at Louis. Highlights are You Say Party! We Say Die! and a lot of beer getting chugged very, very quickly.
Ryan attempts to resdesign Threeohsix.org in hopes of reviving the site. It doesn’t regain the traffic, or the former glory, that it once did.
Having since fallen into decline, disrepair and death, Ryan officially unplugs the site. Threeohsix.org is officially declared dead on January 13, 2009.
The site’s legacy lasts beyond the internet. Several couples, seeking an end to real life loneliness, end up hooking up after having met on the site. Some of them are now married. Total punk rock romance.
Having bounced around across Canada since 2007 with no permanent address, Chris is momentarily living in Montreal, playing in various bands and attempting to write for local papers with varying success. Ryan asks if he wants to start a new online project. “Something that will cover music, arts and culture and hopefully make us some money,” says Ryan. Years later the site will go on to accomplish roughly three of those things.
Having been absent from the line-up for several years, Chris is asked to re-join Slow Down Molasses in Saskatoon as a fill-in bass player for an upcoming cross-Canada tour. He returns to Saskatoon for rehearsal and begins plotting with Ryan to launch the new website.
Ominocity’s first articles are officially posted on March 1, 2011. Several days later, Chris leaves for tour. Afterwards, he returns to Montreal to keep the site going.
Ryan heads up the Ominocity launch party at Louis’, which features three bands that promptly break-up after the show. Among them are Volcanoless in Canada, War Brides and Auld Beak.
Two months later, Chris moves back to Saskatoon permanently to help run Ominocity, which begins to find a foothold in the local scene. Despite a few early jitters, several of the articles that support local talent start to resonate as do the event listings. It’s a fresh voice in a time when there are few similar outlets.
Ominocity is also named ‘Best Website/Blog’ in the 2011 Planet S Magazine ‘Best of Saskatoon’ Reader’s Poll – a feat they will accomplish three years in a row.
Ryan and Chris expand their coverage to include festivals across Canada and Europe – usually coinciding with Chris touring with Slow Down Molasses.
The first OMFEST goes down at Louis’, and draws a near-capacity crowd. Bringing together eight bands, the show is massive. Headliners Shooting Guns give Chris and Ryan a bong for their first anniversary. Chris and a friend are nearly arrested after the show for lighting posters on fire in the parking lot after everyone else is long gone. The night is deemed a success.
Ominocity begins sponsoring events, including Park(ing) Day and MoSoFest. For their MoSo day party at Amigos, the two bring Mitch from Volcanoless in Canada out of retirement for a surprise acoustic appearance. It’s a pleasant hint at what’s to come.
The second OMFEST is moved to Amigos, and features more Regina talent, including Robot Hive and The Spoils. Also featured are Gunner & Smith, Ones and Charly Hustle and Chapter Thrive. Also, there are lasers.
Ominocity features an article: U of S Student Video Goes Viral. The sentiment is returned when the article itself goes viral. The site experiences a massive surge of traffic, and Ryan fights constantly to keep the site from crashing.
The third OMFEST features Dream Country, The Filthy Senoritas, Slow Down Molasses and Royal Red Brigade, along with DJ Market Mall.
A picture of Ryan, taken from the Feminist viral video article, may or may not be featured in an Australian school textbook. So we’ve been told.
Chris begins working at Saskatoon’s daily newspaper The StarPhoenix, which causes him and Ryan to reimagine their content, shifting away from local news.
Chris and Ryan begin plotting OMFEST 4. Go big or quit, is the general sentiment. Thankfully, they don’t have to quit. Volcanoless in Canada, who played the initial launch party of the site, are brought out of retirement.
To be continued…?
Saskatoon gears up to party!
OMFEST 4 is almost here and advanced tickets are selling fast, fast, fast! Get them online now for $20 or risk it and pay $25 at the door like a chump!