Matthew Gadsby

Music festival showcases resurgent noise scene

By Jason Herring, June 4 2015 —

Calgary’s Noise Daze Music Festival will return for its second year on June 12 and 13. The two-day festival, held at Civic on Third, aims to provide a venue for local experimental, ambient and shoegaze musicians to showcase their music.

Shoegaze is a genre characterized by droning guitars filtered through effect pedals, subdued vocals that exist only in the music’s background and ethereal walls of sound. The term was coined as a wry joke on the typical stance musicians take when they perform, staring at the guitar effect pedals at their feet.

Festival director Dylann Golbeck says she was inspired to create the festival after a recent resurgence in shoegaze music. Seminal
shoegaze groups like Swervedriver and The Jesus and Mary Chain have regrouped, making plans to visit Calgary during Sled Island. Local musicians are also becoming more interested in the style.

Local shoegaze group Blind Roots were one of the bands to perform at last year’s Noise Daze festival. The event showcases experimental and noise music. // Matthew Gadsby

Local shoegaze group Blind Roots were one of the bands to perform at last year’s Noise Daze festival. The event showcases experimental and noise music. // Matthew Gadsby

“We’re starting to see a lot of concerts in Calgary that cater to experimental or noise or shoegaze music,” Golbeck says. “There wasn’t a very good space for it [before the festival began], but the local scene has grown a lot.”

Due to of the intricate nature of experimental music, Golbeck says it’s important for bands to be able to play in venues that accommodate their work.

“The bar scene doesn’t cater to our sounds or allow people to experience it to its full capacity. You’ll be sitting there listening to ambient music, and there might be people playing pool in the background,” Golbeck says. “For a lot of music, it’s really nice to get that pub ambience in the background, but for more ambient or experimental music there’s some discrete subtleties that go unnoticed in certain venues.”

Golbeck says the venue will also host visual art to accompany the musical acts. Some of these artists will sell their work as vendors, while others will project visuals onto the stage while bands play. Golbeck hopes these elements will build an immersive atmosphere at the shows.

One band performing at this year’s festival is Tiny Shrine, a group originally from San Francisco but now living in Calgary. Band members Jared Andres, Shane Arr and Matthew Robinson construct songs with unorthodox structure and dissonant tones.

Tiny Shrine are playing at this year's Noise Daze festival. // Chris Tait

Tiny Shrine are playing at this year’s Noise Daze festival. // Chris Tait

“We like the idea of an unconventional way of writing songs,” Robinson says. “We’re all interested in how, when you throw a bunch of reverb and delay into instruments, it kind of repeats itself and leads to different levels of dissonance in the sound.”

Like most shoegaze bands, Tiny Shine says their main objective when using vocals in their music is to build a fluid atmosphere rather than tell a story.

“It’s more about trying to get a feeling or a sentiment across, rather than trying to be super poetic. You could say it’s about atmosphere,” Andres says. “What’s interesting about our vocals is the words aren’t clear. It’s a mysterious sound, but still evident.”

Tiny Shrine is one of 18 bands performing at Noise Daze. Golbeck says the festival’s growth is evident in the lineup, which features eight bands traveling to the city just for the festival. The main focus of Noise Daze, however, is still promoting local experimental artists and developing the scene in Calgary.

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