Festival Guide: Gridlock Festival

Where: Halifax, NS
When: July 8-10

What it is

A brand new music festival in downtown Halifax, Gridlock has that new car smell but was assembled by people who’ve been putting on great shows in Halifax for over a decade. Along with bands who’ve never played Halifax — or in the case of American Football who’ll play Canada for the first time — the festival features top-notch food and beverage options. This includes T-Dogs, the best hot dogs in the city. Need we say more?

Gridlock nailed the ideal festival formula by bringing in bands that haven’t played Halifax before (American Football, TR/ST, DIIV, Lower Dens, Waxahatchee, Beach Slang), haven’t played in a long time (Wolf Parade), are frequent visitors and crowd-pleasers (Wintersleep, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Freak Heat Waves, Solids) and the absolute best Maritime bands (Vogue Dots, Partner, Jon McKiel, Walrus, Kim Harris). There are a bunch of other bands that fit into those categories as well.

Along with a stellar lineup and food vendors, the venue (the grounds of the Spatz Theatre/Citadel High School) is bottled water free. At this point, it’s ridiculous for festivals to sell overpriced water with a heavy cost on the environment when clean tap water is readily available. So bring an empty water bottle, stay hydrated and buy a record or t-shirt with all that change you’ll save.

While the main stage is 19+, the festival features two all-ages shows. The best part, if you’re under 19 (with proof of age), the shows are free. Bands playing the all-ages shows include Beach Slang, Waxahatchee, Solids, Owen, Postdata and Crossed Wires.

Finally, around this time of year, we’re constantly reminded of music festivals complete inability to book bands that aren’t just people who identify as men. Whatever excuse people come up with, please direct them to Gridlock Festival. The lineup is balanced (aka doesn’t look like ManFest) and surprise! It’s top quality! Take a peak at this recent Globe and Mail article by Carly Lewis titled Music festivals have a serious problem: They don’t book enough females.

Gridlock has lots of promise and we’re hoping it becomes a mainstay in the Canadian summer festival calendar.

Headliners

American Football, Wolf Parade, Wintersleep, DIIV, Waxahatchee, The Rural Alberta Advantage and more. Full lineup available at Gridlockfestival.com

Mix picks

Lowell

Elizabeth Lowell Boland first grabbed Mixtape’s attention in 2014 with the release of the I Killed Sara V. EP. Describing her as an electro-pop artist does a disservice to how powerful a lyricist and performer she is. Along with catchy earworms (just try and listen to The Bells and not have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day), Lowell absolutely slays while singing about LGBT love, scum-of-earth bad boys and proudly flying the feminist flag in the coolest way possible. She’s important for the Canadian music scene. Her new EP Part 1: Paris YK comes out on August 26.

Lower Dens

Following the theme of digging bands with “Low” in the name, we’re excited for Lower Dens. You know how everybody who doesn’t really know much about the Halifax music scene has to compare every Halifax band to Sloan or Joel Plaskett? I’m worried I’m at risk of sounding like that by comparing Lower Dens to Beach House since both bands are from Baltimore. Both have almost hypnotic synths, dream-like guitars and lackadaisical vocals that brings down the heart rate a little and makes the world a better place. Lower Dens has a little more punch and isn’t quite as dreamy.

Mix tip

While Mixtape’s current tagline is “Inside Canadian Music”, it just as easily could be “Powered by hot dogs”. So please, do yourself and get a hot dog from T-Dogs.

About Jonathan Briggins 69 Articles
Editor-in-chief of Mixtape magazine.