Where: Sackville, N.B.
When: August 4-6
What it is
For the 12th year, SappyFest transforms Sackville, N.B. into summer camp for adults. This year sees Steven Lambke take over as creative director. No stranger to the festival, Lambke performs solo(ish) under the name Baby Eagle and is a member of the Constantines. He also runs the indie label You’ve Changed Records, so the guy clearly has a nose for talent.
Most of the music takes place on the mainstage in the day and night. Then around midnight, the festival goes full-nocturnal with shows at the Legion around the corner and Thunder & Lightning (bar, bowling alley, bonkers) next to the big tent.
As always, there’s a beer tent, lots of merch options (but snap them up early: festival merch sells out fast), zines, food trucks, intimate theatre shows, late night hazy adventures at the legion and a bowling alley.
Daniel Romano returns to the Maritimes for the first time in what’s felt like forever. The prolific songwriter basically puts out a new album or two every year. Romano headlines the mainstage Friday night and also performs as Ancient Shapes late Saturday night at Thunder & Lightning.
Saturday night features a fifth of the 2017 Polaris Prize shortlist with Toronto’s Weaves headlining the show and Lido Pimienta taking the stage before that.
As always, the You’ve Changed fam is well represented with hometown heroes Partner headlining the main stage on Sunday. Last year’s headlining performance was a highlight of SappyFest XI, so the bar is high. But if there’s anybody who can clear the bar and put a smile on your face, it’s Partner.
To listen to (almost) all the bands playing Sappy this year, check out our SappyFest playlist.
Four members of our team are making the trip to Sackville. I asked them who they are most excited to see and here’s what they said. Original spelling, punctuation and caps lock unedited for maximum impact.
Evelyn Hornbeck: ALWAYS PARTNER ALWAYS. No show is more enthusiastic, uplifting and stonerrific. Or partner will make me laugh cry and dance and want to crowd surf and BELIEVE I CAN.
Michael McGrath: Booji Boys becaue it’s absolute madness and every single time tehy play they fuckin’ rip, there is nothing quite like it in Canada right now and if you miss it you’re gonna regret it forever as the legend of Booji Boys will be passed down from generation to generation. Booji Boys are the Punx u need at sappy even if u didn’t know u needed punx.
Matías Muñoz: Teenanger is a band that sounds great in the studio but is meant to be experienced live. Their flashback, post-punk sound elicits a sense of nostalgia as songs off their new album Teenager ooze with dissonant riffs from simpler times. If you haven’t had the chance to catch this band live yet, be sure to circle this one on the schedule.
Jonathan Briggins: Oddly enough, the first time I heard of Lido Pimienta was through an Instagram Live video when the Columbian-born, Toronto-based artist was opening for Austra. The ultimate DIY artist, Pimienta self-released her self-titled album without the help of PR or a label. After her Polaris nomination, Pimienta tweeted “Not in English or French, no physical copy, no label, no PR, no “infrastructure”. Just raw love and pain. Thank you for being open.” It’s Spanish. It’s avant-garde and electronic. It’s safe to say this will be a memorable moment in SappyFest lore.
Softball returns to SappyFest, so pack your leather mitt if that’s your sort of thing. The game will take place on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Chester Cole Memorial Ball Field. According to the festival, these are the rules: no secrets, no strikeouts, no scorekeepers, no lead-offs, no hard feelings and ties go to the runner. And let’s be real, you’re probably better than the Blue Jays this year.
Photo of Partner by Jonathan Briggins/Mixtape Magazine