Festival Guide: Shed Island

Where: St. John’s, N.L.
When: August 4-6

What it is

You won’t find huge acts at Shed Island, or even “huge” in the Canadian indie music scene. Instead, you’ll see some of the best underground bands from Newfoundland and across the country. Shed Island is a small, carefully curated weekend of shows taking place in venues across St. John’s. While still a festival in name, it’s more like a gathering of friends and like-minded people and an excuse to go to a city you’ve never been to before.

In Shed Island’s third year, it has found its groove. With bands such as Toronto punk outfit La Luna, Montreal’s Towanda and Halifax’s Future Girls, it goes without saying this festival isn’t going for a huge fan base or financial gain. They’re doing it not just for the music, but for the culture and ethos of DIY music and practices in a city known more for larger indie bands like Hey Rosetta! (or dare I say that other three word massive Newfoundland band.)

This being said, the out-of-towners are not the selling point of Shed Island. The festival is all about showcasing the extremely talented and diverse selection of local talent. From the spooky low-fi synth vibes of Armahain to the calculated chaos of bands like Kuronuma to the catchy poppy tunes of MAANS,  it’s proof this is a festival of friends, artists, creators and collaborators coming together to appreciate a small scene with a massive sound.

For those going to Shed Island from away, this is a fun vacation and a chance to see some bands. For those who live in St. John’s, this festival is so much more than what myself, an out-of-towner (or a “mainlander”) is able to describe.

Who’s playing

La Luna, Protruders, Imposter Grey, Towanda, Weird Star, Future Girls, Blunt Chunks, Hard Ticket, Maans, XBF, Green and Gold, India, AE Bridger, Ritual Frames, Family Video, Kuronuma, Armahain, Different Dude, Glib

Mix picks

La Luna

If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing La Luna before, you know that this is a band that can very easily be described as “live catharsis.” Vocalist Vanessa Gloux creates a juxtaposition in the brashness of La Luna, on songs such as “Always Already” speaking softly over the chaos, only to change to intense screaming (see that “live catharsis” thing I said.) The recordings of La Luna are amazing, but the live experience is a completely different level.

MAANS

Have you ever been at a show and there is a band that you’ve never heard before playing, but your ears perk up and that weird music-spidey sense starts tingling and suddenly your foot is tapping? If you’re at a show that MAANS is playing and you don’t already know them, that’s exactly what happens. They’re a catchy, fun and self-reflective indie-pop group anyone could love. It’s a Micah Brown project, the man behind bands such as P.E.I.’s “Gutless Wonder” and the recording and mixing of countless bands across Atlantic Canada and afar. MAANS are the people’s champ of Shed Island and shouldn’t be missed.

Mix tip

Go to Fixed Coffee & Baking to fuel up and eat some baked goods. When you’re there, there’s sure to be someone in one of the bands playing Shed Island working. There’s also sure to be a million people attending the festival for another day of shows (and/or nursing hangovers).

The schedule only boasts five shows in three days,  but at the bottom the fine print clearly reads “additional pop up events during the festival, keep your eyes peeled”. Last year a bunch of people piled into a house and watched Kestrels play in a sweaty basement, Unreal Thought blasted music into downtown St. John’s from a parking lot and Crosss played at a skatepark. This is what Shed Island is about. It’s not about a descending font-size on a poster, it’s not about that one big show you can’t miss. It’s about having fun with friends and making new friends, it’s about creation and collaboration and freedom.

Photo of La Luna via Facebook