Festival Guide: Obey Convention IX

Where: Halifax, N.S.
When: May 26-29

What it is: Whether you chose to check out a select few shows or take in everything with a festival pass, Obey Convention is a festival experience like none other. It’s a festival that feels familiar yet completely unexpected at the same time. It’s a festival equally built for the audience and the performers. From the venues to the performers, Obey Convention is carefully curated. It means all the bands make sense, there’s a certain sense of quality control, and nobody is set up for failure. Shows don’t overlap so there’s no competition between artists and the risk of near-empty venues. And the part about it being built for the audience — for the first time, all unlicensed events are free for people under-19. What an awesome way for people to potentially discover the Halifax live scene without the pressures of money.

The festival finds a way to bring in performers who’ve never played Halifax before and maybe you’ve never heard of. The success of previous festivals gives you a reason to trust the curators and jump into the unknown. It’s the sort of festival where you can be check out the experimental, rhythmic and transporting music of Joshua Abrams (Chicago) at Deep Water Church before trekking a few blocks over to the Marquee to get blown away by the high-energy, experimental rap of Mykki Blanco (Orange County).

Sometimes at music festivals, music as an art form is lost. But not at Obey Convention. It stirs up creative forces and showcases the beauty of taking risks and experimenting with sound and vision.

Headliners: Mykki Blanco, Zs, Joshua Abrams, Marie Davidson, Rabit, Nadja

For the full schedule visit Obey Convention’s website

Mix picks: It’s worth checking out any of the headliners as some of these will be once-in-a-Halifax-lifetime events. While Obey does a great job of brining in talent from around the world, the fest also serves as a reminder of the latent talent in Halifax. Some incredibly talented artists, such as Cloaked Figure, exist in the shadows.  The ambient noise project is surrounded in mystery so a festival like Obey is one of the few places drone music is exposed to a wider audience. The tape Tome Is Melting consists of two distinct sides. The first 15-minute track “let the gods forgive what I have created, let those I love try to forgive what I have created” features warm synths droning on into a never-ending future. The next track, “if you close your eyes you lose the power of abstraction” is more industrial in nature with, a modulated storm that must be waited out until the end.

Cloaked Figure plays Fort Massey United on Thursday, May 26 at 7:30pm along with Sound of the Mountain and Nadja. $17 advance/$20 door

Also worth checking out: Toronto’s New Fries plays the Mykki Blanco after party at Menz on Saturday, May 28. Whenever you’re bored of guitars and never want to listen to music, give New Fries a listen. The band is like your brain after a can of soda on a hot summers day. Give me more! What will happen next?

Mix tip: Drone day is Saturday, May 28. The annual event is organized by the fine folks over at Weird Canada through the Wyrd Arts Initiatives and it the holiday happens to coincide with Obey this year. This is your excuse to join the drone movement as it creeps from coast-to-coast. In Halifax, the event is at the Khyber and a few other locations yet to be announced.

About Jonathan Briggins 71 Articles
Editor-in-chief of Mixtape magazine.