Somewhat quietly, the newly reopened venue, The D – formerly known as the Distillery – started hosting metal shows once again in August. The long lasting effects of the venue’s abrupt closure had been felt: the Calgary Beer Core, who long called the venue their home, had to reschedule their massive Three Days of Dissent festival right around the time of the closure. Meanwhile, the Distillery’s owners were thrown into the nasty predicament of finding a new location and eventually relocated to an upscale street in the Eau Claire district. Now that the dust has cleared somewhat, everyone is picking themselves up and attempting the return to normalcy.
Part and parcel with this herculean task is the work of the Beer Core, a long-standing Calgary institution that books shows, hosts the annual Beer Core awards and generally supports and champions the scene with events and drunken shenanigans. The group has long booked events at a variety of venues; most recently they’ve been working on the Punk Vs. Metal series. While the majority of the gigs have taken place at the D, some have occurred at Vern’s Pub and the finale will be at the Stetson Inn. Corrinna Ross, talent buyer for the organization, has been one of the masterminds behind this endeavour, which comes to a celebratory end on December 31. Her CBC cohort, Big Ugly Jim, is on the judges panel.
“We put together seven shows for the qualifying round, a special thank you show and our final round, which will be our New Years Eve show,” he explains. “The seven qualifying shows mean a total of 10 winners will get on stage for New Years and battle it out. At the time of this conversation, we have already seen battles won by No More Moments, The Ativans, The Electric Revival, After The Prophet, A War Within, and Archelaos. By the time this reaches newsstands, we’ll have a victor between The Reckless Heroes and Frightenstein and another between His Last Words and The Rigormorticians.”
Corrinna Ross and CBC President Mark Russell, who founded the group 10 years ago, selected the bands.
“I arranged the bands and venues for the tournament. This involved chain smoking, a lot of coffee and pestering the fuck out of Jim and Mark, plus listening to a lot of great bands and figuring out how to position them in the lineups,” explains Ross. “I’m one of the Talent Buyers for the CBC, but my job hardly begins and ends there.”
So far, the mood has been celebratory. Shows are fun, regardless of who wins, although announcing who has been awarded the honours each night is a task that Big Ugly Jim does not enjoy.
“Jerk Corrinna booked way too good a tournament and the bands have all been phenomenal,” he says. “In all seriousness, the CBC doesn’t have dogs in this race. This is about getting the public to see these great local bands. I’d sleep with them all if I could.”
He continues, “As for the judging, it’s a highly secretive process that involves pens, papers, drunken mathematical equations (adding) and the insights of our judges.”
As for what’s coming up next, on December 7 there will be a thank-you gig to all the bands that played and fans that attended. That show will feature Hiram King and Exit Strategy at the D and is not part of the competition. A week later, on December 14 at Vern’s Pub, they finish off the first round of battles when Cadavor Dog and Citizen Rage go neck to neck, alongside a three-way battle between Leave The Living, Sedition Choir, and Blackest Sin. The final event will feature the ten victors playing a set on December 31 at the Stetson Inn.
“I love that Jim and Mark and the judges constantly bitch to me about how hard it has been to pick winners. I really don’t have a favourite, everybody has been amazing,” concludes Ross. “I’m just ecstatic as fuck that the bands have been as amazing as they have been. Anyone who has missed these shows has missed out. NO GOOD EXCUSES!”
Punk vs Metal continues this month with a thank-you show on December 7 at the D, featuring Hiriam King and Exit Strategy and on December 14 at Vern’s Pub, with Cadavor Dog, Citizen Rage, Leave the Living, Sedition Choir and Blackest Sin. The finale will be hosted on New Year’s Eve at the Stetson Inn and will feature 10 bands.
Words and photo by Sarah Kitteringham