HOLIDAY TUNES THAT MATTER
It’s that time of year again kids! It is Vancouver’s annual Christmas party for the underground. This is not your boring drab of an office party with dreadful catering, lack of alcohol and secret Santas. Nope, this is Diecemberfest. And it promises to be filled with rowdy patrons, cheap domestic beer, and ear splitting music. It’s an opportunity for the extreme music scene to take a break from the holiday doldrums. Where you can hoist a brew, snarl, spit and rage. All the while chaotic riffage, bomb dropping beats and tormented screams put an end to all silent nights.
Now in its fifth year, Diecemberfest in reality, has nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with celebrating the dynamic heavy music populace that Vancouver has going for it. You’d have to go back to the 1990s to find it in a healthier state. The aught years brought a lull of sorts. The broken pieces from that period were picked up and buried, but not for good. Several years ago a shovel struck the cold winter earth and exhumed a healthy crop of new bands full of a fresh breed of flesh, stubborn scene veterans, and a resilience that only heavy music can provide. This did not go unnoticed by Diecemberfest creator Johnny Matter of Apocalypse Sunrise Productions.
“About five years ago I noticed there was a big resurgence of new bands in Vancouver that were just starting out, many from old bands,” Matter recollects. “So I thought to take it upon myself to try and put on a little festival based on the concept of new era Vancouver bands coming from old bands that have broken up.”
The festival has come full circle from the original night five years ago that saw a four-band bill pack Pat’s Pub. Diecemberfest now commands a double night of mayhem. With the help Crowsnest Productions (The Rickshaw) and No Bullocks Events (Funkys), Diecemberfest will invade two different establishments that have carved out a legendary place in this venue starved extreme music landscape. Sixteen local bands in all will become a spectacle to feverish supporters that chose the night as their winter wonderland.
And that amount of bands only scratches the surface of what Vancouver has to offer. Every year it’s all blood and no tears for Matter, who literally has to turn away dozens of want-to-be Diecemberfest bands. That’s just how healthy this scene is.
In a season of mistletoes and lack of live shows, the month of December makes for a perfect platform for locals to come together. “Obviously people are out shopping and leaving town. But people are also going out for drinks, living it up and having fun,” says Matter. “I don’t really celebrate the holiday, so Diecemberfest is my Christmas. It’s a way that I can celebrate with friends and have cheers, beers, play music and have fun. That’s what it’s all about.”
And in the true spirit of the season, Matter is awarding gift bags for food bank donations to help the less fortunate. “Aggressive music gets a real bad rep. Outsiders think we might be real scary, not-good people. That doesn’t fairly represent the people who play this type of music. Most of which are some of the most genuine people you will meet. So it is kind of my way of saying we are part of the community, we’re helping out,” he adds. The first night features featuring Archspire, Burning Ghats, Sinned, Anion, Nihilate, Ogroem, Dungeons, and Nautilus. Night two unleashes Tyrants Blood, Life Against Death, Zuckuss, Abriosis, Dead Again, Memorial, Destroy All and Witch Of The Waste.
So, if you haven’t heard, there is a Christmas party for all you miscreants out there. Diecemberfest is the two nights your true love for music gave to thee.
Diecemberfest happens on December 13 at The Rickshaw and again on December 14 at Funkys.
By Heath Fenton
Photo: tiina liimu