In London, Ontario, the music doesn’t stop when the snow flies.
Winter Spectacular banishes festival season withdrawal and shines like a candle in the distance on a dark, blustery night. And while the weather on the final night of this year’s five-day festival could certainly be described as “blustery”, the icy sidewalks and slushy roads were no match for the heat coming from the old Vibrafusion Lab on Clarence Street.
On the heels of three days of rock, synth, folk, and everything in between, Saturday’s Winter Spectacular itinerary was jam-packed with local talent, beginning with the Winter Spectacular General Store, a tuning collaboration between Curious Movers and London Girls Rock Camp. The festival’s daytime activities would wind down with a creative workshop with JOYFULTALK, who would open the show at 355 Clarence St. later that evening.
JOYFULTALK produces the kind of music that makes you think and not think at the same time, and they were the perfect way to kick off Winter Spectacular’s final night of music. Lead by Nova Scotia-native Jay Crocker, JOYFULTALK’s organic, manual style felt right at home between Vibrafusion’s painted plywood walls and scuffed linoleum floors. Simultaneously complemented and contrasted by the black and white film projected onto the walls behind the stage, Crocker’s beats may have felt obscure at first, but musicians and audience soon slipped into their groove and revelled in some of the most avant-garde layers of synth, bass, and glitch of the evening.
Watch JOYFULTALK’s video for ‘Buschbabies’ off their latest album, ‘MUIXX’:
After hearing London’s New Zebra Kid play with West Nile this past August at Call The Office, I was excited to see how their new wave vibe would facilitate the transition from JOYFULTALK’s rhythmic, progressive set to what I suspected would be an engrossing cosmic dance party hosted by Toronto-based DOOMSQUAD. True to form, the synthpop New Zebra Kid trio kept the dance party rocking and got the local love (and ’80s nostalgia) flowing, and by the time their set ended, the crowd was nearly in full groove. Bring on the cosmic dance party!
Get your groove on – take a listen to New Zebra Kid’s newest track ‘Say Goodbye’:
Lead by Toronto-based siblings Jaclyn, Allie, and Trevor Blumas, DOOMSQUAD delivered an immersive, interactive set that would transport the audience away from a blustery winter night into a swirling miasma of throbbing bass, synth, and atmospheric vocals. After New Zebra Kid’s upbeat style, DOOMSQUAD’s murky, psychedelic beats contributed an element of darkness to Saturday’s line-up – literally. At the end of their much-too-short set, DOOMSQUAD pulled their audience out of their sonic hypnosis by turning down the lights and closing out the show with an intimate performance.
Stream ‘Solar Ass’ off DOOMSQUAD’s latest album, ‘Total Time’:
More about Winter Spectacular 2016:
Winter Spectacular 2016 festival took place at multiple venues across London from December 14 to 18, 2016. The lineup featured 17 musicians, many of whom hail from London, as well as numerous visual artists and film makers, creative workshops, and unique pop-up shops.
Check out these other London-based artists who played Winter Spectacular: