Big Winter Classic picks

I’d like to say “it’s that time of the year again” indicating festival season, but really, we are as far away from festival season as possible. It’s the dead of winter (albeit unseasonably warm) and I’m writing about a festival. Big Winter Classic must love Calgary, because it’s bringing us a party in the middle of January. From the 19th to the 22nd of this month, Big is hosting bands at three venues around the city, including Last Best Brewing & Distilling, Broken City, and Dickens Pub. There are five stages, and yes, two are outdoors. Although this is Vamp’s first year attending, we can be pretty sure they plan to keep us warm (hopefully). Even if heaters aren’t provided, you can be sure to warm by drinking a few brews and jumping around in a sweaty crowd to some excellent music. Here’s some of my personal favourites below.

The Wet Secrets

The Wet Secrets’ Bandcamp page warns you about the kind of shows they play, claiming they have a “well-established reputation for a phenomenal, sweaty live show”. It’s no wonder why, because the kind of music they produce is upbeat, indie rock that layers percussion, synthesizers, and horns. Their signature look is red and white marching band uniforms. They can outplay any marching band, although the music can be called stylistically influenced by the uniform horns and confident sound. The Wet Secrets released their EP, I Can Live Forever, last year. You won’t want to miss them, so check them out inside Last Best Brewing & Distilling at 11pm on Saturday.

All Hands on Jane

The all female group makes “pseudo-sludge blues”, which definitely sounds made up (and probably is) but needs to be to describe their sound. Their sound comes at you pretty hard, telling their tale through grungy psychedelic rock. Hailing from Calgary, the group’s name is pretty well known, and definitely worth seeing if you want to step outside the box. Their most recent, Sorry I Set You On Fire, has some solid tracks, including one of my personal favourites, “Whiskey in the Winter”. Big Winter Classic is bringing you some All Hands On Jane in the winter, so check them out on Saturday at 10:45pm at Dickens.  

Wares

I love it when artists call their work “a musical project”, because it prepares me for some experimenting, one of the best parts about any music. The dynamics of her song drastically change, sometimes in the same track. From electronic, heavy pieces to soft, acoustic refrains, Cassia J. Hardy emulates emotions through everything she plays, and it’s infectious. This Edmonton-based artist was even featured in Noisey in 2016 shortly after her album City Kids came out- check it out here. Make sure to also check her out at Last Best Saturday at 6:30pm.

The Torchettes

The Torchettes are another local favourite, and for good reason. I can’t say I’m a fan of soul music, but when these ladies open their mouths, I’m suddenly entranced. Their sound is reminiscent of 60’s doo-wop music with a twist of rock, using a swinging tune with Steve Williams playing the saxophone in all of their newest releases. “About You”, “Crash Bang Boom”, and “Ruined Man” are all available on their Bandcamp, and will make any man rue the day they fuck with these women, even if the song has a positive tone. Their music speaks for itself, so go check them out inside Last Best at 9pm on Saturday.

Alexa Borden

“Sultry dive rock on Ambien” is an excellent way to describe Alexa Borden’s music. Listening to her new single, Dynamite, I feel like I’m on a trip I don’t want to end. The heavy bass puts you into a trance, and her smooth, deep voice makes you feel what she’s trying to say in your bones. It’ll sear into your brain, you won’t be able to think of anything else. Yeah, like a drug. Borden’s music is intoxicating, and you won’t want to miss her show at Last Best, Friday at 6pm.