Purple-City

Edmonton’s Purple City Festival Is Ready To Light Up The Town

The "Destination Boutique Music Festival” runs August 26 to 28 at venues all over the city. 

by Ben Boddez

Expanding and evolving from Edmonton’s downtown core festival Up+Down Town with a new name, Purple City Music Festival is launching this summer with citywide venue spaces, a wide-reaching lineup of genres with acts both local and international and headliners like Shannon & The Clams, !!! and A Place to Bury Strangers.

Festival director Ryan Rathjen says that one of his main goals in curating and expanding the festival was to cater to an inclusive and all-ages space as much as possible, something that he believed the city was formerly lacking. Upgrading the festival to an all-day event and adding venues like the Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park to the usual haunts, offers a range of experiences as diverse as the artists on display – as the festival’s other goal is to platform the most groundbreaking sounds from the underground scene.

“We’re super focused on the newest kinds of music out there and people pushing different kinds of sounds, we’re inspired by festivals like Desert Daze and Sled Island in that way,” Rathjen says. “I usually listen to around 500 tracks a week for my radio show, and I’m always looking. That really helps propel the curation of this festival.”

With a lineup where the women are equally prominent to the men while featuring numerous queer artists, Rathjen is pleased that the festival’s diversity came naturally, and believes it to be a product of the innovative nature of the music the festival’s curators love to listen to. Past the immediate draw of the headliners, he nods to Ontario indie-rock band Basement Revolver and Edmonton expat Mitch Davis, a rapper turned one-man vintage funk outfit, as can’t-miss acts.

The festival’s name comes from a decades-old legendary Edmonton tradition that involves organizing get-togethers at the local legislature, staring directly into the lights that illuminate the building at night, and then turning towards the city’s skyline and watching it change to the colour purple.

“When we were thinking of names that represent the whole city, it made a lot of sense being this folklore thing that people have a weird connection to,” Rathjen says. “I was talking to a local and he said they used to do it in the 70s. I’ve read stories about people having their first kiss down there – there’s all sorts of ties to it.”

Rathjen recommends checking out shows at the Heritage Amphitheatre and the Freemasons’ Hall, a venue that will be exclusive to Purple City when it comes to concerts and is loaded with memorabilia from the world’s oldest fraternal organization, but first and foremost he’s anticipating a raised level of enthusiasm in the crowds to be getting back to shows at all.

“The shows that I’ve seen this year, I think there’s a real appreciation for the artists to be there again, and from the crowd to be there and experiencing that,” he says. “There are a lot of artists who have been sitting on their material for a while, so I think it’ll be a reunion of sorts and a joyous experience.”

Purple City runs from August 26 to 28, 2022. For more info check out purplecityfest.com | TICKETS

RANGE Mag’s Picks of the Festival 

Shannon and the Clams 

 

Mixing together the doo-wop and early rock and roll of the 50s, the dramatic girl group sounds of the 60s, and some punky snarl imported from 1977, Oakland’s Shannon & the Clams came up with a sound that was charmingly retro but never stale. Emerging from the Northern California underground music scene in 2009, the band, led by vocalist Shannon Shaw, earned a reputation as a stellar live act, and came into their own as recording artists when they signed to the Sub Pop-distributed Hardly Art label for 2013’s Dreams in the Rat House and 2015’s Gone by the Dawn. The group edged closer to mainstream visibility with a pair of LPs produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, 2018’s Onion and 2021’s Year of the Spider. 

!!! ( Chk Chk Chk )

Combining punk abandon and tightly-coiled dance music has always been bonded into the band’s DNA. It’s this core plus their growth and mastery of songwriting that has seen them outlive the mid-2000s ‘indie/dance punk’ tag and has allowed them to consistently grow lyrically and sonically from album to album. As If is their most transcendent collection of songs yet. “Each album we’ve made has gotten closer and closer to our live set and this, we’re proud to say, is the closest we’ve come yet. The Current line up of the band is fronted by the Duo of Nic Offer & Meah Pace.

A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS

Oliver Ackermann formed A Place To Bury Strangers in Brooklyn, New York in 2003. He has written, produced, mixed, and mastered all five A Place To Bury Strangers albums and numerous EPs. He has relentlessly toured the world for 13 years with various band mates. A fierce and legendary live band, APTBS is known for wild live performances filled with beyond intense visuals and dangerous stage antics. In 2002, Oliver started the effects pedal company Death by Audio. Known (and sometimes feared) for their ability to produce blistering noise, his pedals are used by musicians around the world. APTBS is currently touring their 6th full length studio album “see through you” which was released in February of 2022.

Death Valley Girls

Rock and roll has always served as a means to elevate the fringe of  society, though it’s accentuated the plights of the outcasts and misfits in different ways throughout the years. In its infancy, rock was a playful rebuttal against segregation and Puritanism. In the 60s, it became a vehicle for an elevated consciousness. In the years following the Summer of Love and the clampdown on Flower Power, that countercultural spirit adopted the aggravated and occasionally nihilistic edge of bands like The Stooges, Black Sabbath, MC5, and the New York Dolls. And then as the 80s approached, popular rock and roll turned into a relatively benign celebration of hedonism and decadence, but that contingent of dark mystics from the 70s who lifted the veil and used music as a means of rallying people to altered planes had left their mark. It was an undercurrent in rock that would never die, but would percolate in corners of the underground. Today we can see it manifest in LA’s Death Valley Girls.

Dilly Dally

In the short time since they released their acclaimed debut record, Sore, Dilly Dally toured the world and took the press by storm, only to nearly collapse under the weight of their own success and call it quits forever. Rising from the ashes with more power and conviction than ever before, the Toronto rockers’ new album is appropriately titled Heaven, and it’s a fierce, fiery ode to optimism, a distortion-soaked battle cry for hope and beauty in a world of darkness and doubt. Frontwoman Katie Monksdescribes the songs as coping mechanisms, and the collection does indeed form something of a survival kit for hard times, but even more than that, it’s a declaration of faith in the power of music and a burning reminder that we need not wait until the afterlife for things to get better.