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Your (Super) Friendly Neighbourhood Punks Keep the Good Times Brewing

Edmonton brewery Sea Change is tapping the kegs for the second year of their annual Super Friendly music festival.

by Molly Labenski

Despite the popular belief that punk died as quickly as it started, the subculture appears to be very much alive and well in the blue-collared capital of Edmonton, AB. Local brewery Sea Change has been successfully bringing the punk aesthetic to the beer market since 2017 and hopes to circle back to the movement’s musical roots with their own festival, Super Friendly. Originally known as Barley Party but rebranded in 2022, the punk rock music gathering is still in its infancy but is picking up steam as it enters its rebellious adolescent years.

Punk styles and aesthetics have been integral to Sea Change since day one. “Punk music is the music we love and connect with,” said co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Pete Nguyen, also of Edmonton band The Weekend Kids. “When we started we had zero dollars. We designed the brewery and put the walls up ourselves. We had a DIY ethic that aligned appropriately with the punk aesthetic. Our vibe in general is scrappy but put-together, polished enough to get by.”

Sea Change has become known for their alternative designs and approach to brewing. Nguyen adds that “There is a freedom that comes with branding a punk item. You aren’t tied to a rigid, modern aesthetic that can be boring. We get to draw skulls and incorporate tattoo art. We think of our beers as singles and have [the style of] band merchandise built into our brand.” You can see this freedom in the designs on beers like “Death Wave” and “Man Crush.”

Keeping the brewery based in music was a crucial foundation for Sea Change founders, three of whom were involved in their own musical projects: Ian McIntosh of Owls by Nature, solo-artist Jay Sparrow, and Nguyen of The Weekend Kids. The fourth co-founder and Head Brewer is Taylor Falk, who “is not in a band, but brews good beer,” Nguyen jokes.

It was also important to Sea Change to save one spot in the lineup for an up-and-coming band, not only to spotlight local talent but also to bridge the gap between OG punk music fans and a new generation. “We grew up in the punk hay days of the late-90s, early-2000s,” says Nguyen. “So we wanted to include a band that we didn’t really know because they are probably half our age.” 

When Sea Change put out the call, they received over thirty band submissions and landed on Trashed Ambulance from Red Deer, Alberta, a band that is reviving the gritty pop-punk of the early aughts. Other local acts include King Thief, The Old Wives, and Wares, in addition to larger touring acts like No Trigger, Chixdiggit, The OBGMs, NOBRO, and Face to Face, with the Toronto pop punkers PUP headlining.

One of the goals of Super Friendly is to curate an experience by matching beverages with music. “The experience of drinking beer has so much to do with what you’re doing and where you are. You remember the beer you have at certain shows,” says Nguyen. This year, Sea Change is incorporating more beer activations into the event to create the perfect alternative atmosphere. There will be specialty beer casks debuted the night of the festival so everyone in the audience and the band members themselves can share the sensory experience of sound and taste together.

Super Friendly is Saturday Sept. 9 at Midway Music Hall in Edmonton, AB | TICKETS & INFO 

Read our interview with Super Friendly headliners PUP here!