As Juno mania descends on the city, a few local artists have banded together to offer an alternative way to celebrate Canadian music.
The O(h) No! Festival, which kicked off March 26 with a show at the Windsor and runs until March 29, features 30 local acts in various venues. It happens at the same time as JunoFest, which runs on March 28 and 29.
That said, the O(h) No! Festival is not positioning itself as an anti-JunoFest, says event organizer Rock Trembath, who runs local imprint Deafwish Records. Rather, he recognized that JunoFest couldn't possibly showcase all the great talent that exists in the city and was interested in picking up the slack, so to speak.
And it's not just local music that will be put in the spotlight. Trembath, who partnered with fellow local label Eat 'Em Up Records to put together the musical lineup, teamed up with standup comedian Dan Goldberg to put together a comedy competition as part of the festival, which goes down at Club 60 A.N.A.F. at 433 River Ave.
"There's a strong local subset of comedians that are talented," Trembath says, "and we wanted to showcase that scene as well."
On Friday night, the Civil Disobedients, the Perms, When Planets Align, Spicy Mojo, Alonelwalk and Tye Baker will play an all-ages pizza party at Underground Venue, which is located in the basement of 333 Garry St. The Garrick Centre will be hosting the Eat 'Em Up Beerfest featuring 77 Guns, Bunk Mustangs, Flesh Lite and Satanic Rights.
On Saturday night, the Underground Venue will host an all-day, all-ages lineup that includes everything from hip hop to hardcore. Greg Arcade, the Hours, Chivas & Kream, Beefdonut and Vampires are just some of the acts that will be taking the stage.
Trembath wanted to put an emphasis on making live music accessible to the under-18 set.
"The shows I saw when I was 14 or 15 had an impression," he says. "There's nothing like seeing loud music in a small room for the first time. I wanted to be able to offer that to people."
Trembath says the festival's existence is a tribute to the scene it's helping to highlight.
"I was surprised at how well it came together," he says. "Everyone is really dedicated to what we're doing."
For his part, Trembath has nothing against the Juno Awards -- but he feels they could be better.
"I think it's a bit ridiculous that we cling to 'Canadian' artists like Robin Thicke to appeal to wider audiences," he says. "(The Junos) should push the common music listener toward good Canadian music.
"We want to highlight the musicians who are trying to climb up on that stage."