One of Canada’s biggest music festivals, SCENE music festival, marked their 19th year on Saturday June 28th and Sunday June 29, 2014 to kick off the Canada Day Long Weekend. Since its beginning in 1996, the festival has expanded from 800 fans of a few bands to an average of 6,000 fans of over 100 bands spread through downtown St. Catharines. This year with thousands of music fans, over one hundred artists, and many venues, SCENE Music Festival was expanded into a two-day festival and the main stage was moved to Montebello Park for the first time ever.
Upon your arrival at Montebello Park you can already feel the excitement as people enter the festival. This year there were many options in regards to tickets for the event. For the first time ever at SCENE Fest, limited tickets were being sold at the door for individual venues which meant that if a guest wanted to only check out one of the shows, they have the option of paying only $10-$20 (depending on the venue) instead of the full ticket price.
There was a good variety of vendors, sponsor booths, band merchandise and food trucks available within Montebello Park including Smirnoff, TOMS, Pistonhead, Boathouse, BeaverTails and many more. These booths provided everything from free samples to fun and interactive games and prizes.
Even though we got there late into the afternoon we knew that Partycat’s set was something we couldn’t miss! From the very beginning front man, Joshua Cottreau, did what he does best. He used his crazy energy to get even those who might have not known Partycat to become a fan by the end of the set. The rest of the band was just as crazy. As mentioned in an interview with Mike Zancai and Steve Sap, the band will and will always go The Xtra Mile whenever they can, especially when it comes to their music. It was evident that everyone in the band was doing what they loved to do. The fans fed off the energy making it an amazing and interactive set. Partycat is a band who knows how to put on a show!
Up next we decided to check out Monster Truck, another crowd favorite. Back for a second year drawing a larger crowd each time the guys from Hamilton (Monster Truck) truly know how to rock. Playing hits like “The Lion,” “Righteous Smoke,” and “Seven seas blue,” it was hard not to sing and bob your head to every song.
Directly after Monster Truck, The Sheepdogs were next to take on the main stage. Representing the Saskatchewan flag and coming out with a beer in hand, it was clear that these guys are true west coast Canadians. After winning the spot to be Rolling Stone’s first unsigned band to appear on the cover in 2011, their success has continued ever since. With a cold drink in hand and singing along with a group of friends while listening to the 70’s inspired rock of the sheepdogs just screams summer.
Abandon All Ships were the last band we decided to check out before calling it a night. playing both new and old songs, the band really knew how to get the crowd going. whether you like soft melodies or hardcore breakdowns, Abandon All Ships has it all. Ending with their crowd favorite single “Take One Last Breath” watching Abandon All Ships was a perfect way to end day one of SCENE Fest.
Sunday, day two of the festival, consisted of great talent on the main stage including Marianas Trench, The Arkells, Lights, The Years, Virginia To Vegas, Crystalyne and more. Though Montebello Park was the central location for the festival as it included the main admissions area, vendors, and the main stage, a huge part of SCENE includes the pub-crawl to different venues around St. Catharines as well. All the venues were within walking distance making it easy to sample each of the venues and find artists that you’ve never heard of. Walking through downtown St. Catharines you could feel the electricity, hear the music, and even see some music videos being filmed.
One of the acts that actually included the audience in their music video was Crystalyne. Crystalyne rocked the Montebello Park stage playing songs off of their EP ‘The Remedy’, releasing beach balls into the crowd and inviting everyone to join in for the music video recording.
The Main stage provided many other great artists throughout the day. The Years, a local band, kicked off the day with unique and appealing music that got the crowd pumped up. Virginia to Vegas followed Derik Baker completed his first full set compiling of both new music as well as ones already loved by the audience such as ‘We Are Stars” which Marissa of Crystalyne joined him on stage to sing. Both The Zolas and Shad played amazing sets keeping the audience captivated.
LIGHTS took the stage at 7 p.m. performing both songs off of her new record including “Up We Go” and “Running With the Boys” as well as songs from her album ‘Siberia’.
Following LIGHTS, The Arkells put on a pumped up set that was sadly cut short due to the heavy thunderstorm that came through. The audience waited through the storm chanting on The Arkells to come back on stage but unfortunately the storm surpassed the 15minute-waiting period and so they had to shut the set down. The guests stood through the thunderstorm by taking cover under the pavilion, underneath trees, or simply standing in the rain. After much anticipation the rain finally slowed down and it was announced that the show WOULD go on with Marianas Trench taking the stage. Josh Ramsay kept the audience in laughter and in love by putting a comedic spin on the set that Marianas Trench was playing and included the audience in the singing of the music, which was incredible and kept the audience entertained.
The SCENE Music Festival definitely delivered in their 19th year. The festival not only brought a huge variety of amazing music live in one weekend and an opportunity for artists to share their talents. It was also an incredible event to celebrate the Canada Long Weekend. It is remarkable how much SCENE Music Festival has evolved throughout the years from a small festival to one that is known throughout Canada and gets better year after year. Keep it up SCENE FEST! Can’t wait to see what is planned for the 20th anniversary next year!
[Review written by Stephanie Puccinelli (Saturday) & Sharon McDonald(Sunday)]
[Photo Credits: Melissa Campo]