Last weekend marked the 19th year of St. Catharines’ annual SCENE Music Festival. SCENE, an acronym for St. Catharines Event for New Music Entertainment, has been ever growing since their debut in 1996, with this year being their most ambitious yet. Originally, the one day festival celebrated local acts and provided a platform for independent bands in the Niagara area. This year, the festival boasted larger stages and larger acts, and has extended to provide a whole weekend of music. As well, the main stage this year has moved to Montebello Park, while smaller bands took the stage at nearby bars. While this seemed like a good idea, in reality it was very hard to convince myself to make the trek in the scorching hot weather. The main stage hosted a slew of fantastic artists, so for the most part I was content with holing up in the park. I believe most of the other festival goers had the same idea, seeing as the park was packed while the streets were nearly deserted. So as a result, it seemed that many of the lesser known acts were slightly drowned out by the larger bands, which is somewhat contradictory to the festival’s original mission. As well, with the bigger lineup, set times took a hit. With a band taking the stage every hour, sets were in the half hour range, which is hardly enough to properly showcase each band. I suppose SCENE is just experiencing some growing pains as the festival evolves, which is all part of the process. I guess for bigger festivals it is as they say, mo money mo problems. On the flip side, the festival successfully proved that it is very diverse, and caters to a massive audience. Evidently, this year’s lineup covered all types of rock music, alternative music, and beyond, and SCENE managed to bring in likely record breaking crowds over the course of the weekend.
Some highlights of the second day:
Local band The Years kicked off the day. They had some catchy songs and unique sounds, do keep an eye out for this band.
Virginia to Vegas sang that song (you know which one) and Marissa of Crystalyne joined him on the stage.
Crystalyne was as adorable as ever, playing songs off their new release The Remedy. They filmed a music video during their set, unleashed several gigantic beach balls, and had their first ever crowd surfer.
Vancouver band The Zolas announced that the only compliment they will accept is “sweet piano.” Do scope their music for that sweet piano.
How does one rap over The Cure’s song “Close to Me”? Well Shad nailed it. TSOL is a fantastic record as is Flying Colours, Shad’s most recent release. Fun fact: Shad is a Laurier BBA alumnus.
Lights performed two songs off her new record, “Up We Go” and “Running With the Boys.” She also sang some songs from Siberia including “Flux and Flow” with Shad.
Arkells had the crowd all pumped up but unfortunately was cut off by the thunderstorm. Check their new record “High Noon” coming out in August.
Lastly, Marianas Trench was worth the wait and the drenching. As well, frontman Josh Ramsay told the crowd about his tiny horse.
SCENE was pretty great. Great music, great food, great times. Props to the festival organizers and security for handling the thunderstorm so well and ensuring a great experience for everyone. I’ve got vibes for days and I can’t wait to see what’s going down next year for SCENE’s 20th anniversary.