While the isolation of winter in Winnipeg causes people to go mad, at least we’re free to follow our muses down whatever rabbit hole of strange, self-satisfaction we please. All you need to do is look at a list of Winnipeg expats and hot commodities—like Alpha Couple or This Hisses—to see that we are the breeding ground for some of the strangest of the strange. Here are a few of my favorite weirdos:
Dark, gothic, grinding madness.
A perfect blend of dark synthesizers, heavy riffs, bone-crunching beats, and wailing vocals. If their sound is invigoratingly anachronistic, then their presentation is positively otherworldly. They look like the kind of band the Leviathan would invite to play Pinhead’s Malibu Beach Birthday Bash, by which I mean their horror/sci-fi-influenced theatrics are the kind of flamboyant shock rock guaranteed to tear your soul apart.
If you are looking to be Winnipeg’s resident shamanistic song and dance man, delighting fans by re-interpreting pop/rock standards and spinning original tales based on prairie legends and personal myths, it sucks to be you because the position has been filled.
Andrew Courtnage’s body resides in Winnipeg but his soul is a permanent resident of Black Rock City, Nevada. With a baritone voice that can melt the coldest heart at 40 below and a tendency to disappear behind his vintage organ only to reappear wearing a new costume, Smoky is a Winnipeg original that is sure leave an impression.
Merch Table Delite
Probably one of the most controversial acts this city has to offer right now. Executed with a flair for self-aggrandizing hyperbole and created by frontman Nick Friesen (the Uniter and the No Label Collective), nobody can decide whether this band is for real or an elaborate joke. The 10 albums they have released are so lo-fi that they are nearly unlistenable, the singer is not blessed with any natural vocal ability, and the live act is made up of mostly non-musicians.
Are they so earnest that they are blind to the fact that their reach exceeds their grasp? Or is the band a comment on a society so hungry for honesty it will ignore musical failings if it fits the predetermined stylistic signifiers of a genre like lo-fi?
Without an artist statement we will never know for sure.