With the 2014 JUNO Awards on the doorstep it is time to brace for the gauntlet of outstanding musicians playing shows throughout Winnipeg. While the JUNOs themselves are a great Canadian event, JUNO weekend also plays host to over 100 regional, local, and national musical acts performing at JUNOfest. That may seem like a big list, but there are many talented acts who were still not included in the JUNOfest lineup, and because of this we now have the O(h) NO! Festival.
O(h) NO! Festival organizer Rock Trembath talks about this situation: “Although the JUNOfest team does their best to highlight local content, we felt that there was a lot of quality music that needed places to be heard during the week.”
Actively involved in the Winnipeg music community as the owner of DEAFWISH Records, Trembath witnessed how many local talents weren’t making the JUNOfest lineup, so he decided to help out. He contacted Eat ’Em Up Records, another local label, and worked with them along with a few local bands to patch together a series of shows. The O(h) NO! Festival now has a lineup of over 30 performers and will showcase musical acts ranging in genre from hip-hop to hard-core metal and will even include a comedy night.
“We really want to create something fun, eclectic, and unique to Winnipeg,” says Trembath.
The festival runs from Wednesday, March 26 until Saturday, March 29.
Wednesday is the big kickoff party with four high-volume garage rock acts at the Windsor Hotel.
Thursday gets switched up with a comedy night, the Crowning of the Comedy King event at Osborne’s A.N.A.F. Unit “Club 60,” awarding the best comedian the O(h) NO! comedy award.
Friday’s Rock’n’Roll Pizza Party at Underground Venue will showcase various rock talents from around Winnipeg, while four “sludgy” rock bands will also play the Garrick Hotel for the Eat ‘em Up Beerfest.
Saturday is the big O(h) NO! Underground Showcase at Underground Venue: hip-hop, punk, hard-core, and indie-pop groups will all be showcased during this wild final day.
While this festival has an equal stage for every performer, certain bands stand out: Mark Sultan from Montreal—one of only a few out-of-town performers—has a fantastic solo sound, 77 Guns play an energetic early-Black-Sabbath-sounding show, the Perms are a must-see band at the core of Winnipeg’s indie-rock community, and definitely don’t miss out on hip-hop artist $WAGWAR or the incredibly talented young rockers Spicy Mojo.
It being the first year of the festival, Trembath has only casually considered future options for O(h) NO!: “Next year’s JUNOs are in Hamilton, and I’m from Hamilton, so we have considered maybe making it a JUNO-following underground festival.”
Trembath is very proud of the all-ages shows on both Friday and Saturday: “It is becoming increasingly hard for young people to see live rock shows and I think that [these shows] are very influential.”
With the exception of the kickoff party ($15) and tickets to the comedy show ($5), all the rest are $10 at the door. Check out www.deafwish.com/ohno for more information.