Top 5 Bucket List Bands at Rockfest 2015

June 15th, 2015 by  |  Published in Concerts, News

Thrice has been lucky enough to keep the same members in the band since the band was formed in 1998.

Photo: Thrice has been lucky enough to keep the same members in the band since it was formed in 1998. (Left to right: Eddie Breckenridge, Teppei Teranishi, Dustin Kensrue, Riley Breckenridge)

Amnesia Rockfest has always brought bands to the area that we otherwise might never have seen here, and this year is no different. Five bands in particular stand out among the rest, offering music enthusiasts (like myself) the chance to see favourite bands for the first time.

I’ve been a punk-rock audiophile for a long time (20 years). For a large chunk of those two decades, I lived in a small town, with a full time job and no driver’s license. As a result, there was a large number of bands that I never had the chance to see.

Some of that changed when I moved to Ottawa in my mid-twenties, but a lack of decent mid-sized venues kept many bands away from the capital. Not only was Ottawa frequently passed over by touring American acts, but several of my favourite bands had broken up, seemingly for good.

Rockfest brings countless punk bands to the Ottawa area
In 2011, I went to my first Rockfest in Montebello, and my luck began to change. From old-school punk acts like the Descendents and CJ Ramone, to other favourites like Teenage Bottlerocket and Hot Water Music, the festival knocked more bands off of my bucket list than any festival ever has, or will.

Over the years, the festival continued to bring retired and absentee bands to the Ottawa area. Although I’ve seen Face to Face several times now, the 2012 edition of the festival was the first time I had ever seen them. The 2013 edition brought classic bands like Social Distortion, Black Flag and the Adolescents to the area, as well as 90’s punkers Millencolin and Rancid—all first-time viewings for yours truly.

Thanks to more terrific work from festival creator Alex Martel, this year’s edition continues its tradition of roping in bands I thought we would never see in this area again. Here are my top five bucket list bands at Rockfest 2015.

  1. System of a Down

Festival goers have been requesting this band for years, and now it’s finally happening. With songs that vary from hardcore to avant-garde metal (and a bit of punk rock, in my opinion), SOAD is the perfect headliner for this year’s edition. After putting out three LPs and a double album between the years of 1998 and 2005, the band went on hiatus in 2006, and didn’t return until 2010. Since then, they have toured sparingly, with just one date in 2013. Although they aren’t my favourite band this year, I’m still looking forward to seeing them—Toxicity rocked.

  1. Pixies

My introduction to the Pixies was the record Trompe Le Monde, back in the mid-nineties. Since they had already disbanded at the time, I didn’t count on seeing them play live any time soon. Two decades and a reunion later, I still haven’t seen the band play—despite the fact that somehow they squeaked through Ottawa in 2011 right under my nose (where was my mind?). Luckily, the band is still plugging away, even releasing a new album last year. Kudos to Martel for this savvy addition to the lineup.

  1. Refused

Back in 1998, Refused released The Shape of Punk to Come, a creative and potent record that was as daring as its title suggested. Although the record went on to amass critical acclaim and a massive cult audience, the band broke up just two months after it dropped. They reunited in 2011, and immediately began playing in front of larger crowds than they had during their initial run. This year, they play Montebello on the heels of releasing their first record in 17 years, titled Freedom.

  1. Thrice

Over the years, Thrice built a huge fanbase by staying true enough to their roots to keep their old audience, while evolving enough to expand it. Despite that, the band left their following behind to go on hiatus in 2012. After two years, fans began to wonder if Thrice had disbanded for good. Those fears were dispelled in early 2015 when the band announced a series of festival dates in the summer, including Amnesia Rockfest in Montebello. The Illusion of Safety and The Artist in the Ambulance are my favourites here, although their later work is musically superior.

  1. Satanic Surfers

I wasn’t the biggest fan of everybody’s favourite Swedish skate-punkers when I was young; I thought they needed to noodle less and melody more. They grew on me over the years though, starting with Going Nowhere Fast, which in retrospect is one of the best punk records released in 1999. Though they disbanded in 2007, this year they’re back—and Rockfest founder Alex Martel had something to do with it.

In a recent interview, Surfers frontman Rodrigo Alfaro revealed that the band had begun playing with the idea of reforming after an offer from Amnesia Rockfest. The band had fond memories of playing in Canada, so this year, they accepted. Joining them are fellow Swedish bands No Fun at All, Raised Fist, Randy, and of course, Refused.

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