Festivals aren’t always the easiest events to endure, but are usually worth the sore feet and ringing ears. The fifth Flourish Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick, was more than worth the week-long hangover of exhaustion that I will no doubt suffer through. It was a long time since I’d visited NB’s capital, and really had no reason to go back; however, with a festival this amazing, I’ll be back annually without a doubt. As much as I would love to relive the entire weekend minute by minute, nobody has the attention span to read that, so here’s my highlight reel of the weekend.
When I heard that Weakened Friends were playing this festival, without hesitation, I bought tickets and figured I’d sort out the details later. With their latest release of Common Blah, and seeing them at Halifax Pop Explosion in 2017, they have quickly jumped into every playlist I’ve made since, as well as high rankings in my list of favourite bands in general. With the right mix of accessible punk and heavy grunge influence, this heavy three-piece absolutely crushed their closing Friday set at The Wilsers Room. With a set list full of mostly new songs, those in attendance sang along to gems like “Blue Again”, “Hate Mail”, and “Waste”, while still hanging on to every word of older gems like “95”. Sonia Sturino and Annie Hoffman have absolutely perfected their show with the amount of energy and stage presence they have, not to mention the musical prowess they both exude. If I only saw this show, it was worth the 16 hours in the car.
Imagine if all those emo bands you loved in your late teens were angry instead of sad. This is what No, It’s Fine embodies. Cailen Pygott’s exceptional songwriting, while being surrounded with some of Halifax’s best musicians in KT Lamond on guitar (Like A Motorcycle), Victoria Cameron on bass (Town Heroes, Cameron, Floodland, Hello Delaware…you get it), and Chris Wilson behind the kit, makes for a slap in the face of heavy-hitting emo-punk vibes, with the emotion and rawness that makes you feel feelings that you can’t drink away. Opening for Weakened Friends was a combination almost as good as whiskey and my lips. Both bands turn it up to 11 and don’t hold back. It’s a jump into the deep end, instead of dipping a toe in.
We’re all over the winter, right? Well it’s time for those feel-good surf rock vibes to bring in the warm weather. With their airy Peach Kelli Pop-like sound, BBQT will have you foxtrotting into the sunset. Catchy and insatiable, it was impossible to not grin along to songs like “Moldy Melody”, “High Wasted”, and “Pepsi”. It’s always a great experience showing up to a gig, not knowing some of the bands, and leaving with a new love for one of them!
I’ve seen these guys before, and fell in love immediately. Their massive amounts of energy and musicianship are absolutely second to none. Their outlaw country feel is what turned me onto the genre as a whole. (Thank you!) And their songs are catchy, danceable, and easy to sing along to. When seeing them in Halifax, they certainly went hard, but to see them in their hometown was something special. Like Slowcoaster to Sydney, Matt Mays to Halifax, or Bruce Springsteen to New Jersey, The Hypochondriacs are absolutely Fredericton’s band! It has been a long time since I saw a bar show that packed, and that engaged. Front man Josh Bravener found himself, doused in sweat, finishing his set first in the crowd, and then on top of it, crowd-surfing his way into the hearts of all in attendance. If they’re in your town, country fan or not, NEVER miss a Hypos show….EVER.
What happens when a lounge band goes on a mushroom bender, following music festivals, and hanging with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard? Enter Elephants Gerald. Jazz-infused atmospheric pop rock rung out on the closing night of Flourish. Beautiful vocals rained over beautiful keyboard melodies, the funkiest of bass licks, and thunderous drums. Odd time signatures, getting absolutely lost in drawn-out jams, and crescendos galore took over the Wilsers room. It was a welcomed change from some straight-up rock from the weekend.
The Capital’s Overhaul – Art By Kristina Rolander
Admittedly, I don’t know much about art. However, I know that immersion into the Neon Forest Remix that was created by Kristina Rolander was something special to behold. I’ve seen many shows at The Capital over the years, but never has it felt like a different planet. Beautiful neon paint covered the walls, and cutouts hung from the ceiling to create a welcoming atmosphere into a magical forest that we were all lucky enough to experience. If other festivals could take notes on anything, it would be to embrace the immersive art aspect to create a different world for all of those in attendance.
What Jane Blanchard and Stefan Westner have created is incredibly special. Flourish Festival is inclusive, beautiful, exciting, and quite obviously holds a place in Frederictonians’ hearts. Between the rock camps for kids, diversity on and off the stages, the beautiful art, and the amazing acts everyone got to see, this festival is one of the best that the East Coast has to offer. I couldn’t have been happier to have been a part of it, and wish it all the success in the world in the years to come. HAPPY FLOURISH FIVE!