This story is over 5 years old.

We Captured the Hellish Magic of Calgary's Underground Garbage Daze Fest in Photos

It looked like a hot, sweaty mess.
June 9, 2016, 3:45pm

Career Suicide, photos by the author It was tough trying to identify the common thread that strung the acts together at the fourth installment of Garbage Daze. Over three days, Garbage Daze— themed this year as Garbage Daze in the Digital Age — held a variety of basement and after party, house shows and art exhibitions at Motion Gallery. On Friday night, Toronto hardcore denizens Career Suicide joined Edmonton’s No Problem for a shared basement venue bill that had both bands narrowly avoiding ceiling-to-head collisions. Jumping further down the rabbit hole that night was a bill featuring the dilated shoegaze of San Francisco’s LSD & the Search For God, prior to an arresting late set from the ear obliterating psych/noise/punks from Arizona, Destruction Unit. Calgary natives Dreamwhip soothed a crowd of Saturday afternoon festival attendees in recovery mode; while Trans FX, from Olympia WA, put on a set that was equal parts inside joke and performance art project. Dark modular techno artist Borys captivated the audience from behind a fractal of synth modules and wires. Damien Dubrovnik (from Copenhagen, Denmark) and Marshstepper (Tempe, AZ) performed a set that left everyone’s ears, eyes, and minds completely eviscerated.


It was during Marshsteppers set when frontman Nick Nappa wore three masks, screamed, and bashed a contact mic with a chain that I looked over and saw one of the festival organizers violently nodding in approval. The clarity struck me then: the curatorial choice of bringing artists together who ranged from bubblegum garage rock to Scandinavian death industrial was unapologetically self-indulgent and deliberately confrontational. Festival organizers Jason Scharf and Elijah Carnat-Gronnerud arranged Garbage Daze specifically for those terminally bored by overground sensibilities. The ethos that tied the acts appearing at Garbage Daze together was profoundly punk; it was challenging by design. Garbage Daze is a rare chance to catch high-wattage underground artists make an appearance in a western Canadian prairie city. Noisey was there to capture the hellish magic (view the photos below) and caught up with a few of the bands to ask about their take on the festival and underground scene.

Liam Zanin

Noisey: What drew you to Garbage Daze?
Graeme MacKinnon, No Problem: The current reality of underground punk and hardcore is festivals. Unfortunately, gone [are] the days of up and coming bands doing long haul touring so festivals have become one of the only ways for people in the frozen tundra to catch certain bands before they release a demo tape, a 7", maybe an LP and break up. Not a lot of bands have the ambition to travel up here, so it's great when people out here fill the void, and create their own fun. Punks in Alberta are crazy, so it would be silly for No Problem to not take part in the Garbage Daze chaos and party where all the wild fucks from western Canada congregate. It's like going to the Manson family reunion and singing a few fucked up songs around the camp fire. Jes Aurelius, Destruction Unit: Kindred spirits. Elijah, Jason and Evangelos with Garbage Daze… Dave, Brandi, Ian in Edmonton, wonderful people. No Problem, Rhythm Of Cruelty, The Strap, Bongsample, Moss Harvest, Borys, just really good crews up in Alberta, how could you turn it down? The whole weekend was beautiful. I still can't believe they pulled it off.


Ian Rowley, Boothman: Apart from being asked to play, it's always a nice and crazy weekend to hang with friends in Calgary. The eclectic mix of groups this year from all over definitely caught my attention as well.

Jason Borys, Borys: The feeling that there is a unified spirit between the underground punk, noise and techno scenes that have been curated for this festival. Though the festival covers a few different genres there is a definite a connection between the sub-cultures involved. Even though musically they may sound quite different I think many of the bands playing Garbage Daze approach their art from a true DIY punk aesthetic. Even amongst the techno artists there is a real "street" feel to all the acts playing the festival. This common thread causes a blurring of the lines creating a natural pollination between the noise, techno and punk sub-cultures.

Jonah Falco, Career Suicide: We haven't been to Calgary in almost ten years, and this was the perfect opportunity to return. There's an envious kind of dedication here to making sure this town stays on the map. In a place that might otherwise get written off as a "healthy but violent oil town" or some other weird clash of ideas, having a strong subculture and a longstanding punk history is pretty much enough for us to want to come visit.


Since they’ve titled this year's edition Garbage Daze in the Digital Age, How do you feel about the state of the underground music scene in the digital age?
Rowley: The digital age we're in right now is a bit of a double-edged sword in my opinion. It's exciting and boring. It's inspiring and depressing. You just have to wade through the endless amount of information to find something that sticks. I don't want to sound jaded though because there's very interesting and amazing stuff being made.


MacKinnon: I think No Problem has always gone against the trends, so in some ways we will always be the analog component in the digital age.

Aurelius: It is better than ever. Anyone who says there isn't anything interesting going on, is just not doing anything interesting themselves. Because if it exists in Edmonton, Calgary, Phoenix… it exists everywhere.

Borys: Underground music in the digital age is thriving! The sheer volume of underground music being shared in the dark corners of the Internet can be overwhelming. If you can't find a sound and a tribe to connect with, you are not looking hard enough!!

Falco: There's just this constant infinity of music you can experience at any given moment. On a festival like GD, which seems kind of half hardcore punk, half electronic, and Wreckless Eric, it's a pretty good version of probably what every person who had previously nuzzled themselves into a cultural corner is capable of stretching their tastes to. In theory, it's the most unsecretive, self-improving, mind-expanding, barrier breaking, self-aggrandizing, ego-fueling, selfishly, instantly mythologizing, connective, gratifying, easy era any music fan could hope for. Then again we only release vinyl and play hardcore punk, so we may not actually understand the digital age in any way.

The Strap No Problem

Damien Dubrovnik Marshstepper Destruction Unit Boothman


Bong Sample Dream Whip

LSD & the Search for God Levi Manchak is a writer and photographer living in Edmonton. Follow him on Twitter.