Khyber Compilation II
Having existed as the iconic artistic haven in Halifax for decades, the Khyber is a revered instution, one that’s cemented firmly in the many facets of our perpetually changing community. Not just a hangout for NSCAD students and the hipster elite, the beautiful, archaic Barrington Street building has lent its space to everyone from up-and-coming indie acts to coming of age artisans—as well as lending its namesake to a pretty decent Joel Plaskett album. These days, however, people are mystified as to whether it’s still open, or what the hell even goes on there.
In an attempt to regain some of the infamy that’s being held captive in those hallowed halls, as well as keep the dream alive, we’re about to be hit by the second salacious installment in a series of music compilations that are geared towards not only paying tribute to our beloved, beautiful Khyber, but keeping it running. “I came up with the idea about a year and a half ago,” says Ryan Allen, the man behind the curtain of these cryptic compilations. “It was a slow process, but I just took it and ran with it. I just approached a bunch of bands I knew [for the first one] and asked them to record something new, or to dig up something unreleased. That was the easy part, though, you know? Everyone loves the Khyber, and everyone also loves getting some free promotion, so it was really a no brainer for them.”
The first installment hit Halifax last year, raising a significant amount of eyebrows and raking in around $800 to help curb some of the costs of keeping the Khyber going. “It was mostly about awareness,” admits Allen. “There were people who had no idea the Khyber had re-opened… hell, there were people who had no idea what the Khyber was. But there are a lot of people who really love that place, and I think with their help we got the word out, and I think it really dug up some press and attention for it.”
With the first floor of the Khyber no longer able to be utilized, there’s been a loss of immediate foot-traffic, and for a not-for-profit like the Khyber, relying on bank-loans is a slippery slope. So now, Allen thinks it’s about time to roll out a second compilation. “The first one went out of print, and instead of repressing it, I thought why not just make another one? Basically, what we’re trying to do is just raise awareness for the place and try to make it so we don’t have to rely on bank loans so heavily,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of help and support making this second one, a lot of bands on the compilation help run the Khyber, you know? This place is a little community, bands who practice here also help run the bar at shows, or friends who come to see shows will help take bottles out or clean up after shows. Everyone wants to see it succeed, and I think everyone who knows and uses the Khyber in any capacity has that sense of community, they want to help out. You don’t see that very often. You go to the Seahorse, and you see people going out of their way to give the venue and staff a hard time.”
Filled to the brim with the bright, shiny indie royalty of Halifax and beyond, the second compilation features everything from the inimitable quirk-rock of Quaker Parents and Old and Weird to heavy-hitting Halifax alumni like Dog Day. Released on cassette, CD and digitally, the compilation will rear its head at a release show at the Khyber on Saturday, March 3, a show that will see appearances by the aforemention Quaker Parents and Old and Weird, as well as a heap of other odds and ends.
As well as the Khyber compilation series, Allen also points out that the Khyber is exploring some other niche ways to fundraise—an attempt to avoid having to just blatantly ask for handouts. “We have a night flea market every now and then. It’s like a quintessential Khyber thing. A bunch of artists set up here and sell their stuff, it’s really great, we have some people play… it’s just a really awesome time. It gives local artists a chance to showcase their stuff, and it’s only like a $5 table fee… but it’s enough to cover our costs and to help the Khyber out. A lot of people use this space regularly, and I think they realize they can’t just take it for granted. You have to give a shit, you know? Because if you don’t, well, you’re just as screwed as the rest of us.”
So prove you give a shit by heading down to an iconic Halifax hangout this Saturday to dance your ass off to some blistering, mind-boggling indie rock and spare a few bucks to the people who are working themselves to death to keep some culture in this city.