SubFest transforms the SUB into a festival grounds on March 6
“There’s going to be an ice cavern hallway dance party,” Mike Fong tells me. He isn’t talking about some swanky new club downtown, nor about an art installation. He’s talking about our very own Student Union Building and the transformation it’ll take on March 6. “There’ll be a time machine room where you’re in a speakeasy jazz lounge.”
For the first time in the building’s life, it’s going to become a festival stomping ground for SubFest. Unlike other music festivals around Halifax, SubFest is centred entirely within the Student Union Building – and is by the students, for the students.
“SubFest is a multimedia festival run by Dal to try and get students to support local music while simultaneously getting students involved with organizing,” says Fong. Mike Fong plays guitar in The WAYO, who’ll be headlining the festival. Fong has also been working with the event organizers to mediate between bands and management.
Come the evening of March 6, students of all ages will be allowed to wander through the SUB, towards any of the seven uniquely themed stages. Maps will be provided and an illuminated path will guide people to their destination. Most importantly, the whole shebang will only set you back five bucks if you show up before 9 pm.
Each of the seven stages will host a different style of music. The SUB lobby, for instance, will be designated for downtempo beats. Local punk enthusiasts might be more at home upstairs, in room 224. The NSPIRG office on the third floor will host an open mic and some acoustic sets, while Dal Jam set up shop in room 316. The Grawood is the only 19+ stage, where the festival headliners are scheduled.
Fong has also sent a shout out to amateur freestyle rappers, as a few acts might be playing around with improvisation. “We tried to provide a platform for new artists – especially students,” says Fong. “It’s easy for their work to get put on the backburner and go unnoticed, so we’re trying to inspire students to not lose hope.” The festival places a great deal of emphasis on student involvement. Initially the brainchild of DSU members Chloe Edwards and Ali Calladine, the two students created the Dalhousie Music Festival Collective with the help of two others, in order to pitch the concept to the DSU. “There’s a big movement in music that’s based on DYI [Do-It-Yourself ] and SubFest is a manifestation of that,” says Fong. He brings up Toronto’s Broken Social Scene and Arts and Crafts record label – wherein the independent ethos presides. “It’s about collaboration and bringing about a sense of community, not only for musicians, but for everybody who has something to contribute.”
Aside from being a celebration of the independent, SubFest is also intended as a salve for the winter blues. Fong mentioned the possibility of a booth where winter-weary souls can replenish their reserves with vitamins D and B.
While SubFest is nearly here, there is still plenty of work to be done, and the Dalhousie Music Festival Collective are accepting any volunteers who are interested. Inquire online.
The list of confirmed bands and DJs include
The Rubber Band,
DJ Denim Vest,
DJ Rana Encol,
The Mankos and
Mat Wilush once went to see Agent Orange on the outskirts of Toronto, where the beer was salty and drunken teenagers took turns sitting in a prop electric chair. The music had aged poorly. A mohawk’d middle-ager danced through the first couple songs, but quickly tired out. There just isn’t much room for surf rock in the world anymore. What next? Mat Wilush wants to know.
Mat is the Gazette's Arts Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @wilushwho and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.