Calgary’s biggest block party is set for this weekend, with East Town Get Down bringing dozens of local and international musicians to Forest Lawn.
With the festival now in its second year, organizers said they’re upping the ante with more venues and musicians.
The festival’s headliners include, Minneapolis-based P.O.S, Canadian metal favourite Anvil and local legend The Dudes.
The one-night-only festival starts on Saturday at 5:45 p.m., and runs until the early hours of Sunday morning. This year, there are 10 venues, including Paradise Lanes bowling alley and Jane Bond BBQ.
Organizers say the festival leverages 17th Avenue’s strengths. Also known as International Avenue, it features locally-owned businesses and restaurants, eager to welcome new patrons and host eclectic musical acts.
“I feel like in the Calgary music scene, a lot of the venues we usually play at are old-hat, and everyone is used to hearing their names,” said Bella White, a local singer-songwriter who’s performing at the festival for the second time. “East Town Get Down is a really cool festival, because we are broadening the locations where we have music in Calgary.”
The folk singer, who is a born-and-raised Calgarian, said she feels Forest Lawn has a bad reputation amongst people from other parts of the city.
“It’s nice to help break that stereotype,” she said.
Alison Karim-McSwiney, the executive director of International Avenue BRZ, said there are several venues along 17th that regularly bring in musical acts, but they don’t always get the attention they deserve. She says the model for the festival is South by Southwest, an annual music and film showcase in Austin, Texas that features performances in a combination of large and small venues.
Lyle Bell, a member of Edmonton-based band The Wet Secrets, said he’s looking forward to performing at East Town Get Down for the first time. He said if it turns out to be anything like South By Southwest, he’ll have a great time.
“I’ve been to South By 10 times,” Bell said. “My favourite thing about it was when I abandoned trying to go to the enormous shows, and started going to the tiny venues.
“I love seeing rock bands at tiny non-rock club venues. People go totally bonkers.”
Tickets for the festival are available online.