There's so much concert action going on this weekend that I have no choice but to break this weekend's concert previews into three posts: One for Sault Ontario, one for Sault Michigan, and starting things off, one for Hempfest! That is the complete focus of this first post of the day, so without any further adieu, here's all that you need to know about this year's Hempfest entertainment!
Yes, the 13th annual marijuana culture festival is back on Poplardale Road in Ophir, Ontario this year under new management after it's initial cancellation in 2009 and a one year move to Moonbeam last year! Kudos again to organizer Robert Neron for bringing it back home where it belongs! I won't go too in depth as to the non-musical entertainment, but I will mention some key things and changes. This year's Hempfest is different from the last local installments in a few respects, including FREE admission for federal exemptees for medicinal marijuana with proper ID, some carnival/midway-ish entertainment, no charge for festival vendors, and 24/7 entertainment over the weekend! When the bands aren't playing, DJs will rock the second stage from midnight to 10:00 AM on Friday until Sunday (including former Renegades guitarist Jason "Wyza" Wysynski" Friday morning), so click here for the second stage schedule! Of course, if you're reading this, you're probably not at Hempfest yet, though remember that's it's a week long event this year! It started with just camping and good times on Monday, so you're free to head to Ophir right now to get started early! (Just be wary of the R.I.D.E. program.) For all current details on the non-main stage entertainment at this year's Hempfest, visit the Facebook event page and the official Facebook group!
Of course, being that this is The Sault Metal Scene, you know what we'll focus on, and leading to that, another nice development this year is the presence of a full schedule for the bands, which never happened (or at least never found it's way to me) under the festival's old ownership. All of the lineup information below (unless otherwise sourced) comes from the official Hempfest schedule posted here. I will remind you guys that this is obviously a 19+ event, and tickets are $15 a day to attend (so in other words, $30 for two days, $45 for three, or $60 for the remainder of the festival.) Advance tickets are NO LONGER on sale, you will have to pay at the gate at this point. If you're bringing your dog, it will have a $10 fee, with muzzles recommended if they have a tendency to bite. Now, to the lineups, but first, just a reminder that local horror punk quintet Frightlight, London hard rock trio Violet Fuse (featuring Saultite Thom Edwards), Vancouver metal band 4Ward, and Arizona solo artist Scott Huckabay are NOT on this year's lineup, having dropped out following the schedule adjustment from it's original timeframe later this month. As well, Saint Catharines rappers Theatre Crisp dropped out of the Friday schedule, but we'll approach their replacement in a bit. With that out of the way, who is playing this year?
TODAY'S lineup for Hempfest only contains one hard rock band, that being the returning Half Past, in their first local concert appearance in six months! It will also be the band's debut concert with new frontman Jordan Rains, who replaced Luke LeBlanc earlier this year. This should be very interesting to see how the new lineup does, and keep in mind that the band have been hyping on their pages that they'll have merchandise for sale! For the rest of the lineup today, Burlington reggae rockers The Killin' Time Band will headline at 10:30 PM & 12:15 AM for two sets, with local sideshow performer D.J. Williamson of The Dark Karnival Entertainment sandwiched in between. In descending order from there, local punk trio Redundant will take the stage at 9:00 PM tonight, preceded by Hamilton ska-punk band Lo-Fi at 7:30 PM, Half Past at 6:00 PM, and local folk trio The Blackberrys at 4:30 PM. The stage kicks off at 4:00 PM with opening ceremonies, the 4:20 siren, and the first rounds of the spitting & gram sprint contests in this year's Willy High Games. Remember, ticket information and lineup sources are above!
Sounds like a solid lineup of local and out of town entertainment, though if you crave metal, the best is yet to come! As for Half Past, fingers crossed that their first show with Jordan is a success! For a preview, here's an older Half Past lineup playing their song "War Inside My Head" last year!
Now to the Friday lineup, and there is both more bands and metal tomorrow! Three metal bands are on the schedule, including headliners Misery: The Metallica Xperience, a prominent Canadian tribute band who have notably played in Sault Ontario in the past! They have a great version of the Metallica sound, so definitely stay up to see them tomorrow night at 11:30 PM! For tribute band fans, also note that AC/DC tribute band Who Made Who will rock the Hempfest stage at 9:00 PM tomorrow night (and will also have a vendor's table this year!) No strangers to the Soo either, this very talented quintet will deliver a great set of AC/DC classics tomorrow night as well! And finally for metal, local standouts Garden of Bedlam return to Hempfest for a set full of their high energy originals at 4:30 PM as a replacement for Theater Crisp! Awesome to see them back at Hempfest, they'll tear it up once again, as they did in 2008 & 2009! For the rest of the lineup, D.J. Williamson returns for more sideshow feats between Misery & Who Made Who's sets at 10:45 PM, and before the main acts, Lo-Fi are back at 6:45 PM tomorrow, and are preceded by Garden of Bedlam at 4:30 PM, the second rounds of tonight's Willy High Games at 4:00 PM (plus the junkyard bong contest & the 4:20 siren), West Virginia rappers Northern Lights at 3:00 PM, and Blind River folk artists T.J. Kirby at 12:00 PM & Josh Odair at 1:30 PM respectively.
Note that the band Radar (not sure of who they are exactly) were also scheduled for 6:00 PM tomorrow, but also dropped out, thought they're still on for Saturday. As such, Garden of Bedlam will run later & Lo-Fi will start a bit earlier to help fill the gap. Again, check the above links for more lineup details & ticket information for the Friday schedule. Another solid lineup, mostly different from tonight's schedule too, so don't miss the bands on Friday! For a preview, here's Misery playing the Metallica classic "Creeping Death" in New Brunswick in 2005. If you're a fan of Metallica, AC/DC, and Garden of Bedlam, don't miss Hempfest tomorrow!
Now to the Saturday lineup, which mostly features bands seen on the previous nights, but it does have the most metal on this year's schedule! This time, the highest slotted metal band is Garden of Bedlam, who will play at 9:00 PM on Saturday night. The Saturday entertainment opens with a three-for-all of hard rock and metal, with Misery back at 3:00 PM, Who Made Who on at 1:30 PM, and Half Past opening on Saturday at 12:00 PM. As for the rest of the Saturday lineup, The Killin' Time Band again has two sets at the end of the night, at 11:15 PM and 1:00 AM, with D.J. Williamson again sandwiched in between at 12:15 AM. At 8:30 PM before Garden of Bedlam's set, there is apparently a Halloween costume contest, so bring yours to enter! Before that, the lineup features Lo-Fi at 7:30 PM, Radar (the only band not on an earlier night) at 7:00 PM, Northern Lights at 6:30 PM, and Redundant at 5:00 PM, with the finals of the previous night's Willy High Games (and the bucket race) at 4:00 PM, plus the 4:20 siren, with the opening three heavier bands before that. Of course, check the above links for more details.
For my money, this is the best night of the festival for heaviness and maximum bang for your buck, but that's subjective. No matter what, this is a quality lineup and don't miss it on Saturday night! For a preview, here's Garden of Bedlam at the 2008 Hempfest playing their original song "The Truth Shall Set You Free"!
As for the Sunday lineup, there is no metal to speak of, but an abbreviated set featuring Joshua Odair, T.J. Kirby, and The Blackberrys is scheduled from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM before the closing ceremony and one more 4:20 siren happen to end this year's Hempfest. So how's about all of that for this year's Hempfest schedule? Tons of great bands and what should be some awesome times celebrating marijuana culture and local music! If you smoke marijuana and/or believe in it's legalization, this is a great way to show your support and have some fun, and it's a great festival for music lovers as well, especially given the cheap daily price and the closeness to Sault Ontario! If I go, it will be Saturday, but a lot has to line up for me personally to make it down there. All of you guys should head down to Ophir at some point between TODAY and Sunday to enjoy Hempfest, just be wary of the R.I.D.E. program, as I assume they'll be out and about on the route to Ophir. For all current details, rules, schedules, and recommendations for this year's Hempfest, check the above links! Best of luck to Robert and the rest of the Hempfest organizers and staffers this year, and to all of the bands and fans, for what should be a great festival!
That's all for now, but stay tuned later today for another weekend concert preview post, this time detailing Sault Ontario-area concerts from Thursday-Saturday not involving Hempfest, including TONIGHT'S Roosevelt Hotel metal night, the Smeltzer reunion show tomorrow, and Full Circle's weekend set. Stay tuned!