Since its introduction in 1998, Stoked for the Holidays has meant much more than just a day of music to the group of people who call the music scene home. For some, it is a way to reconnect with friends who are home for the holidays. For others, it’s a way to see a number of bands that normally wouldn’t appear together all under one roof. Without a doubt, Stoked for the Holidays has become a staple in the holiday traditions of many local music lovers.
In 1998, Stoked for the Holidays begun as an initiative by local promoter Scott Gillard. Taking place at the Centre 200 concourse in the midst of Sydney’s burgeoning underground music explosion, the show featured 12 acts performing over the day including Ladies Room (which featured a pre-Rock Ranger Jay Smith), Dark Waters, and pivotal local groups such as the $ellout$, 77 Impala Special, and Blindside. Carrying on over the years, Stoked has included well known performers such as Slowcoaster, Greg MacPherson, Tom Fun Orchestra, Mess Folk, Sprag Session, Carmen Townsend, and Carlton Stone.
Since 2007, friends GIllian Hillier and Joe Costello have taken on the endeavour of putting together the show. Holding true to the traditional format of the ’12 Bands of Christmas’ and having to make hard judgement calls on who is able to play, the pair looks forward to putting together the event each year. Among the initiatives being taken by the pair are the inclusion of bands from Richmond and Inverness counties such as last year’s The Town Heroes and this year’s Pioneer Video, increased exposure to solo performances, and a much more musically diverse lineup than ever before. They hope that growth and innovation will continue as the event evolves.
This year, Stoked for the Holidays will take place at two venues on Friday, December 21. At 4pm, the all ages event will occur at the Civic Centre Round Room on the Sydney Waterfront. This event will feature 7 performances from 4-9 as well as the premiere of Scenery 3, a skate film produced by CBLocals creator Harry Doyle. Admission is $10 at the door. At 11pm, the show moves to the 19+ confines of the Elks Lodge on Bentinck St. This event will feature 3 performances from 11-2 as well as an encore showing of Scenery 3. Admission is $8 for this event.
Among the bands playing this year, there are a few new names that deserve some added mention. Pioneer Video, from Inverness/Mabou, are a progressive/indie trio that have been touring the Maritimes for the last number of years. A product of St. FX in Antigonish, the trio is made of Andrew Rankin on guitar/vocals and twins Kyle and Keith MacDonald on the drums and bass respectively. Throwing together captivating song structures, an endearing personality, and dancey rhythms, the band creates something dynamic and unique. If you like bands like Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, and Arcade Fire, you’ll find Pioneer Video to be quite a joy to watch.
Things have been pretty quiet on the Yellow front since 2006. With principle songwriter Alicia Penney moonlighting in bands such as Tom Fun Orchestra, Static in Action, Billie Yvette Avenue, and performing copious amounts of solo shows, the band took a backseat to these quite active endeavours. Active mostly from 2002-2006 in different incarnations, the band was a hard hitting rock group that captured the hearts and minds of that particular scene. Having toured through the eastern parts of Canada and releasing ‘The Heat’ll be in the Grooves, Right?”, the band seemed on the brink of success when lineup and priority changes derailed them. Now, with an all star lineup featuring Devon Strang (ex-Slowcoaster/Tom Fun), Jason Burke (The Shithawks/Stygian Sky), Harry Doyle (Static in Action), and Mike Morrison (ex-Rock Ranger/Mastodon Ridge), the songs are given new life and will soar once again upon the powerful waves of Alicia’s voice.
Other performances this year will take place from singer songwriter Adam White, folk group Bella Rebellion, iconic punks Ricochet, metal group Moxham Castle, hardcore group The Shithawks, rockers Ladyslippers, and young indie band The Dirty Rabbit Choir. For more information on the shows, visit the Stoked for the Holidays event page.