BY JOE COSTELLO
We Unite! Festival will present more than twenty performers during three-days of free, all-ages concerts at the Civic Centre Community Room in Sydney during the East Coast Music Awards, March 4-6.
Headlining the three-night festival are 2009 ECMA winner Iron Giant, local rising stars Carmen Townsend & the Shakey Deals, and 2010 ECMA nominees We The Undersigned. All together, the festival lineup boasts 2010 ECMA nominees in five categories (Group Recording, Video, Rock Recording, Alternative Recording, Loud Recording) and showcasing artists from three official ECMA stages (Discovery Stage, Rock Stage, Loud Stage).
Presented by CBRM Recreation and We Unite! Promo & Design, the Festival will feature three shows at the Sydney Civic Centre Community Room. On the Sydney waterfront, next to the boardwalk stage, the festival houses itself in the middle of it all, with all the major hotels and music venues in the downtown core just steps away. We Unite! Festival also acknowledges the support of sponsors 101.9 The Giant, The Caper Times, and The Elegant to Junk Shop.
Thursday night the festival presents the 101.9 The Giant Festival Stage, headlined by Fredericton’s We, the Undersigned. The band “keeps the bar high for energy and creative heavy riffage without losing the underlying groove that keeps heads banging.” (Abort Magazine, 2009). As part of the metal elite that has grown from Halifax-based Diminished 5th Records, WTU has toured throughout Canada and played alongside Canadian mainstays such as Protest the Hero (Underground Operations), The End (Relapse Records), and Cancer Bats (Distort Records).
Also performing Thursday night are 2010 ECMA Alternative Nominees The Easy Bleeders. The band’s musical roots range from the heaviest of metal to the straw-hattiest of folk music… and it shows! Homegrown aggressors Unbidden, and Anatomical Disassembly have both gone through lineup changes but pulled out stellar performances at December’s annual Stoked for the Holidays. The Steady Rollin’ Band, from Moncton, make their first trek to the island to present their Doors-esque psychedelic rock, while Charlottetown’s The Sidewalks couple the festival with a later ECMA Rock Stage performance.
Friday night the festival presents the101.9 The Giant ROCK Stage, headlined by locals Carmen Townsend & the Shakey Deals. The busy trio, ramping up for the release of their debut EP, has been touring Canada relentlessly for the last three years sharing stages with The Rheostatics, Matt Mays, Blue Rodeo, Joel Plaskett, and Sloan. A true power rock trio, the band is on the cusp of big things for 2010.
The remainder of the lineup is some of the most talented performers on the East Coast. 2010 ECMA Rock Recording nominees Smothered in Hugs (now known as English Words) bring their dancey rock from Charlottetown to our island for the first time. From a different island, St. John’s, NL’s Roundelay makes the journey to play both the festival and an ECMA Discovery Stage spot. Halifax’s The Grass will also be striking double duty with a Discovery Stage spot, and are hoping to strike gold with a new lineup that includes ex-Rock Ranger bassist (and former Whitney Pier resident) Dan Baldwin. Rounding out the lineup are amazing locals The Roots & Rhythm Remain and North Sydney’s The Pranks, both staples of the local bar scene.
Saturday night the festival presents the 101.9 The Giant TOO LOUD Stage, headlined by 2009 ECMA Loud Recording winners Iron Giant and 2010 three-time ECMA nominees The Motorleague. The two bands, both also playing the ECMA Loud showcase, have shared a common history and are the perfect way to blow the roof off the closing show. The bands bear a common ancestry as well, with both bands hailing from Moncton, NB and Iron Giant’s PJ Dunphy the former founding bassist for The Motorleague.
A veritable who’s who of the East Coast rock scene makes up the rest of the lineup.
Locals Static in Action and The Ballroom Massacre are perhaps the two bands that will make the largest splash in 2010. Fresh off their eponymous debut double CD, Static in Action plans to support this with touring in the summer. The Ballroom Massacre have already made a reputation by playing shows on the mainland and is preparing for a new cd and touring as well.
Halifax’s Shelter with Thieves have back to back ECMA Loud Recording nominations (2009 and 2010) and just finished recording a new CD with Cone McCaslin of Sum 41. The Sleepless Nights, also of Halifax, are the sum of their parts. Featuring members of established East Coast bands Share, The Superfantastics, and The Establishment, The Sleepless Nights take elements of each to create a raw rock sound that bridges the gap between Wintersleep-like indie rock and more raw bands like Fugazi.
Rounding out the show are two bands that are making waves in their short existence. Charlottetown’s Racoon Bandit have been around for just over a year and already have garnered three Music PEI award nominations, including one for Best Group. Sydney’s And Here We Go rose from the ashes of three seminal local bands (Violent Theory, Richmond Hill, and Get It Get Down!) to take the area by storm. Debuting their Weakerthans / Constantines-esque sound over Thanksgiving weekend, the band has gone on to be a regular in the bar scene and a standout band at this year’s Stoked for the Holidays.
For the full lineup of We Unite! Festival, visit the WGO Events Calendar and search for “We Unite”.