A Guide To Sappyfest 2016

By Jennifer Hyc, Cover Photo via Halevents

New Brunswick’s best kept secret returns for its eleventh instalment this coming weekend—July 29-July 31—and from the looks of its stellar line-up, you won’t be spending much time agonizing about how Radiohead is playing just a couple of provinces west—and this is coming from someone who had a ticket to the ill-fated Downsview Park show three years ago. Despite having never seen my alternative-rock heroes, the choice to attend Sappyfest was a clear one.

Located in the quiet and almost blatantly duck-themed town of Sackville, the marsh is home to Mount Allison University students for roughly eight months of the year before turning into a bustling underground music haven for three days (although a related festival, Stereophonic, is hosted every January as well). For those three days, Sackville trades its largely unsuspecting and rustic charm for electricity and sonic vibrance, drawing in more diverse artists and attendees with each passing year.

Here are some of my picks for the festival weekend, but to be clear, you really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose to put your time towards. The limited number of stages essentially guarantees that you will see the bulk of what Sappy has to offer without major conflicts. Tickets are available for $95.50 for the weekend or $60-70 for a day pass. 

Friday, June 29

Dilly Dally (Mainstage Tent, 10:00 PM)—With a shiny Pitchfork-approved debut album under their studded belts, the Toronto-based four-piece’s presence cannot possibly go unnoticed. Katie Monks’ voice not only pierces through any and all prior expectations, but annihilates them to a pulp. In brief, their sound is one part feminist rage and two parts pure, unadulterated filth, all while retaining melody and structure. They’re playing fresh from the major stage at Wayhome Music & Arts this past weekend, so don’t miss the chance to see them in intimate quarters before they undoubtedly hit stardom.



Tuns (Mainstage Tent 11:00 PM)—Introducing the Maritime indie rock “supergroup” you’ve unknowingly been waiting for! The buoyant rhythms and sweet melodies will keep you dancing well into the early morning, and with just under a month to go before their debut album is released—only one song is currently available for streaming—you’ll get an exclusive look into the Sloan/Super Friendz/Inbreds collaboration early on, thus securing your much-deserved underground indie cred’.



Petra Glynt (Royal Canadian Legion, 1:00 AM)—Sure, she shares ties (and possibly some hairstyles) with the Polaris Prize nominee Grimes, but Petra Glynt is very much a multi-dimensional artist in her own right. Glynt incorporates a background in visual art into her stage set-up, and builds sonic and rhythmic landscapes—her 2013 album, for instances, is called Of This Land. Not only will her set be a treat for the eyes and ears, but her lyrics are also heavily engaged with feminist and social justice issues. With so many dimensions, you may find yourself analyzing her set long after the weekend is over.



Saturday, July 30

Sorrey (Mainstage Tent, 12:00 PM)—Hailing from the very real dream-world of Prince Edward Island, Sorrey will be gracing the stage with airy pop melodies, adding some sweetness and light to the rock-heavy festival lineup. The swoon-worthy songstress’s voice is soaked in romance, and is sure to soothe even the most hung-over festival-goer. Her music may come off as a whisper in comparison to some of the other artists on the bill, but her message is one that aims straight for the gut.



Hooded Fang (Mainstage Tent, 3:00 PM)—Formed in Toronto and named after a sandwich sold in Little Portugal, Hooded Fang have leaped from their humble indie-rock origins to the post-punk dissonance of their latest LP, Venus On Edge. Frantic guitars and skittering rhythms meld to form an entirely new, living, breathing organism going into a full-blown panic attack. If bared teeth aren’t exactly your thing, they will likely pull out material from their breezier album, Tosta Mista.



Little Scream (Mainstage Tent, 9:00 PM)—I was first introduced to Little Scream when she opened for Sufjan Stevens on his Carrie And Lowell tour, performing at the historic Massey Hall in Toronto. She shared a story about an encounter with a fan, who likened her voice to “the sound of a hundred angels reaching orgasm.” Not only was this the compliment to crush all compliments, but it’s pretty darn accurate. On 2016’s Cult Following, produced by Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry and featuring indie heavyweights Sufjan Stevens, Sharon Van Etten, and The National, Laurel Sprengelmeyer’s music ebbs and flows with danceable grooves and emotional weight.



Ought (Mainstage Tent, 11:00 PM)—Critically-acclaimed, with a knack for throwing listeners deep into an existential abyss, the Montreal-based post-punk quartet will have you reminding yourself that “everything is gonna be okay.” With equal parts devastating and hopefully exuberance, Ought have drawn comparisons to everything from Talking Heads to The Fall. I may even go as far as to say that “Beautiful Blue Sky” is the one of the greatest songs written in 2015. If you are anything like me and hang onto every word that comes from the band, maybe you should check out the Universal Dawn literary event, featuring frontman Tim Darcy and hosted by Andrew Patterson and Geordie Miller at the Vogue Cinema on Sunday, July 31 at 12 PM.



Sunday, July 31

Julie Doiron And The Wooden Stars (Mainstage Tent, 8:00 PM)—On Sunday night, consider taking a step back from the alternative rock stars of the near future, and jump way back to 1999, when respected Acadian songstress Julie Doiron collaborated and released an album with Ottawa’s The Wooden Stars. In 2000, that album, Julie Doiron And The Wooden Stars, won the Juno award for Alternative Album of the Year and also recently celebrated its fifteenth anniversary with a handful of shows. Few performances are quite as Canadian as this.



Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire (Mainstage Tent 7:00 PM)—New Brunswick’s very own are set to combust and set the room ablaze on Sunday night by means of some vaguely sinister synths, classic rock guitar riffs, and bluesy eccentricity. Frontman Serge Brideau seems hell-bent on putting on a show that is both joyful and unforgiving, a feat that is accentuated by his onstage getups (or lack of them). Peculiarity mixed in with good ol’ rock n roll spirit are sure to make a lasting impression on closing night.


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