Arts & CultureCampus & City

Winterruption 2024: Top music highlights

In true Winterruption style, this year’s festival lineup offered an eclectic range of musical stylings and experiences.

Winterruption YEG is an annual multi-venue music and arts festival that took place from January 24 – 28. The event strives to bring the heat (and relief!) to Edmontonians during the deepest depth of the winter.

Winterruption prides itself in the diversity and inclusivity of its line-up. The festival features local and non-local musicians, comedians, and drag performers. Here are some of the best musical performances from this year’s lineup.

1. Shane Ghostkeeper

Shane Ghostkeeper
Breezy Prochnau Shane Ghostkeeper at Winterruption 2024.

A singer-songwriter’s most trusted friend is their acoustic guitar. When Ghostkeeper stepped out onto the stage solo and armed with his electric fender, audience members were curious. The soundscape comprising the Calgary artist’s set was about to become an unraveled mystery.

What followed was a rich, cohesive story showcasing songs from Ghostkeeper’s debut solo album For My People, a tribute to his family and Métis heritage. On the surface, Ghostkeeper’s songs were standard country: poignant lyrics carried along vast melodies.

However, the final products were far from classical. Ghostkeeper managed to infuse each song with a unique fuzzy texture made evermore intriguing by his percussive breath-control. The set felt reminiscent of the country-rock experimentation popularized by artists of the 70s, but punctuated by Ghostkeeper’s modern-day experiences.

2. Hot Garbage

Members of this Toronto group spent so long setting up and testing their instruments. It appeared for a moment that this tuning-party might take up the band’s entire time-slot. In the end however, the delicate preparation paid off.

hot garbage band
Breezy Prochnau Hot Garbage at Winterruption 2024.

With the same ease of turning a volume dial on a stereo, the band launched themselves and the audience into a psychedelia fever dream. Admittedly, the song lyrics were inaudible for most of the set. The zig-zagging rhythms decorated in reverb were simply too overpowering for any coherent words to be heard. Yet, the lack of lyrics was hardly a short-coming for the group. Instead, each subsequent song sounded more grand and robust than the last.

Just when one thought they were becoming lost in a sea of muffled guitar tones, a driving drum beat or bass-line would light the way again. Not for the faint of heart, Hot Garbage delivered one epic adventure.

3. Geese

Post-punk can hold many different meanings in modern-day music. For Brooklyn-band Geese, post-punk simply means experimentation with what sounds right in the moment, regardless of what genre these sounds tend to lean toward.

Carrying a Pink Floyd-like dynamic, the group’s best selling feature was their inclination for a good tempo change. Just when it seemed a song was winding down, each member would slide in effortlessly with a reviving interlude.

The voice of lead singer Cameron Winter had a guiding quality in the band’s musical efforts. It possessed a particular drawl that might be compared to Jim Morrison of The Doors. Despite their musical caliber, the group’s actions on-stage assured the audience they did not mean to take themselves too seriously. After exclaiming “I love Tim Hortons so much,” Winter granted the wish of one fan by bringing him up onstage to accompany the band on “Cowboy Nudes.” By the time the encore chant was ringing out, the audience was far from ready to let the fun end.

4. Peter Dreams with MOONRIIVR

Peter Dreams
Breezy Prochnau Peter Dreams at Winterruption 2024.

It might seem difficult to play a set at a music festival when you haven’t released any music. This was the case for Edmonton-native Peter Dreimanis, whose solo debut-record as Peter Dreams isn’t due until later this year. Nevertheless, Dreimanis’ status as frontman of alt-rock band July Talk allowed him to draw a sizeable crowd of receptive fans on which he could test his new material.

Backed by the Toronto indie-folk outfit MOONRIIVR, Dreimanis assumed his role as a tour-guide on a deeply personal musical journey. Rotating through acoustic ballads and pulsating rock progressions, the magic of the set-list was the unknowing. In a uniquely intimate moment, Dreimanis invited audience members to join him on stage for a stripped-down piano break. As listeners sat mesmerized among a sea of chords and amplifiers, the scene was akin to kids on a classroom floor. Dreimanis’ uncanny ability to interact with his audience made the show feel like one collective serenade, and a thrilling one at that.

5. Barry Paquin Roberge (BPR)

There are some instances when the listener knows they are in for a great show before the artist steps foot on stage. When the members of BPR emerged decked out in sequins and chain-link belts, this was one of those instances.

From the moment the band members picked up their instruments, the audience was sent spiralling through a time-machine. The landing point was somewhere between the psychedelic 60s and the disco craze of the 70s.

A group exclamation from the crowd was heard upon the start of each new song, a fresh rhythm signifying the opportunity to down another sip of the drink in hand or try out a new dance move. One notable component of the group’s sound was the flute stylings of Anna Frances Meyer. Meyer’s contributions were largely responsible for keeping the party propelling forward. Together, members of BPR created a cerebral experience whereby waves of energy continued radiating through the crowd even once the set was over.

Breezy Prochnau

Breezy is the 2023/24 Deputy Arts and Culture Editor. She's in the fifth year of her BSc in chemistry, minoring in philosophy. When she’s not working in the lab or writing papers, she enjoys surfing Spotify playlists to expand her eclectic music tastes or planning her next concert adventure.

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