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Whoop up Days with The Arkells, Dear Rouge, The Dirty Nil
Fri, Aug 23
Lethbridge Exhibition Park - Lethbridge


Time: 7 p.m.

Tickets:$43 at gate, $36 advance

The Abrams, Garrett Gregory, Justin Hogg Band are at the Let Er buck Saloon.

7 p.m. The Dirty Nil

Luke Bentham: Guitar and Vocals
Kyle Fisher: Drums
Ross Miller: Bass and Vocals

The Dirty Nil play rock and roll. Loud, distorted, and out of control, they play like it’s a fever they’re trying to sweat out. Reveling in the din of distorted guitars, pounding drums, and desperately howled vocals, the Hamilton Ontario three-piece makes music for turntables and hi-fi’s - music for dive bars and house parties - for beer drinking and joint smoking - for road trips and barbecues - for fighting and yelling and shouting and singing and screaming and howling - for sweating and bleeding - trying and failing and trying again anyways. Gravel-in-your guts, spit-in-your-eye, staggering, bloodthirsty rock and roll. They have two 7"s available that capture the snarl and destructive noise they create. The Dirty Nil play rock and roll - cause they couldn’t do a damn thing else if they tried.

 8 p.m Dear Rouge

Danielle McTaggart
Drew McTaggart

If there’s one constant in life, it’s this: nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable, for better or for worse—it’s the sinister shadow lurking behind the sunniest day, the silver lining that offsets every cloud. That mutability is something with which the members of Dear Rouge are intimately familiar. Since putting out their debut EP in 2012, Drew and Danielle McTaggart have been on a somewhat breathtaking upward trajectory. That independent release led to another one, and the accolades began to flood in: a B.C.–based radio award, songwriting prizes, a sweet record deal, charting singles, and a 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year followed in short order.

For all intents and purposes, says Drew, it was the most ecstatic period of their lives. He and Danielle—partners in life and art—had quit their day jobs to focus on music full-time; they’d wholly channeled their energies into honing their sinewy, hook-driven indie rock. “It was the highest time of our lives,” he says now. “But we realized that, at the same time, a lot of our friends back home in Vancouver were going through incredibly hard experiences.” The contrast was jarring. While the McTaggarts were gearing up to work on their sophomore LP, Drew’s cousin passed away; other friends were in the midst of harrowing life transitions. Before long, they realized that the contrast between those emotional extremes had provided a psychological backdrop for Dear Rouge’s creative process. “It really got us thinking,” says Danielle, “half the album became about the joys we were experiencing, while half the album was about pain and hardships.”

With writing and recording came clarity, and what Dear Rouge realized was this: regardless of what you’re going through at a given moment, that reality is always in flux. Equal parts hopeful and harrowing, that epiphany is at the heart of what became Phases, the pair’s stellar, stadium-sized revelation of an album. Created through sessions with carefully chosen collaborators—including aces Tawgs Salter and Mike Wise, West Coast stalwart Steve Bays, producer Ryan Worsley, Canadian indie visionary Dan Mangan, pop savant Sterling Fox, and others, Phases captures a massive stride forward in the band’s evolution.

The ethos of the album title is encapsulated in the songs themselves, which neatly map out the all-too-human experience of being ferried through constantly changing states of mood and mind. On tracks like “Wicked Thing” and “Live Through the Night,” Danielle explores darker psychic recesses, homing in on how affection can veer toward obsession, and how past demons can thwart forgiveness. She shifts gears for the exuberant fizz of “Boys and Blondes,” offering up a sly anthem of feminist empowerment, and taps into a kind of epic grace for “Stolen Days,” a gorgeous tribute to Drew’s late cousin.

If Dear Rouge’s approach to Phases could be summed up in a phrase, it would be this: “grit and gloss.” It’s a mantra that sums up the balance of sheen (pristine synths, Danielle’s laser-focused vocals) and punchy grime (unfettered guitars, propulsive percussion)—and, says Drew, it speaks to “who we are as people.” That yearning for equilibrium and authenticity was enhanced by their decision to produce Phases in studios across North America: they did stints in Toronto, Montreal, and Nashville, as well as back home in Vancouver, and spent time polishing and perfecting the songs in New York City. Being away from home, the McTaggarts explain, was liberating, daunting, and wholly necessary. Being immersed in NYC culture—from indie bands at the Knitting Factory to art exhibitions at the MOMA, from Broadway shows to the neon dazzle and hectic bustle of Times Square—provided ample inspiration. And outside their familiar bubble, they felt compelled to work harder and strive for higher standards of excellence.

The results speak for themselves. In its open embrace of life’s unpredictability and its dedication to clearheaded songwriting that resonates long after the last hook, the last beat, the last note has died out, Phases marks…well, a new phase in Dear Rouge’s development. It’s a document of both the emotional depths Drew and Danielle McTaggart plumbed to come up with unflinchingly personal, honest material, and the ground they covered in their efforts to push themselves sonically and aesthetically. More importantly, it’s a truly awesome listen, whether you opt for a choose-your-own-adventure tour through individual tracks or an immersive emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end.


9:30 p.m. The Arkells

Nick Dika
Mike DeAngelis
Tim Oxford
Max Kerman
Anthony Carone

Arkells are widely considered one of the most passionate, exuberant and in-demand live bands working today. At home in Canada they radio mainstays, sport-sync shoe-ins and out of the box marketers, and have remained ever present - building awareness and personal community experiences around their live shows and new music at every turn. The most emblematic example of this is The Rally, last summer’s hometown concert that sold 24,000 tickets and made it one of the biggest domestic shows in the country. To follow came North American and international headline touring that included their first sold-out concert at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena. Arkells’ touring over the last year has cumulatively raised over $100K for charity, via the band’s partnership with Plus1, and the band has sold over 100,000 tickets domestically. Hailed by The Globe and Mail as “the right kind of band for this decade,” Arkells continue to follow and adapt to the changing landscape of the industry – not a small feat for a rock band. This summer they continue to tour international festivals, prior to more headline dates in support of Rally Cry this fall.


“Our attitude was, let’s make this record as wild and weird and adventurous as we want it to be,” Arkells singer Max Kerman says. “We felt that doing things that aren’t traditional rock ‘n’ roll with heavy guitars is ok as long as it still feels like us. But at the same time, let’s remember that at our core, we’re an awesome rock band so let’s make some awesome rock ‘n’ roll music.”
Cue RALLY CRY, Arkells’ fifth studio album and most pointedly powerful effort thus far, built upon voluble riffs, elastic bass grooves and incandescent pop melodies, with hooks and choruses that passionately galvanize and electrify. Long known for their exceptional songwriting and high-energy performances, the Hamilton, ON-based quintet – singer Kerman, guitarist Mike DeAngelis, bassist Nick Dika, keyboardist/arranger Anthony Carone, and drummer Tim Oxford – reveal on RALLY CRY a heretofore unheard soulfulness that elevates their new songs to places that, while connected to a new approach, feel perfectly in tune with who the band is and always has been. From the get go with the album-opening “Hand Me Downs,” potent brass, cinemascope string arrangements and propulsive choruses reveal that RALLY CRY has the size and scope to match Arkells’ ambition and ever-growing audience that love the band for the uniquely raw energy that is all their own.
“We always aspire to universal messages,” Kerman says, “but ones that deliver in ways that make them idiosyncratic. We want to have songs that are catchy and awesome to sing along to, but also that dig into something really interesting and different.”
Arkells first came together in 2006, with a moniker adopted from Hamilton’s Arkell Street and an impassioned, adventurous, and distinctly modern approach towards their music. Debuting with 2008’s JACKSON SQUARE, the band instantly proved creatively ambitious and intensely hard working, touring hard and driving their music further every step of the way. That ethos has never changed. Not ones to stop or slow down, RALLY CRY was recorded as Arkells toured behind 2016’s MORNING REPORT and its 2017 follow-up single, “Knocking At The Door,” a standalone blockbuster which spent 14 weeks at #1 on the Canadian Alternative chart on its way to multiple JUNO Award nominations including “Single of the Year.” Indeed, “Knocking At The Door” proved far more than just a rock radio favorite – it became an ever-present staple of television sports coverage all over North America, including the Super Bowl, World Series, and U.S. Open.
What happens to a song after you’re done recording it isn’t up to you,” Kerman says. “Convergence needs to happen – time and place and luck. Where the song lands in the culture, you don’t have anything to do with that. All you can do is your best, then put it out and keep working.”
Both MORNING REPORT and “Knocking At The Door” saw Arkells pushing themselves towards bold new ideas of what it means to be a rock band in the modern world. Their success – both creatively and commercially – encouraged the band to take more chances next time around, to challenge themselves and their fan base even further.
Arkells re-enlisted JUNO Award-winning producer Eric Ratz – whose previous collaborations with the band includes “Knocking At The Door” as well as engineering their JUNO-winning third album, 2014’s HIGH NOON – and hit the studio whenever their busy tour itinerary would allow. Coming in straight from the road allowed the band to bring all the fire of their increasingly powerful live show to the sessions, imbuing the LP with a rare urgency in both song and performance.
“We had all this energy,” Kerman says, “so we wanted to go in there and just document what we felt as a band.”
RALLY CRY expertly evinces the hard juxtaposition of being limitless while also staying true to your own idiom. For example, first single “Relentless” is classic Arkells despite marking the band’s first usage of a sample, its hypnotic riff chopped from of South African artist Sello (Chicco) Twala’s “Sixolele Baba.”
“Paul Simon talks about how the first time he heard African music,” Kerman says, “the guitars reminded him of early ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, how when he looks for sounds he’s looking for things are both exotic and familiar to him. That’s how I feel about ‘Relentless’ and the Chicco song – there’s something about that chord progression that just felt familiar to me, very comforting. But then there’s also something about it that is very foreign to me. Being ok with doing something different, that’s a really good place to be.”
An ardent admirer of populist artists spanning Springsteen and Strummer to Chance and Kendrick, the band sees it as their professional duty to confront the issues they see in the world around them. Though Arkells have long waved their progressive bona fides in such songs as 2008’s “No Champagne Socialist,” RALLY CRY highlights such as “People’s Champ” and “Company Man” are as charged as anything anyone has released in this current environment, directly targeting those in charge down in the Lower 48.
“Writing a political song is less about trying to hit someone over the head with your message,” Kerman says, “but trying to articulate something that’s thoughtful, something that comes from a unique vantage point.
“We have a real appreciation for America. We appreciate all of its beauty and glory. But then the luxury that we have is that when you’re not living inside the belly of the beast, you’re able to recognize some of the blind spots it might have. The vantage point of being Canadian and observing America allows us to ask a lot of questions because we have a different perspective on it.”
While recording RALLY CRY, Arkells got the big idea to celebrate summer 2018 with a homecoming concert at Hamilton’s Tim Horton’s Field. “The Rally,” as it was to be known, was booked in October, with a plan to only sell tickets on the stadium’s floor and lower bowl. But when The Rally was finally announced in February, demand proved so strong that Arkells had no choice but to open up the full stadium and 24,000 rabid fans attended.
RALLY CRY – which takes its title from a lyric in “Relentless,” “blood, sweat, tears of joy/That’s what I call a rally cry” – makes it quite plain that Arkells sound and vision was definitely meant for the big rooms. “Saturday Night” and the sweeping “Show Me Don’t Tell Me” are strikingly direct and immediately engaging, their festival field filling hooks imbued with a heart-on-its-sleeve lyricism fit to reach across borders and break down even the strongest of barriers.
“Our music is very outward looking,” Kerman says. “It’s not an insular experience. Especially in the digital age, where everybody is always on their devices — to have these big moments of communal feeling is that much more special. You’re actually out of the house, surrounded by like-mined people, sharing a common experience – as the front guy, I think about that a lot, how I can make that connection feel real.Though the state of rock music is quite different than it was but a decade ago, Arkells have adopted a time-honored approach towards being a band, building a faithful fan following night by night, town by town, building a community with each and every gig.
“It’s about showing up,” Kerman says. “Becoming part of people’s lives. There’s a direct correlation between how many times we’ve played a city and how many people are there, like a very obvious line on a graph.”
Brimming with confidence and a determined openness, RALLY CRY marks a milestone on what has already been an undeniably atypical journey as well as a resonant signpost towards future triumphs. Armed with their most powerful musical statement yet, Arkells are determined to continue defying expectations and resisting easy pigeonholes, working hard while always keeping focus on what matters most – the people.
“Nothing has ever happened for Arkells overnight,” Kerman says. “We just hope more people come to the gig next time and then slowly but surely, we can build up something real. A lot of bands have their moment, but it can be fleeting. If you keep working at it, keep trusting that your songs are meaningful, keep going out every night and performing your hearts out, an audience will come to you.”


Lethbridge Exhibition Park   -   Website
3401 Parkside Drive South
T1J 4R3
Country: ca


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