The Sonic Boom festival has become a musical signpost for the end of summer. Every year since 2009, the event has brought together a variety of acts – from alt-rock to dance music to some of Canada’s best young bands. It has expanded from a one-day festival to a weekend-long epic.
This year features the most international lineup ever – and a new venue. Bands from Canada, the United States, England and Ireland are on the Labour Day weekend bill. Jack Black will be on stage with his act, Tenacious D. And anyone who has ever seen the weird and wonderful Flaming Lips knows they put on a show that mixes sci-fi, special effects, props and costumes; it’s a stunning event that’s part Saturday morning cartoon, part ’70s Russian sci-fi, part garage rock, with nods to Pink Floyd, The Who, obscure Japanese noise rock bands, jazz and even a hint of electronic music.
The festival will move across the street from the Northlands parking lot to Borden Park. According to Nhaelan McMillan, managing partner of The Union Ltd., which is organizing Sonic Boom, the stage will move just 300 metres, and its orientation will be the same.
He says the reason the move was made was to be more responsive to the festival-goers. The sound will actually be better, as it won’t echo off the hard pavement and off the faces of Northlands’ buildings. Being on grass, according to McMillan, will deaden the vibrations and make it friendlier to neighbours.
Most importantly, it’s more comfortable for concert-goers.
“For the people who want to lay down a blanket and make a base for the day, they can do that in the park,” McMillan says.
And, as any veteran of music festivals will tell you, standing for hours on end can be awfully hard on the knees and ankles. Being on grass allows for some natural shock absorption and gives you more chances to simply sit down during the lulls between sets.
McMillan says the City of Edmonton “has been great to deal with” in making the move.
“Northlands had also been great to us, but the festival has grown,” he says, while also citing the need to be on grass as the primary motivation for the move.
And, while the festival’s “move” represents the distance of about three football fields, parking and access is promised to be improved over previous years.