In our series Home Scene, Grid City asks music fans to share what they love most about the city’s music culture. This time we check in with musician, visual artist and Shifty Bits Circus organizer Penelope Stevens.
What’s your favourite music venue in the city?
The Capital is an obvious choice, but the place with the best vibes in Fredericton would have to be ReNeu Boutique. It’s a great venue because the acts are loosely curated – basically, no shitty bands get booked at ReNeu. It’s also pretty great that the people who show up to ReNeu shows are really intent on the music. It’s usually pretty silent between songs because everyone is listening intently instead of drunk-dialling their ex-boyfriends or whatever. I see a lot of tapes and vinyl sold at ReNeu, and the bands ALWAYS want to come back. Heather is KILLIN IT.
The one Fredericton band more people should know about but don’t.
Everybody should know The Waking Night. It’s crazy to me that our city signs don’t say “home of The Waking Night”. Country and blues scrambled up in trancy stoner rock? It’s a genius concept. They are the best. Mind you, I am dating the lead dude in that band, but I’m not biased. I started dating him because his band was so sick, not the other way around.
Also, Force Fields. I don’t go to church anymore because I go to Force Fields shows. I don’t know how they do it, but they twist up my soul. I hate them for it, but also can’t remember my life before Force Fields.
Name your favourite recent release by a Fredericton artist.
There are a few projects that will come out in the new year: Young Satan in Love is recording a huge album project, Nuages has something coming down the tubes and The Waking Night is ready to record again. 2015 will be a big year for the Fredericton scene, and I’m more excited about that than any recent releases.
If a live music experience could be summed up as a combination of time, place and artist, tell us about one show you’ve seen this year that ranks high on your list.
My favourite live musical moment happened during FollyFest ’11, the first time I saw Force Fields. I can’t explain it, but just believe me when I say that it changed me and how I see music.
Live music culture is an important part of Fredericton’s identity. If you could improve one aspect of the city’s music scene, what would it be?
We need more infrastructure in the music community to ensure it’s long-term sustainability. For example, the Fall of 2013 saw seven local bands break up, largely because everyone moved West to find work. When this happened it took a huge chunk out of our scene, and we’re only just starting to regenerate now, piece by piece. In a place like Fredericton, losing key members of the community, either musicians or fans, can greatly impact the success of the scene. I don’t know exactly how to address it, but we need to look at how we can continue to groom young musicians and fans, and how we can create an inclusive network that will regenerate after we’re gone.
Looking to the months ahead, what upcoming show is on your radar as a “must see”?
Big show on my radar? Christmas Cover Shows. Most Fredericton musicians plan for these shows all year long, and this year is no different. There are some BIG PLANS this year, people. Big plans.
Penelope Stevens is an art educator and musician based in Fredericton. When she’s not making feminist art or playing rock n roll, she’s petting cats and organizing community events like the Shifty Bits Circus.