The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Saskatoon’s cold winter made bearable by heartwarming Winterruption shows

By and in Culture
An Elder sits inside a tipi during the Winterruption event on Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon, SK on Jan. 24, 2020. | Heywood Yu

From Jan. 22 to 26, the city of Saskatoon was lit up with over 25 shows, featuring everything from death metal to folk to ‘90s rap.

With multiple shows on each night and the freedom to see any which one we wanted, the world of Winterruption was our oyster. On Thursday, an alt-rock group with an off-kilter sound named Weaves was playing at Amigos Cantina.

Weaves, consisting of vocalist Jasmyn Burke, Spencer Cole on drums, Zach Bines on bass and Morgan Waters on guitar, de­livered an absolutely crushing set that held our attention from start to finish. The performance ebbed and flowed between hys­teria and a mischievous energy, and the audience never knew what was coming at them next.

Burke’s voice wandered through the songs with unpre­dictable energy. Sometimes, she collapsed to the ground with gravelly vocal screams, and oth­er times, she talked to the crowd with a sly and delicate tone.

The band’s instrumentals were also incredibly diverse. Wa­ters’ electric guitar was layered with effects and at one point, he brought it up to his face, yell­ing into the body of the instru­ment to create a wildly distorted sound.

The band wrapped up with a cover of “My Generation” by The Who, taking the already rebel­lious song to a new level of inten­sity. We left the venue extremely impressed and as night one drew to a close, we wondered what would be able to top it.

Begonia, the stage name for Alexa Dirks, played at the Broadway Theatre on the Fri­day of Winterruption. Opening for her was Winnipeg-based hip hop ensemble Super Duty Tough Work, which featured insightful lyrics rapped over catchy horns and jazzy rhythms.

Performing songs off of her new album as well as older tracks of hers, she was able to take the crowd on an emotional roller­coaster with her unique lyrics and appealing stage presence.

With Dirks’ incomparable voice and drummer Cody Iwa­siuk’s groovy beats, the entire theatre was on their feet by the end of the show, dancing along to both of her encore songs. Be­gonia also put on a heart-tugging performance of her song “Hot Dog Stand,” which featured only keys and her voice.

After the show, people lined up in hopes of meeting the vocal powerhouse of the night and the band greeted every last person with a great amount of affection. Begonia’s show was unique, cap­tivating, emotional and power­ful.

After taking in three stellar shows, we checked out the out­door activities located on the Victoria School grounds. We circulated through the space, getting to experience festival activities such as bonfires, a per­formance by local multi-media artist Alejandro Romero and the Tipi Theatre.

Romero uses diverse artistic mediums to address social is­sues, and presented a thought-provoking performance art piece on the subject of migration. He interacted with the audience by leading them through the space, as well as playing audio clips to create an immersive experience.

The Tipi Theatre, presented by PAVED Arts, consisted of six short films made by Prairie-based Indigenous artists. The films were diverse in terms of content and production, some focusing on issues close to the heart of the creators and others were music videos to songs. A highlight was the lively short film Skate Break by Peatr Thom­as which combined elements of Indigenous and hip hop culture.

Despite some slightly cold toes by the end, listening to stories told around a fire was a high­light of Winterruption. Day four came to a close.

Supplied by Winterruption | Barbara Reimer

The final night featured a wrap-up show by Leif Vollebekk, Hannah Epperson and Little Criminals. This mellow evening of folk was a perfect close to the festival, and the sense of com­munity was strong in the warm Broadway Theatre. It was the type of music made for cold win­ter days, with delicate acoustic instruments and profound sto­ries creating an intimate show for the audience.

Epperson entranced the audi­ence with her signature looped violin and Vollebekk swapped between electric piano and gui­tars. A crowd favourite of the night was Little Criminals, con­sisting of Saskatoon locals Olivia Cayce and Taylor Jade, who per­formed haunting folk tunes that seemed almost ancient in nature.

Winterruption is a shining example of a community com­ing together to showcase art and a valuable reminder that every season is what you make it. This is a city that cares deeply about providing good music year­round.

Wyatt Henley, Holly Gilroy

Photos: Heywood Yu, Barbara Reimer

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