November 12th, 2014 by Amelia
After all of you had fun at a Varning from Montreal this past weekend, there is another Canadian punk fest very soon after called Not Dead Yet Fest, from November 20th to November 23rd. It is in Toronto and is a revival of Fucked Up Weekend that used to happen in the early 2000s.
Greg — not to start off with a hard question, but I think this needs to be addressed. At ABC No Rio we had shows every Saturday at 3pm for years (and for years, I mean decades!). Sometimes other bookers would book shows at 3pm nearby somewhere else in the Lower East Side. I always felt like that really took away from scene unity and effected our draw — it meant that we had to pay bands less and shows were less crowded. That said, A Varning from Montreal has been happening for almost a decade around the first weekend of November. Your fest is on its fourth year. I know you know about Varning occuring basically the same time frame (Canada — big country, small scene) so why then book your fest in November?
Hard questions are good questions! I am absolutely well familiar with Varning. A band I am in has played it previously and I have always had fun going to see shows at Katacombes over the years. That said, to understand why Not Dead Yet is around the same time of year is to understand its history. Prior to Not Dead Yet, Fucked Up Weekend existed in Toronto. Those formed around an annual Fucked Up Halloween show that first happened in 2004. Anyways, from the first Fucked Up Halloween show, to the first weekend to the last one, I always really enjoyed the energy it brought to the city and the hardcore punk community here. Over time, after helping out a bunch, I eventually got involved with booking the bands for the last Fucked Up Weekend in 2009 — a year when DSB played both Fucked Up Weekend and Varning. In 2010, they decided to not do it anymore. In 2011, after deciding we missed having that event in 2010, Not Dead Yet began. So, strangely, it’s got a history that stretches back over ten years and really means a lot to us. We’re not stuck to one weekend in the fall either. This year we moved it back in November just to make sure FORWARD could play.
With all that said, over the past few years, there’s been a number of people who have visited both festivals from abroad, which I think is really, really cool. We love and support Varning and Katacombes and think that anyone that can attend, should! I’ll be in the UK this year for Static Shock Weekend, but am seriously bummed to be missing LOS MONJO!
I think Varning will be moved earlier in the year next year to make it more affordable for punks to go to both — most people can’t afford to take off work twice in one month. Why bring back this tradition of Toronto mid-fall fest again in 2011?
Essentially because 2010 sucked in Toronto without one!
Has Toronto had punk/hardcore fests in the past?
Yup, Toronto used to have a New Years Eve festivals in the 90s, then after that the Fucked Up Weekend festivals. While the NYE ones were a bit before my time, the Fucked Up Weekends were awesome.
How is the Toronto scene supportive of your fest?
Incredibly so. From all cross-sections of the scene, a lot of folks come out and support. When the festival is going on, we’ve got a ton of people helping out to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Do you have a lot of local bands playing?
There’s at least one local band playing every show. CAREER SUICIDE, HASSLER, ABSOLUT, VCR, HIRED GOONS, BLACK BARON, FARANG, WILD SIDE and more. Unfortunately, there are too many great local bands in the city these days — a lot who couldn’t play but who you’ll surely see next year: ANTI VIBES, TRIAGE, SPORE, TRUE. All are awesome!
How do you pay the bands coming from far away? Do you have to help with plane tickets for the bigger acts?
All of the bands get paid directly based on ticket sales. We also let them check out some shows free of cost. There are no sponsors whatsoever. In some cases, we absolutely need to help cover plane tickets. We do our best to make sure that the bands that are coming have little to no cost coming to play.
How early do you start planning for next years fest?
Truthfully, we’ve already started thinking about next year! It ends up taking a lot of planning and effort throughout the year to make it happen.
Do you flyer or do you just promote on the internet?
Flyers are mandatory. We do our best to cover the city even more than we usually do for shows year round. This year, we had our friends Ben and Tara at Gorilla Graphics, a punk-run printing company in Hamilton do lithograph prints of the poster this year and they turned out killer! We’ve also worked with artists locally and abroad to create unique flyers for each show. Flyering is the only way to expose new people to the fest and punk in general! Punk art is such an important part of the scene, it’d be a crime to not have any.
I agree. Do you feed bands and help them find places to stay?
We do our best to find bands places to stay. No one has been without a place, or ever will be! Food, with so many bands and so many shows, is a bit harder. We do work with local, vegan, punk-run businesses like Hot Beans and Through Being Cool to give bands and festival attendees a discount though.
Why do you feel fests are important? Do you think it contributes to international punk unity?
While I do think fests do contribute to international punk unity, most importantly I find Not Dead Yet gives younger kids in the scene a touchstone. It’s something that they can look forward to all year long. That’s easily the most important things to us. Toronto has a young, vibrant and diverse punk scene right now and we only want to make it better. It is a lot of fun to have friends from all over the world come together though!
That’s really cool when it seems like a long of punks are aging and scenes are getting older — I’m glad to hear Toronto has the youth! How many people do you think will come this year? What was the turnout like last year?
Honestly, it’s a very hard thing to predict. Last year, almost every show was over capacity. We hope we can replicate that this year. I think it’s safe to say hundreds of people travel from all over for it.
What can we expect this year?
A bunch of wicked hardcore and punk shows! Personally, I think FORWARD and MARKED MEN are gonna steal the show, but there is no shortage of wicked bands. I’m excited.
Do you have after-shows?
Yup — the after shows are some of the biggest and craziest shows of the festival. We’ve held them every year at a space called Soybomb, Toronto’s longest-running DIY spot. Jay is a remarkable human being, and the after-shows couldn’t be what they are without him and the rest of the folks at Soybomb.
How can we get tickets?
Folks can purchase tickets online at notdeadyet.bigcartel.com. If you’re in Toronto, you can scoop tickets at Rotate This, the record store with the best used selection in the city!
How can we best stay up to date?
All updates get posted at notdeadyettoronto.tumblr.com. Easiest way to get the info!
Any last words?
Support punk and support punks!