Published Dec 01, 2015Steam Whistle Unsigned — the Canadian concert series that promotes the best up-and-coming acts — will return in the New Year (more on that below). In the meantime, we checked in with some past performers to find out a few of their highlights from 2015. Check out their thoughts below, but first, read about Steam Whistle Unsigned's first concert of the year with HighKicks at Calgary's The Palomino on January 22.
Don't forget to visit steamwhistle.ca/unsigned to find more great shows in your area.
Friday, January 22 at The Palomino, 109 7th Avenue Southwest, Calgary, AB
When asked to describe his band HighKicks (pictured above) in just one sentence, frontman Danny Vacon is quick to respond: "Amped up party rock."
A fan of all things rock'n'roll, Vacon — a staple in the Calgary music scene thanks to his other projects, the Dudes and Dojo Workhorse — first felt the tickle to start a new band after witnessing local drummer Matt Doherty (of This City Defects fame) perform live.
From there, the two began jamming and, rather than recruit two more players to round out their unit, they decided to dial it back and keep their sound strictly to drums, fuzz bass and vocals. They had their first show just a month after forming.
Fans of the Alberta music scene may see some similarities between them and another set of local legends. "We're pretty much a Whitey Houston rip-off band," Vacon admits with a laugh, adding that the Edmonton outfit was a big inspiration when they first began. But with their high-octane performances and classic, hard-rocking sound, they've been steadily carving out a segment of the Calgary music scene that is distinctly their own.
According to Vacon, fans won't have to wait long to hear new material from the band. "Winter is such a weight, especially in Calgary," he says, "so I'm looking forward to doing a lot less outdoor fun things and a lot more fun things in the basement."
Recently, that's included working on a number of new songs, some of which will be debuted live at shows scheduled into the New Year — including the band's headlining Steam Whistle Unsigned set at Calgary hotspot The Palomino on January 22.
Although it's too early to tell how the songs will fully take shape, Vacon says their sound will continue to have the obliterating fuzz and unbridled energy of their earlier material, but with an added bit of consistency and complexity.
"Matt's always been a great musician and I've always kind of sucked," he jokes. "But he's such a keener, he forces me to jam with him and my skills are getting better."
See (and hear) for yourself by catching the band live at The Palomino on January 22. Just don't expect to see any actual high kicks.
"It's kind of ironic," he says about their band name. "I'm quite inflexible."
Steam Whistle Unsigned Alumni Talk Their 2015
"We put out our first record [Sore]… and got really good at playing Grand Theft Auto V." — Dilly Dally's Katie Monks. (Photo by Corbin Smith; shot at Toronto Unsigned #31)
Not only did the OBGMs play Riot Fest, Osheaga and SXSW, but also toured Europe for the first time. (Photo by Corbin Smith; shot at Toronto Unsigned #27)
"Releasing my record; Touring the record with Dan Mangan and Hayden; Completing my first triathlon; Lying to people about doing a triathlon." — Matthew Swann (aka Astral Swans). (Photo by Amy Jo Espetveidt; shot at Unsigned Calgary on May 29, 2015)
BC songwriter JP Maurice scored second place and $75,000 from The PEAK Performance Project. (Photo by Christine McAvoy; shot at Vancouver Unsigned #5)
"Realizing the new realm that my career has entered and where it can go from here." — Brendan Philip. (Photo by Yannick Anton; shot at Toronto Unsigned #30)