Swamp O’Clock Rock

Regina’s newest music festival has a toxic algae secret with awesome dance moves

Cover | by Stephen Whitworth / art by Darren Merinuk

Swamp Fest
Sept. 8–9

Willow Island & The German Club

We’re here today to talk about Swamp Fest: the latest, greatest and maybe most unexpected post-Labour Day event to come along in years.

What makes Swamp Fest so special? Well, for one thing, it’s an outdoor music festival in September, a month not known for outdoor music festivals ’round these parts.

For another: it’s haunted by an actual, real-life swamp monster. Allegedly.

Its name is TAB (“Toxic Algae Blob”), and it’s believed to be friendly.

More on that in a bit. First off, where did the idea for Swamp Fest — which runs Sept. 8–9 on Willow Island in Wascana Park, as well as at the German Club — come from?

I interviewed two of the festivals organizers, Eric Hill and Jeff M., to find out.

“It kinda came from a conversation with Colby Richardson about how there should be a festival on Willow Island,” says Jeff M. “And then Eric and I started doing things together… what did we do?”

“Making some art stuff, some weird video projects,” says Hill.

“We started talking about it last summer,” says Jeff. “I started putting on shows. I put on a show at Wascana bandstand, kind of like as a little bit of a test to see how navigating the bureaucratic world of Wascana Centre Authority would go.”

Apparently it went well. “People were stoked to have a show at an alternative venue,” says Jeff.

And thus, Swamp Fest was born.

Response, says Jeff, is really good.

“Everyone’s been super supportive,” Jeff says. “We’re already half sold out of weekend passes and most of the musicians we approached wanted to be involved.”

About those musicians: it’s a good starting line-up. Swamp Fest boasts acts from each Prairie province, as well as British Columbia. Some of the names to get excited about: Saskatoon doom-surfers The Garrys, Regina’s Orbital Express and The Florals, Basic Nature from Winnipeg, Calgary riff-rockers Woodhawk and Vancouver heavy-rock folk poets Summering. You can see the full roster online at swampfest.ca.

Is there an overriding musical theme to Swamp Fest?  “Mostly guitar-based bands, I guess,” says Jeff. “garage and psych-rock.”

“There’s some sort of darkness to the bands, I find,” says Hill. “But they’re fun. Funny, and kind of moody.”

And what can people coming to this inaugural Swamp Fest expect?

“They can expect some surprises, along with just experiencing some bands they’ll be seeing for the first time,” says Hill. “There’ll also be some interactive elements, with a bit of a performance element. There’s going to be some sightings of a swamp creature.”

Ah yes, TAB.

“There’s rumours of it being summoned by the music,” says Hill.

“I thought that I saw a swamp monster on the list of people who bought tickets,” says Jeff. “So I think we can expect him to be there.

So there you have it — Regina’s newest, indoor-outdoor music extravaganza. It might be a festival this city never expected but I think we’ll quickly find out it’s one we need.

Swamp Monsters named TAB, and all.  ❧


Meet The Monster

Swamp Fest’s resident monster/spirit animal is a shape-shifting blob of toxic algae named TAB. If you’re at the festival, the odds of a sighting are very, very high. Here’s what you need to know if you have a close encounter of the TAB kind.

KNOW YOUR TAB The creature is likely to be visible only under certain weather conditions and at specific times of day. Unfortunately, no one is completely sure what these times are or what kind of weather TAB likes. That said, it’s attracted to music and revelry, so there’s a good chance you’ll find TAB grooving in Swamp Fest’s dance zone. Just look for what organizer Eric Hill calls a “green, blobby figure, somewhat humanoid, possibly with fingers.”

KARMA KONCERNS “Tab is generally friendly,” says organizer Jeff M. “The only reason it might attack is if you’re sending out a lot of bad karma.” Jeff adds that this is more of an issue with accumulated bad karma, so if you’re just crabby that day, you probably don’t have to worry about being devoured. “Just be aware,” says Jeff.

TAB AROUND TOWN Surprisingly, the creature isn’t restricted to Wascana lake — it’s been known to roam. “TAB can survive out of water, and studies have shown that TAB is drawn to loud music, so there’s a good chance it will be attracted to the German Club,” says Jeff.

For more information about Swamp Fest’s algae mascot, buy a ticket. Ya slacker. /SW