While packing for a Summer away I inevitably got distracted. At first it was geeking out on Bloglovin’, but then when boxes of half forgotten treasures were cracked open and aired for the first time in years after being in storage, all was lost for any packing efforts. What I rediscovered in those boxes was a trove of cassettes, gig tees, mixed tapes, old photographs and zines.
It’s been almost 20 years since I went to my first concert – a festival in a parking lot in Ottawa called “Furnacefest” (not to be confused with the one held in Alabama in the 00’s). Created by Ottawa band Furnace Face with the intent to showcase local and national bands while getting the chance to headline their own festival, it was a pretty fantastic first concert experience.
This time of year always makes me think of those days. I had been cast as Mina in a local community theatre production of Dracula, and became really good friends with some of the older kids in the play.
It was the golden age of all ages shows, and those early days of High School were filled with $2 gigs at the Pit and zine making. My friends from the play had their own band, and a zine dedicated to Canadian alt darlings Sloan. I would often tag along with them to gigs and interviews with bands, acting as the photographer/videographer with my Dads old Minolta film camera and camcorder.
Suburbia, complete with its mind numbing repetitiveness and conservatism was where I grew up. But amidst the identical houses, Quickie Marts and the dreaded mall were some incredibly creative offshoots, championing the DIY.
Cut & paste photocopied zines were a way to communicate before the rise of the net, and I fondly remember the hours spent in my bedroom or at my friends houses working on various zines as well as collecting and reading others. There’s even a Zine Library in Toronto dedicated to preserving and raising awareness of this medium! How cool is that?
So as much as I might rage against (yes, the machine) or in this case the suburbs, I was able to make some very good, like minded friends and fill my hours with a healthy dose of DIY, theatre and music while living there. And though my music tastes may have changed and grown as I’ve gotten older, I still have a huge soft spot for 90’s Canadian Alternative.