Spawned out of a little Halloween party hosted by a pre-fame Fucked Up, the Not Dead Yet music festival has ballooned into a full-scale annual happening that offers the best of modern-day punk, hardcore, and more. Each fall, some of the most aggressive bands worldwide descend on Toronto for a few days of blissfully loud catharsis.
Helmed by Greg Benedetto (who pens the Stuck in the City blog and helps run all-ages space S.H.I.B.G.Bs), NDY has slowly built up a positive reputation amongst artists and is a key source of support for a genre that continues to thrive in the underground, unbeknownst to those with the “punk is dead” mentality.
If you’ve never heard of NDY, and are a fan of hard, heavy-hitting music in any way, it’s about time you get acquainted. Here are the top five reasons to check it out this year.
It’s an excuse to explore Toronto’s DIY spaces.
Toronto has a growing DIY music culture, one that’s spawned a litany of unconventional concert venues catering to unconventional music for all-ages crowds. Of the nine total venues in participation for NDY 2015, at least half are smaller artist-run or community oriented music spots, which Benedetto says are a priority to include each year. The newest is D-Beatstro, a vegan cafe and art hub that opened this past spring thanks in part to a Kickstarter campaign and support from the local punk scene. Soybomb, Double Double Land, and others are set to join with more established venues, such as the Horseshoe Tavern and Silver Dollar, to host hardcore parties of all sizes.
Catch bands you’ll never have the chance to see again.
While NDY 2015 offers frequent Toronto visitors like Title Fight and lots of homegrown talent, it’ll also feature some one-of-a-kind appearances that local die-hard punks can salivate over. After just more than a decade, Georgia hardcore outfit Foundation is breaking up, and their NDY slot is the last one scheduled in Canada. There’s also Una Bèstia Incontrolable, a guttural and psychedelic representation of Barcelona’s burgeoning heavy music scene, making their only planned North American appearance this year.
Discover what punk sounds like around the world right now.
NDY outdoes most of Toronto’s mainstream festivals with its cultural diversity, drawing in a truly international array of punk representations. This year’s version will host bands from France, Spain, Australia, Mexico, London, and Berlin among others. Even the band choices from within the US and Canada display a lot of cultural variety – check out Compton’s Sadicos or Calgary’s Desgraciadios for example, who both feature Spanish-language vocalists.
Revel in a simple, no-bullshit festival system.
Some music festivals like to set up their admission system like an increasingly elaborate maze – “the Level 7 Priority Pass gets you into all the shows, except for ones in venues more than 800 sq. ft. and with a name ending in the letter G, but only on nights where there’s a full moon!”
NDY is way easier to figure out: buy tickets to the shows you want, skip the rest. If you really need help navigating the schedule, Benedetto has thrown the whole thing into a Google Excel sheet and map, which is so wonderfully new-school punk rock I can’t even.
The concerts are just part of the fun.
There’s lots to do at this year’s NDY aside from standard gig hopping. Opening the fest is an art show at the newly minted Faith/Void record shop, featuring the works of roughly 20 artists who’ve been active in the scene via flyer designs, album artwork, and other similar means. Also at the shop will be the return of the NDY record swap, complimented with a discussion panel on punk’s current status headed up by Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham and author Tony Rettman. And, if you want to live out your dream of fronting a loud and angry band, head to Double Double Land on opening night for the karaoke after party.