The story behind Gridlock

The inside scoop on where the festival came from.

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Who's pumped for Wolf Parade? - SHAWN MCDONALD
  • Shawn McDonald
  • Who's pumped for Wolf Parade?

Gridlock Festival is the child of co-founders Matt McIntyre and Jeremy MacNeil. It’s something the two have wanted to do for years, and this summer they’ve mustered the funds, energy and guts necessary to take the leap.

MacNeil knows the biz—he’s been an independent concert promoter in Halifax for the past 14 years. “I’ve always wanted to do an outdoor summer festival and never really had the opportunity to do something from scratch,” says MacNeil.

Now that the festival is a reality, McIntyre says the co-founders are “wearing their biggest fear on their chest,” and aiming to show people they’re not afraid to do something new.

“It’s taken a lot of our own money…and hopes and prayers,” says McIntyre. Luckily, the support the festival has received on social media helps to take the “new business terror” off, he says.

The inspiration behind the name of the festival is twofold: “We basically looked at the city of Halifax on satellite imaging, and tried to figure out an area that interlocks all of the neighbourhoods,” says McIntyre. It’s also a play on “what people would warn us about starting an event here, that we would head butt with a bunch of gridlock, whether it’s bureaucratic or financial.”

The pair’s vision will spring to life when acts like Wolf Parade, American Football, Waxahatchee, Wintersleep, DIIV, Baths, Peach Kelli Pop, Beach Slang, Partner and many more perform on the grounds of Spatz Theatre/Citadel High School this weekend.

The festival founders aimed to build a line-up that’s curated and streamlined on bands who might not normally play here—or at least artists who haven’t played in Halifax for a while. McIntyre says the simplistically of a small scale business partnership helped them out a lot.

“Because it’s just the two of us, there’s a whole lot less democratic wrangling involved then if you were working with something that has a board of directors,” he says. “So we were able to just say, what do we think are bands that people this year would be psyched about and let’s just go for it and try to find them.”

McIntyre and MacNeil say they’re pumped about the line-up they did achieve, and are already making plans for next summer’s headliners. Gridlock will be an annual festival.

Both weekend and single-day passes, as well as individual tickets, are all available online. If you’re under 19, you don’t even have to sweat the cash! Both of Gridlock’s all-ages shows are free for under-aged festival goers (limited to capacity).

“The all-ages program is really important to both Matt and I, because we both grew up going to a lot of concerts and culture events in the city, but mainly specifically concerts at the Halifax Pavillon,” says MacNeil. “We wanted to do something to give back.”

If you want to ensure you’ll get into an all-ages show, you can RSVP in advance by emailing MacNeil at jeremy@gridlockfestival.com.

Gridlock has got those who can drink covered too; Stillwell will be running the festival’s beer bar. This was a key collaboration, says McIntyre.

“It means that people can go and get good quality, almost entirely local products,” he says.

“We wanted to make this a really homegrown festival.”

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