Halifax's underground music festival, the Obey Convention, kicks off with a free show at Lost and Found tonight. I'll be here holding your hand through the weekend, but here are two little pre-interviews with Divorce Records and Tobias Rochman of Grand Trine to get you prepared.
Darcy Spidle, manager of noise/ punk/ experimental label and distributor Divorce Records, has been running the Obey Convention since 2007, with a growing number of shows each year. Obey’s mission is a “festival of free ideas in both music and art,” and this year’s lineup includes an art show at Lost and Found, an experimental video screening, workshops and a zine and record fair, in addition to the music performances. I spoke with Spidle for some festival background.
How did the first Obey Convention get started?
“The first Obey Convention was just three shows—-we were bringing in this band from California, Bastard Noise, they’re the band that pretty much defined the genre of power violence. They were friends of Sandy [Saunders], Torso (local noise musician). The show was great, it was really polarizing for the audience. I like doing shows that put people to the test.”
So you started the festival kind of incidentally?
“Yeah, this band was coming, I thought it would be cool to build a little festival around it. The next year I thought we’d make it a little bigger, bring in some punk bands from out of out. The year before [the first Obey Convention] we’d done a couple shows at the One World, and it’s just been steadily growing, now there are a lot of people involved.
I think it’s a good size now. I’ve got so many people helping out, I can kind of let it run itself. We’re trying to be a lot more diverse this year, I don’t know if we even have an agenda any more. We’ve got bands like Dog Day playing that make it a little more accessible. When it’s just punk and noise bands people can find it alienating. Still, I can see common threads from Torso to Dog Day—-they all have an interest in being experimental, a willingness to explore ideas.”
Spidle is mum on big names that fell through or are anticipated through the summer and for next year’s festival, saying only, “We went for some smaller bands, and more of them.”
“It’s great working with [some of the other organizers and volunteers for Obey]. I get this sense of how good people are in Halifax.” Last year’s Saturday night show at Gus’s Pub was tainted by a crowd heckler who broke a window, which the bar asked Spidle to cover the repair costs for—-a big deal with Divorce Records’ budget already strained and a baby on the way. “Twenty-four hours later we had half the replacement costs covered just by donations. The community here is great like that.”