Sonic Boom 2015 – Edmonton

A few weeks ago while searching for events in our fair city of Edmonton, I discovered that Tenacious D, the rock band fronted by actor/musician Jack Black, was coming to town. If you haven’t heard of Tenacious D, they’re kind of like what would happen if Meatloaf and Spinal Tap fell into a nuclear fusion reactor. We’ve watched School of Rock and Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny more than a few times, so we thought it would be fun to see Jack Black perform live.

Tenacious D wouldn’t be performing a solo concert, however. They were just one band of many, performing at a two-day alternative rock festival called Sonic Boom. Other performers included Hozier, Ellie Goulding, Brandon Flowers, Alexisonfire, Big Data, and Tokyo Police Club, just to name a few.

To be honest we weren’t very familiar with many of the other bands, though we’d at least heard of a few of them. The price for a one-day pass to Sonic Boom was $110, and a weekend pass was $200, which was good value if you were interested in two or more bands. But we really only wanted to see Tenacious D, so $110 was a bit pricey just to see one group. With this in mind, I entered a few contests online to try to win tickets to the festival instead.

I had forgotten all about the music festival until Friday afternoon, when I received an email with Ticketfly tickets attached. I had won two general admission passes for the full two-day festival! (Thanks again SONiC 102.9!) Since it was good for both days, we decided to attend both Saturday and Sunday.

Unfortunately, it ended up being rainy and cold (about 10C) for both days of the festival. It just figured that we hardly had a lick of rain all spring and summer, and the first weekend of September ended up being the wettest of the whole year. But it was worse for our southern neighbours down in Calgary – their alternative rock festival, X-Fest, was cancelled completely due to rain and adverse weather conditions. Luckily those concert-goers were told they could come up to Edmonton and their tickets would be honoured at our festival, which featured the same artists.

Sonic Boom 2015

A little rain never stopped us from having fun!

There were several tents set up with merchandise, games of chance and a handful of contests to enter. But more importantly, there was a nice selection of food trucks, most of which had lines of 40-80 people waiting to be served. On Saturday we tried a food truck called Bushmen’s Smokehouse, which was from Bonnyville, about two-and-half hours away from Edmonton. The pulled pork sandwiches were really tasty, and their poutine was worth the half-hour wait in line.

We caught Brandon Flowers’ performance, followed by Hozier, before calling it a day at the ripe hour of 9pm. We were cold and wet, and not as well dressed as we should have been for standing around for so long.

Unfortunately on our walk back to the LRT stadium station, we failed to make the correct turn and ended up reaching Jasper Avenue. We were finally starting to warm up by then, so we decided to see how far we could walk instead of backtracking to get back to the LRT. As it turns out, it’s completely doable to walk the 30+ blocks from Borden Park to the Legislative Grounds where we parked – if you have about an hour to spare. The 5km walk was actually quite pleasant, despite the light but constant drizzle. Plus, it gave us the opportunity to finally see the new fountains at the Legislature lit up at night.

Legislature fountains, Edmonton

The next day it was raining even harder than the day before. But we were determined to go back to the festival, and this time be a little bit better prepared for the weather. We layered our clothes, grabbed gloves, put on our hiking boots instead of running shoes to keep our feet dry, and brought scarves and toques to keep our heads toasty. And, of course, rain gear.

As soon as we got to the park we headed to the food trucks to grab an early supper. This time we tried Fab Food on Four, one of our local food trucks. We split the fries, which came with a creamy, homemade pesto mayo. The fries were especially nice as they left the skins on, which is our preference.

Fab Food on Four, Edmonton

While waiting for the bands we wanted to see, we decided to try our hands at a few of the games. The Jagermeister bar had a ring toss game (on bottles of Jager, naturally) and a bean bag toss. I fared poorly with both, but Mark won some sunglasses. We also came across a Mucho Burrito tent where they were giving away free chili chocolate bars made with ghost peppers. Our pockets were quickly filling up with swag!

The first band we caught on Sunday was The Flaming Lips. They had a fun vibe, throwing giant balloons into the audience and using various props. Like, for example, the lead singer performing in a zorb. Now that’s something I’ve never seen at a concert before.

The Flaming Lips

At what point did this even happen?

It sounded like most people that were there on the second day were there to see one, two, or all three of the last artists of the evening – Mother Mother, Tenacious D, and, closing out the show, Alexisonfire. Before we went to the festival we pulled up a few songs by Mother Mother on YouTube because we didn’t know much about them. We instantly took a liking to them, so much so that when we got to the festival grounds on Sunday we swung by the merchandise tent and picked up their CD. Lucky for us they were performing right before Tenacious D so the timing was perfect.

Sonic Boom festival - Mother Mother

If you haven’t heard anything by Mother Mother before, look them up!

I’m not usually one for crowds, but it was actually nice to be cozied up between a bunch of strangers in the rain. It kept me a bit drier than I would have been otherwise.

Once Mother Mother finished their set, I started to ease forward to try and get a better vantage point for Tenacious D. Mark stopped me from getting too close though, because, as he warned me, “do you want to be in the mosh pit?” Oh, no, not so much I guess. But I didn’t really think Tenacious D was the type of band to incite moshing. In fact, the people surrounding us in our immediate vicinity were very quiet, polite, and for the most part, didn’t move around much, even during the most raucous songs.

Once Tenacious D came on stage and started performing, one dude sidled up to our area and started shoving and jostling people to get a mosh pit going, but everyone in our area just stood there like statues, immobile. “No sir, we will not mosh with you. Move along. We bid you good day.” Eventually he gave up and moved forward into the crowd. It was actually quite funny, I’ve never seen mosh pit rejection before.

The rain never let up all night, not even a little bit. But it made for some cool photos at least:

Tenacious D

Tenacious D

Tenacious D was everything we expected them to be – funny, loud, campy, energetic, and, mostly, really, really talented. For a couple of guys who are doing “comedic rock” they really know what they’re doing and yes, they really do sing and play instruments, and they do both extremely well. And there wasn’t a lot of moshing going on that I could see, but there was a lot of crowd surfing. Now that is something that fits naturally with Tenacious D’s music!

Tenacious D

We kind of wanted to stay for Alexisonfire, but to be honest we were soaked to the bone even with our rain gear, our backs were aching from standing for so long, and we were getting cold. So we skedaddled right after Tenacious D ended their set. But we hear that the moshing did commence in earnest when Alexisonfire performed. Overall, it was a fabulous weekend…but now we need another weekend to recuperate from this weekend!

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