By Rachel Adrushuk
From July 27-29, Disco Needs a Squeeze, a 3-day punk music festival, takes over The Handsome Daughter and the Good Will Social Club. This will be its second year. The first year was a huge success, most likely because it met a demand that existed for years. While there’s a supportive and thriving punk scene in Winnipeg, punk shows have been on the decline since the closing of beloved venues like The Albert, Ozzy’s, and War on Music/The Death Trap. The economy has played a big role, too.“When I was younger, there would always be touring punk bands coming through and that just doesn’t happen anymore,” says Mischa Decter, one of the festival’s organizers. “Bands would come from California, Florida, all over the States. American bands just stopped touring Canada because our dollar is so bad.”
After the Albert closed, the Windsor took over its legacy. “It was pretty cool for a while, but it’s kind of winded down. It’s definitely not like how the Albert used to be,” says Decter.
“No one wants to come here anymore. There are local shows, but they don’t bring out crazy numbers because it’s the same thing all the time – same bands playing, same group of friends. So, last year we decided to do a festival. People have always talked about doing it, but it never happened. We flew in a few bands from Toronto and Montreal and a couple bands drove in. It was really good. It was a lot better than we expected, so we decided to do it again.”
Along with Decter, the fest is organized by Mike Requiema and Steve Krysko. This year’s main act is a rap band called Secret Circle, which has already generated a lot of excitement.
“The reason we did that is because there’s kind of a cross-over between punk fans and rap fans in Winnipeg,” says Decter. “One of the guys in Secret Circle, Antwon, is kind of rooted in punk. He’s the singer in a band called Leather and his aesthetic is very ‘punky’. Lil Ugly Mane wasn’t always a rapper; he made a lot of weird experimental music in the past and is very rooted in death metal.”
The super group, comprised of Antwon, Lil Ugly Mane and Wiki, are internet famous. They’ve released only four songs on SoundCloud and played one show, ever. It was in California. This will be their third show after playing in Vancouver.
“They all tour a lot respectively, but are pretty underground. They have very die-hard fans and a lot of people in Winnipeg are into them.”
The festival is flying in Secret Circle with their own money, a trend for most local festivals since securing exciting international bands is hard.
The festival does more than just give local punk-lovers a good time. “One of the side goals of the festival is to show the greater community that it’s worth coming here, and that there’s a scene that will support their shows”.
As for the name, Disco Needs a Squeeze, “It’s a joke,” says Decter. “It’s a misheard lyric in this song Death Agonies and Screams by the Japanese band called G.I.S.M. When he says that in the song it sounds like he’s saying, ‘Disco Needs a Squeeze’.”
A joke that most punk fans will understand, it’s a funny one-liner that blurs the line between music genres and its fans, much like the festival itself.
Lumpy and the Dumpers (St. Louis): “Weird dumb punk. Live shows often escalate into audience members being drenched in slime. They just happened to be on tour around the weeks we were planning to do the festival, so we got them. They’re a band we’ve been trying to get here for a long time. The guy who leads that band runs a record label out of St. Louis. They’re one of the bigger labels right now. They release stuff from all over the States and they have some Australian bands and they put out the Janitor Scum record who are playing on Saturday night.”
Honey (Winnipeg/Vancouver): “New fast female fronted punk band. This is their first show.”
Whip (Winnipeg): “Steve’s band – Steve helps put on the festival and his wife is the singer of that band. Actually, all the bands on this show – except for Lumpy – have females which is pretty cool.”
Malingerer (Winnipeg): “Another new female fronted aggressive hardcore punk band. They played Music Trader on Canada Day. That was their first show.”
REALiTY GROUP (Winnipeg): “Weird effect-heavy punk, members of Human Music and Slurs.”
(Along with Secret Circle)
smrtdeath (Winnipeg): “Emo goth rapper. He’s a funny little sad guy.”
Genex (Winnipeg): “Brutal, crushing hardcore punk. Their live show is full of smoke machines and strobe lights. They’re one of the best hardcore punk bands in Winnipeg.”
Horrible Pain (Winnipeg): “Brutal, two-piece grindcore that don’t really ever play Winnipeg. I think they’ve played maybe one or two shows here. They headlined a grindcore festival in California a couple months ago.”
Janitor Scum (Calgary): “Very cool female fronted punk band with out of tune guitars and keyboards.”
Sniff (Winnipeg): “This is their first show. Fast, snotty punk with drum machines.”
Dri Hiev (Calgary): “Another band with drum machines.”
Skeleton (Winnipeg): “Longstanding Winnipeg D-Beat band. One of Dan Ryckman’s many projects.”
Ataxxia (Minneapolis): “Brutal D-beat/crust band. Never played in Winnipeg before.”
Tickets are sold for each show individually and are available at The Handsome Daughter, Music Trader, and online. Thursday is $12 in advance/$15 at the door; Friday is $30 in advance/$35 at the door; Saturday is $12 in advance/$15 at the door. A free record swap is happening at The Good Will, Sunday afternoon.