by Dave Skene
The first step is always the hardest. You feel like an alien in your own body, adrenaline races to your brain, there’s a sharpening sensation as each nerve flips on, your mind, not knowing what to expect, takes everything in as your heart thumps in your chest like a big bass drum.
Doing anything for the first time is uncomfortable, frightening and exhilarating. Our brain does everything it can to avoid this sensation. We work the same jobs day in and day out, hang out at the same bars with the same friends. Our brain wants order and routine but our heart seeks adventure and new experiences. It makes us take tropical vacations and seek out strange and interesting people. When you add a spotlight to the situation it can be too much stress. So, bands stay hidden away in garages, lyrics collect dust at the bottom of your desk drawer and dreams suffocate under the debris of everyday life.
But what if there was a show in a safe, inviting environment where everybody was playing their first show, and nobody cared about your gender, orientation or experience? Where everybody gets to go up on stage and feel the rush of taking that first step into a new world?
On June 22 at Negative Space the celebration of new acts and new voices will be a reality. Not Enough Fest is coming to town, bringing a cavalcade of first time acts playing their very first show and it all came about because Kara Pasey (lead singer of Ghost Hole and volunteer at Negative Space) likes to go on Tumblr.com.
“I spend a lot of time on Tumblr and I came across this group called No More Fiction that put a lot of effort into connecting bands with women and queer people, not binary people with each other [sic] and one of the things they started doing was Not Enough Fest,” said Passey “[It was] started by people in New Orleans, just putting new bands together to support people that maybe needed to start bands. I thought Negative Space would be a really cool place to try it here.”
Negative Space is a venue that has always supported diversity and experimentation. It’s home to Winnipeg’s only Noise Night, the first Saturday of every month, and since the venue was founded it has always been a requirement that to book a show at Negative Space your bill has to have at least one female band member. This policy has done a lot to promote a more diverse musical landscape but by putting on Not Enough Fest, the collective behind the venue is showing that it’s not resting on its laurels.
“With the policy, one of its drawbacks is how it doesn’t necessarily, productively create environments in which people have access to support or instruments or space. So we’ve been looking for ways of doing that,” said organizer and Negative Space volunteer Doreen Girard.
To kick off Not Enough Fest, Negative Space provided a mixer where people seeking bands could meet up, listen to music and take part in a panel discussion with female musicians that was both inspiring and informative. They are also offering help with practice space and technical know how. The resulting festival will be defined by the acts that are developing and the organizers behind it are keeping their plans for the actual day open to new ideas and new developments as they arise.
“I feel like it has already been successful in a certain way,” Shelagh Allen (organizer/Negative Space volunteer) said when asked about goals for the event and “what would constitute a successful Not Enough Fest?” “Because people feel like they can make a band and maybe the only thing that would make it more successful would be bands coming forward and playing again… I think that would be one step forward toward breaking down barriers.”
Not Enough Fest takes place June 22 at Negative Space. Don’t miss it.