Harbour Water Fest gives you the punk treatment | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Harbour Water Fest gives you the punk treatment

DIY, all-ages, all weekend

Harbour Water Fest gives you the punk treatment
Harbour Water Fest brings affordable, accessible punk.

Halifax loves it some music festivals. But not every local band is allowed to play in them.

Such was the situation with Ryley Beggs in 2010, a local punk whose folk-punk band The Official Suckers had a lack of venues and festivals to attend.

"For a couple years, me and my friends had been putting on house shows in living rooms across town. We were doing it out of a need-be situation because our bands didn't have anywhere else to play and felt we didn't have any representation in the larger Halifax music scene," says Beggs.

With a lack of all-ages venues, and as an excuse to get some of her favourite bands that had moved away from the city back for a weekend, Beggs and her peers created Harbour Water Fest.

Initially a one-day concert and all-around party, the festival branched out this year to include four shows in three days---plus a secret show---and includes local acts like The Fat Stupids, as well as touring bands like Brain Fever and Howls & Hush.

The switch from a single show to multi-day festival was spurred on by more local coverage and interest in the growing punk rock showcase, but also to fix some of the faults of the 2010 incarnation.

"We didn't really have a lot of experience," she says. "I had it kind of planned out a little bit, but it was just one day long and we had all the events connected. We had a scavenger hunt, we served a free meal on the streets and then had a show that lasted from 6pm until midnight. I think just after being in the sun all day and then going to a punk rock show, people were kind of exhausted."

The three-day event for 2011 will be less overkill for punk fans and offer a variety of shows as well as workshops for local punks, including a course on lockpicking.

"We really just wanted to have workshops that were practical and people could actually use. I didn't want to have workshops that were just based on theory," she says.

But for Beggs, if there was one main goal of the three-day festival, it would be the ability to offer shows to all ages in a city that has a serious lack of venues for younger punk rockers.

"I think kids need something a bit more accessible. All-ages shows are super important," she says. "If I hadn't gone to all-ages shows when I was 14, I probably wouldn't be doing anything I'm doing now."

Organizing the shows in friends' houses and a local community centre allowed the festival to stay cheap and accessible to all ages, with the majority of shows being pay-what-you-can and only two of them having a mandatory $5 entry fee.

As the festival progresses, Beggs plans to make it bigger and better for next year, with an emphasis on any profits going to charity.

"We want to do it every year. I'm not sure if it's going to be the same format, but someday it would be really nice to start making some money and donating it to something really rad like a pitbull rescue or something," she says.

"We want to make it something bigger than just house shows and have something that we could build on year after year."

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