Story and photo by Alyssa Friesen
It was loud. It was sweaty. People were crowd surfing. And there was a parachute.
On Friday, July 15, following the gentle strumming of Sarah MacDougall and bluesy nuances of Dennis and the Hellhounds, the floor was cleared of the wooden benches, and Shotgun Jimmie jammed up the noise level just enough to get people ready. When midnight struck, the floor writhed with bodies, bouncing, pushing, arms flailing, necks rolling, raving in strobe light.
The night featured high-energy performances by Juno-nominated, raw-rocking Shout Out Out Out Out, from Edmonton, and Rich Aucoin, leaping into the crowd in a signature white T-shirt, runners and neon green polyester shorts, from Halifax.
“Tim [Jones] has been trying to book us for this festival for a couple of years actually, and this is the first year it’s worked out and we could do it,” said Nik Kozub, lead bassist in Shout Out Out Out Out. “I’m glad he stuck with it and actually made it happen. We definitely wanted to come here.”
Flying in from Whitehorse with his six-member band (Gravy and Clint, drums, Will, bass and synthesizer, Lyle and Jason, both bass and synthesizer) earlier that morning, his first time in Dawson, Kozub spent his morning scouting for gold by the river.
“I got a little flecky rock,” Kozub pauses and pulls out of his pocket in bits. “Oh, it crumbled… My claim! See the shiny bits? Gold.”
Or not. But Kozub does strike recognition with a variation of musical tastes, which he contributes his band’s background in punk and rock before doing electronic.
“We do get people who come to our show that I feel would never, ever listen to techno.” he shrugged, pushing a strand of long, greasy black hair out of his face. Then he grinned. Coming to the festival he said he was nervous about the die-hard folkies getting his show. “I hope that’s not the prevailing opinion,” he laughed.
Conversely, Rich Aucoin is familiar with Dawson. He was here in January, which he describes as a “very indoor, winter experience.” In summer, however, Aucoin found a new vibe to feed on.
“Because it doesn’t get dark here, it stays like an afternoon music festival the whole time,” he reflected on Saturday evening, sipping white wine from a clear plastic cup in the Hospitality Lounge. “I was definitely really, really excited and happy with the crowd.”
A few hiccups riddled his performance, including a hitch in the sound in the beginning and a tackle from a security guard, but Aucoin laughed it off.
“That [tackle from security] was the first time, but it was bound to happen at some point ‘cause I’m always running everywhere,” Aucoin grinned.
Though he says he gave Dawson a regular performance, rainbow-coloured parachute session included, Dawson was very much a part of Aucoin’s show. He opened with a short video that alternated footage of people lolling about on a hillside with slides—shout outs to locals, festival organizers and bands. One of his songs also featured SOVA graduate and featured KIAC artist, Jessica Viens. Two years ago, while building his upcoming album, Public Publication—currently a four-song EP and launching as a full-length record in the September—Aucoin dragged recording equipment across the country, capturing sounds of people he meet.
“I want to record, I didn’t get a chance to record Tim,” Aucoin said, glancing across the table to where Jones sat having dinner.
In his ambitious pursuit of experimental sound and euphoric atmosphere, Aucoin plays a variety of instruments—his favourite, he says, is the piano. An instrument to describe Dawson: “It would have to be a very beautiful instrument. Like a really beautiful wooden flute.”
There were no flutes on Friday. But before it began, Kozub, made one promise: “We, will have a dance party.”