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The 420 Music and Arts Festival is a homegrown bash

By Matty Hume, March 13 2018 —

What’s in a name? In the case of the 420 Music and Arts Festival, you get a pretty good idea of what to expect from the title alone. The three-day rock festival kicks off on April 19 and will feature 24 bands, plus artists, vendors, food trucks and marijuana activists all at the Distortion live music venue on Macleod Trail.

The festival is heading into its second year and is the passion project of CC Getty and Celestia of Metalheads United Promotions. Despite its youth in the Calgary festival scene, the 2018 lineup includes sludge-metal and desert-rock powerhouses like Dopethrone, Sasquatch and Brant Bjork of Kyuss and Vista Chino fame. Getty says that on top of putting big names from these genres together in one place, the festival has a larger purpose.

“We’re trying to bring music and medical cannabis together in a positive light,” Getty says. “You can be into stoner rock and you don’t have to smoke pot — or maybe you’re a medical cannabis user and you might be exposed to some new music as well.”

A primary goal of the festival organizers is to bring an outdoor festival feel to a single venue while providing a platform for western-Canadian marijuana activists.

“People will find it as a serious medical alternative to the things they’re taking or have been prescribed,” Getty says. “I have Crohn’s disease, there’s chronic pain in the house and there’s other people with anxiety. Take the THC away and you have the whole cannabidiol side. There’s going to be people there to tell you about this.”

Naturally, the real draw for the festival is the bands. For many of the notable acts performing, it’s their first time playing in Western Canada, if not Canada itself.

“We upped the ante by bringing in Sasquatch from California. They’re playing their first Canada show ever on April 19,” Getty says. 

Even Dopethrone, despite hailing from Montreal with extensive touring across Europe, has never played this far west. Dopethrone is headlining the April 21 show, which also includes Orbital Express, CHUNKASAURUS and Heron.

“My ears are still ringing [from the last time I saw Heron],” Getty says. “I forgot to bring earplugs and it kicked my tinnitus up a notch.”

Heron, a Vancouver-based band with roots on Vancouver Island, are among a strong showing of British Columbian talent at this year’s festival. This also includes MENDOZZA on April 20, a project from Derek Mendozza, a pioneer of B.C.’s stoner-rock scene.

The 420 Music and Arts Festival may already be finding success in its second year, but the organizers are well aware of its potential growth considering Canada’s proposed pot legalization set to roll out this upcoming summer.

“We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t want to make it bigger and better,” Getty says. “We have a pretty big plan for what we want to do for the next three-to-five years, actually. It will change the landscape completely for things like what we do.”

The 420 Music and Arts Festival will rock Distortion from April 19–21. Day passes are limited for Thursday, Friday and Saturday and are $25, $30 and $35, respectively. Three-day passes are $69 until April 1 and will jump to $89 thereafter. For the full festival lineup and to purchase passes, visit 420musicandartsfestival.ca.

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