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Photo by Thomas Johnson

Near-empty Port Juvee show demonstrates need for patronage of local music

By Thomas Johnson, October 22 2018 —

This Wednesday at Commonwealth Bar & Stage, an easily accessible club that fills to the brim every weekend, two bands — Australian four-piece Cub Sport and Calgary’s own Port Juvee, both very good — played. Both shows ended well before midnight, so it wasn’t even late. For $15 a ticket, it was a beautiful night out. Weed became legal hours beforehand. It should have been perfect.

And yet, looking around, I couldn’t have counted more than 20 people present. Which begs the question:

What the fuck, Calgary?

Port Juvee is one of Calgary’s very best bands. They’re an original, dissonant, post-punk surf-rock quartet. They’re where Dick Dale meets Joy Division. They were recently in a spotlight by the Fader because they were chosen to open for Schoolboy Q in Chicago this summer. The CRIMEWAVE EP is one of the best Calgary releases in years. Even with the meagre crowd, they were tight, impassioned, present and sounded great. And they can’t fill a small venue like Commonwealth?

Cub Sport frontman Tim Nelson has one of the most impressive sets of pipes in the indie circuit. They’ve toured in support of chart-toppers like Vance Joy and The 1975. They make regular appearances on Australia’s Triple J Top 100 yearly list. Their music videos accrue millions of views within weeks of being uploaded. Their music gets featured in various internationally broadcasted television programs. They came all the way here from Brisbane. And they can’t fill a small venue like Commonwealth?

Come on.

I know for a fact that there’s more than 20 Port Juvee fans in Calgary — I’ve seen three times that many huddled together in the dead of January to catch an outdoor show of theirs. To be fair, I don’t know that there’s more than 20 Cub Sport fans in Calgary, but I’ll play the odds.

We’re at a pivotal moment in Calgary’s cultural scene. A hub is only as vibrant as its patrons, and these venues aren’t going to magically stick around forever without your patronage. It’s not that hard — go see live music. Support your local business and support your neighbours. Take pride in your city and your culture. You might even enjoy it.


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