By Sheroog Kubur, January 17 2022—
The new year brings the return of the coldest festival of the year, BIG Winter Classic. The annual event takes advantage of Calgary’s tendency to have bad weather during festivals by being held from January 25–29. It brings together some of Calgary’s cultural centres into one four-day event with good drinks and even better music. This year’s lineup features a range of musicians that can’t be seen anywhere else, international, national and local acts exploring a range of genres.
This year’s headliners are upcoming legends in the scene. The biggest is without a doubt Shame, the London post-punk band that made strides the moment they stepped onto the scene in 2018. This is paired with other various kinds of punk bands from across the pond and the country, including Toronto hardcore punks Fucked Up and bisexual vegan shitpunk band Joe & the Shitboys. Mexican punks Sgt. Papers will also be making a Calgary debut at the festival. These bands do more than make noise — they put performance above all else and make a show that will be something you could never forget.
For those not looking to get lost in the mosh pit, headliners also include a barrage of indie and electronic experimental acts to get into. Thomas Thomas is the local indie band that brings a tinge of freshness to the bitter cold. The Garrys closely follow with hazy harmonies and familiar lo-fi guitars perfect for gently swaying in a crowd.
The lineup also includes musicians who have been making strides across the country, with bands like Anishinaabe indie rockers Status/Non-Status, who made waves with the release of their album Sewn Back Together in 2022. Zoon, a frequent collaborator with the band, will also be headlining with his raw and honest lyrics and production. New Brunswick rockers Motherhood will be making a much-welcome appearance, bringing both unbridled energy and innovative musicality.
Amidst the rock and punks bands, soloists will also be taking over the stage throughout the festival. Jasmyn brings a much-needed pop-infused edge. Ghanian experimental–pop soloist Mauvey joins her alongside trap-influenced Indigenous artist Mattmac. They bring a diversity of sounds to the lineup that can easily get overcrowded with hardcore punks and zealous rockers.
Aside from the headliners, the festival is designed to celebrate Calgary’s music scene, so it’s only fitting that local musicians also make the bill. Quirky bands who have spent the last year becoming local favourites like Quit It!, Mixed Blame and Less Miserable will make appearances alongside local-adjacent groups that are expanding their horizons like High River’s Gratuitous Platypus and Lethbridge’s Starpainter. Horror-rock legends Forbidden Dimension will be taking over the stage as well, bringing an old-school flair to the week.
Regardless of if you think going to a festival in the middle of winter is a good idea or not, BIG Winter Classic is the type of show you can’t miss. The full lineup is available on www.bigwinterclassic.com alongside tickets that range from full weekend passes to individual events.