By Paul Rodgers
With Sam Steele Days just around the corner Western Financial Place is alive with a whirlwind of activity, preparing for the upcoming events that will mutate the frozen home of the Kootenay Ice into a “giant beach party.”
Paul Heywood, special events and marketing manager for the City of Cranbrook, took some time out of his hectic day to talk about the transformation of the venue and the rapidly approaching Sam Steele programming. Not only are infamous ‘90s legends Smash Mouth performing on Thursday, perhaps better known to today’s generation through memes and remixes of their hit “All Star,” but Friday will see WFP host Cranbrook’s “first and largest EDM festival.”
“We’re not sure because this is the first EDM festival that we’ve ever had …” Heywood says, speaking to the question of expected attendance numbers, “ … I would like to see upwards of 500 to 1000. So if we see those numbers we’ll be very happy. We want to always bring a decent sized audience to the artist that we put on stage.”
Heywood says that the City has collaborated with Crabby Productions as well as the Sam Steele Society to create this EDM festival, which will feature duelling or back-to-back format performances from some of the finest DJs from across the Kootenays as well as K+Lab, who is bringing his funky, bass-heavy sound all the way from New Zealand.
Mathieu Boudreau, who goes by the alias Mat B, is one of the DJs slotted to play on Friday, — spinning all styles of drum and bass alongside his girlfriend Christine Warren a.k.a. Ohm Girl. The two of them are very active in the electronic music community in the region, putting on a winter nightly at the Elk’s Club in Kimberley called Sleazy Listening Fridays and playing a weekly radio podcast from their home in Marysville.
“We’re pretty stoked,” says Boudreau, who has over 20 years of DJ experience under his belt. “Just to see K.Lab and to see that kind of an event happen in a town like Cranbrook.”
Boudreau says the DJ scene in and around the East Kootenay Region is “alive and well, happening and vibrant,” particularly in places like Kimberley, Golden, Fernie and Nelson.
Heywood said that Shambhala Music Festival, which takes place in the Salmo River Valley every summer, this year celebrating their 20th anniversary and rapidly sold out tickets, was their “trial run” for hosting the first EDM event of it’s kind in Cranbrook.
“We’re just trying to scape a little bit of that glory here for Western Financial Place for Sam Steele Days” Heywood says.
“Shambhala helps,” Boudreau added. “But there’s already a scene and the people here —they’re into it.”
The stage and lighting rigs at WFP rapidly grew behind Heywood as he answered questions about what makes these events special. Not only will there be a massive LED screen but they are bringing in “giant, music bouncing balls that we’re going to put in to the crowd,” from Cirque du Soleil. Heywood also says that there will be no seats on the floor giving it a “giant beach party” atmosphere and allowing fans to rush the stage and get right up close to the bands and DJs.
“It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be vibrant, it’s going to be a lot of fun for everybody involved. And what’s also special is we’ve never done back to back concerts for Sam Steele days before so we’re looking forward to this. There’s several thousand people visiting Cranbrook right now for Sam Steele days, we’re going to take advantage of that and we’re going to show all these tourists what Cranbrook can present and host.”