Music festival takes over Dalhousie student union building

One-night-only festival keeps bands on campus and encourages students to support their local music scene.

A mini, grassroots music festival temporarily turned the Dalhousie student union building into a glowing, smoke filled accumulation of heavy bass, heavy metal, and hearty jams. SUBfest 2015: 25 bands, seven rooms in Dal’s SUB, an event fully student organized and run. On Friday night, both Dalhousie students and the general public converged on the student union building to take part.

Why use the SUB building when we live in a city with the most bars per capita in Canada? Organizer Ali Bee Calladine said it’s about “bringing the community and culture of Halifax onto campus, instead of trying to push students out of the campus into the community.

Calladine said the festival stemmed from the idea of “taking over the SUB.” She said she thinks students should take more control over campus, starting with the student union building.

“I think it was just a lot of thinking about music festival culture, and that’s something that’s really sort of nice and special in Nova Scotia, there are a lot of really small music festivals…it takes a lot of students a long time to experience that, and we certainly don’t experience it in the winter time,” said Calladine.

“Beyond that there’s something cool about the idea of a grassroots music festival that isn’t trying to make money and isn’t trying to promote anything,” she said.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Like your common summer music festival, once you paid the eight dollar door charge, you were free to roam from venue to venue as you pleased. There were volunteers in each room facilitating the shows, and hosting them in cases like the open mic room.

The festival took over the lobby of the SUB and the Grawood bar, as well as administrative offices, conference rooms, and hallways on all floors. Most rooms had DJs or bands playing, one was dedicated to the group DalJam (where students bring their own instruments and play together), and one was an open mic room.

From 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., all rooms were open. At 11:30 p.m. festival goers congregated in the Grawood to hear the headlining band, The Wayo. The R&B band originated out of the University of King’s College, and came from Montreal specifically for SUBfest. Other headliners included Harley Alexander, Dalhousie professor Tim Crofts, and Foggyswoggle.

Calladine said that she spent around 80 hours in meetings during the last month working out logistics. Alcohol licensing, booking bands, and acquiring control of the space took time and effort, but she said that the Dalhousie union staff members were helpful when it came to figuring out the details.

Dalhousie student, SUBfest co-organizer, and performing band member Alex Butler says he would love to see this event happen again next year. “We had a ton of people come out and volunteer, which is really what made it happen, we could not have done stuff like this without having a ton of people get here and be committed to the idea and put it together… It’s been exactly what we needed it to be,” says Butler.