NMC photo exhibit captures Calgary’s vibrant 1990s alternative rock scene


Content of the article

There is a photograph in Zoltan Varadi’s upcoming show at the National Music Center that captures Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson in action as he played from the Republik in Calgary circa 1996. Known for his terribly loud performances, Big Sugar ranks in the Top 3 behind DOA and Motorhead in what Varadi describes as his “hearing experiences on the threshold of pain”. But beyond that, the reasons for including him in his exhibition, Reflections: 10 Years Capturing Calgary’s Alt Music Scene, are somewhat cryptic. Varadi remembers liking Big Sugar back then, but admits he wasn’t a big fan. Unlike many Varadi groups featured in the exhibit, the Toronto-born trio are not local.

Advertising

Content of the article

Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar is pictured in the Republik in 1996. The photo is part of Reflections: 10 Years Capturing Alt Music Scene from Calgary at the National Music Center by Zoltan Varadi.  Photo by Zoltan Varadi
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar is pictured in the Republik in 1996. The photo is part of Reflections: 10 Years Capturing Alt Music Scene from Calgary at the National Music Center by Zoltan Varadi. Photo by Zoltan Varadi jpg

“I didn’t necessarily choose them in terms of musical importance, so as not to demean Big Sugar or whatever,” Varadi says, in an interview with Postmedia from his home in Calgary. “It was a group that I thought was pretty decent at the time, but I haven’t thought much about it since. It was more than I had scanned it and I was like “I really like this photo”. It is not the most dynamic. He doesn’t make a windmill or anything. But there was just something about it. If you zoom in close, there are these little drops of sweat on his forehead. At the bottom right, what sold it to me was this radiant girl’s face. She has a big smile on her face. This is a photo that I probably haven’t seen since I took it. I don’t know if it was even published somewhere or why I was there.

Advertising

Content of the article

But it seemed to reflect the kind of spirit and enthusiasm Varadi remembers when chronicling the alternative music scene. Working for publications such as FFWD Weekly and CJSW’s VOX magazine, he spent much of the 1990s in dark nightclubs capturing CanCon road warriors such as Big Sugar, The Headstones, Bif Naked and Sloan. , cult bands like Smugglers and SNFU and Calgary like Forbidden Dimension, Beyond Possession, Pussy Monster, The Von Zippers and the Dino Martinis.

Neko Case at the Night Gallery in 1996 as part of the Vancouver-based Maow Trio.  The photo is part of Reflections: 10 Years Capturing Alt of Calgary's Alt Music Scene at the National Music Center by Zoltan Varadi.  Photo by Zoltan Varadi
Neko Case at the Night Gallery in 1996 as part of the Vancouver-based Maow Trio. The photo is part of Reflections: 10 Years Capturing Alt of Calgary’s Alt Music Scene at the National Music Center by Zoltan Varadi. Photo by Zoltan Varadi jpg

The exhibition, which opens Saturday at the National Music Center at Studio Bell, features 30 black and white photos of predominantly Canadian acts from the years 1992 to 2001. There are some fascinating portraits before they were famous, including early shots of Feist of Calgary and American singer-songwriter Neko Case. The first is represented in front of the Placebo punks at the Republik between 1993 and 1995. Case, one of the few non-Canadians included in the exhibit, is shown behind the kit at an exhibit at the Night Gallery in 1996 as the drummer / singer of a short film. lived a Vancouver-based trio called Maow. The exhibit features images of some groups so obscure that Varadi had to dig deep to find information on them, including an act from Toronto who disguised himself as cavemen and called himself The Stinkies at the Night Gallery. in 1996 and Rosco Pekoe of Calgary at Max’s at the University of Calgary. Coffee around 1994 or 1995.

Advertising

Content of the article

This latest pic features a young and exuberant Scott Bennie, who would later become the owner of Don’s Hobby Shop, in a mid-punk-rock bounce with his flowing blonde hair. The group wasn’t exactly a household name, but it did become the primary image used to promote the exhibit.

“Which is quite funny, because they are the least known band in the group,” says Varadi. “But it’s a beautiful photo.”

It was one of many Varadi unearthed last year after being fired from his job at the Glenbow Museum during the pandemic. It all started in the spring of 2020 when CKUA host Lisa Wilton challenged her newly locked down social media followers to post old photos of the Republik and Ship and Anchor.

“Social media was nice for a few weeks around this time,” Varadi says. “It had a sense of community rather than a bunch of anger. I bought a scanner a few years ago but hadn’t used it for my old stuff. I posted a few photos which I scanned very quickly.

Advertising

Content of the article

Feist is pictured leading the punk group Placebo in the Republik in the early 1990s. The photo is part of Reflections: 10 Years Capturing Alt of Calgary's Alt Music Scene at the National Music Center by Zoltan Varadi.  Photo by Zoltan Varadi
Feist is pictured leading the punk group Placebo in the Republik in the early 1990s. The photo is part of Reflections: 10 Years Capturing Alt of Calgary’s Alt Music Scene at the National Music Center by Zoltan Varadi. Photo by Zoltan Varadi jpg

This led to a months-long excursion in which Varadi dug through piles of randomly ordered and largely untagged negatives. But earlier this year, the National Music Center called for artifacts in its Community Storytellers exhibit. Varadi donated a few photos to the cause and was asked if he would find more for a full exhibit.

While a number of local acts featured in the exhibit are still around – including the Von Zippers, Dino Martinis, and Forbidden Dimension – Reflections captures a unique period in the city’s alternative rock history. FFWD Weekly and The Vox are no more. SNFU lead singer Chi Pig passed away in July 2020. Many places pictured, including The Night Gallery, Republik, Max’s Cafe and Megatunes record store, are long gone.

Advertising

Content of the article

“The show has a strong local emphasis,Says Varadi. “I think that’s when it became a real local market for shows. You can go out any night of the week and see bands from here. There were just a lot more bands and a lot more places to see them. It was like an explosion and I felt there were a lot of possibilities. Maybe one of these groups will be signed. A few ended up making a name for themselves. This is how it seemed from my point of view, that things were really establishing themselves as a local scene. There was one in the 80s that existed in some of the bars I was too young to go to. But I think it got to the next level in the 1990s. ”

Reflections: 10 Years Capturing Alt of Calgary’s Alt Music Scene opens Saturday, September 18 at the National Music Center.

Advertising

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour of moderation before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread that you follow, or if a user that you follow comments. Visit our Community rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail The settings.


Source link

Previous Photo exhibit opens Thursday at Salvo Community Cemetery - The Coastland Times
Next Art exhibition that is 'not by the book' to open at Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *