by Ashley Smith


Growing up in St. Catharines, SCENE was like Christmas time. It always fell right around my birthday (score!) and meant an entire day wandering around the downtown core, seeing wicked bands, feasting at some local eateries, and being around friends. I’ve been attending this festival for 8+ years, and this year it has mutated into a whole new beast, one that I’m proud to say is in my hometown. This year the festival is two days, and the talent they are showcasing this year is unlike years past. Big names like Matthew Good and Lights are gracing the bill, as well as bands like Marianas Trench, The Sheepdogs and Arkells who locals saw in infancy, playing smaller clubs years before they broke into the mainstream. Of course the meat of the festival takes place in the 7 other smaller venues in downtown St. Catharines; showcasing over 100 acts, many of them local bands. Don’t think you’re going to really experience SCENE if you don’t leave Montebello park all weekend long and dig into what all the other clubs have to offer. Here are 5 acts I think you’d be crazy to miss over the weekend.


5. Rich Aucoin


Out of Halifax comes Rich Aucoin, an indie rocker with a live show you don’t just see—you experience it. Infamous for getting right into the crowd and singing with everyone under one of those rainbow parachutes you might remember from kindergarten, his live show will leave you feeling high on life, which is exactly his mission. His music is uplifting and happy, and his live show is something that’s been called “crowd-kareoke”, so you know you’re in for a fun ride.
Catch him: 10:40pm on June 28 at the Audio Blood stage at Detour Music Hall

4. Mandroid Echostar


Progressive Metal band Mandroid Echostar from Guelph are here to melt off your faces with some groovy metal riffs and seductive vocals that will leave you begging for more. Back in 2012, I was there to catch their first show ever in Brantford and as impressed as I was then, the years have molded these badasses into a force to be reckoned with. If you’re looking for some metal to complete your SCENE experience, look no further.


Catch them: 12:20am on June 28 at LIV Nightclub


3. The Beaches
These four ladies are fast becoming one of my new obsessions (and admittedly, I’m a little late to the party on that one.) From the beaches in Toronto, these indie rockers are here with edge and a whole lot of attitude that feels a little bit like early Metric mixed with Band of Skulls. They will have you rocking out and feeling all of your youthful rebellion flooding back to you like you stood up too fast.


Catch them: 9pm on June 29 at Red Hot Chili Pepper



RITUAL is Matt Tobin (ex Dead and Divine)’s new project who recently completed their first Ontario tour. Gritty post-hardcore combined with Tobin’s sometimes melodic singing and sometimes totally-pissed-off-sounding screaming, their energy is bound to get you moving…possibly out of the way of the impeding mosh pit.


Catch them: 7pm on June 28 at the Mishun Nightclub Outdoor Stage


1. Northcote
Matt Goud aka Northcote stepped out of playing with a post-hardcore band and decided to forge out on his own as a singer-songwriter. His folk sound is influenced with his punk background that creates a sound and feel that is unique and breaks him out of the typical singer-songwriter mould. To put it simply, his music makes me feel all fuzzy inside and makes me want to stomp my feet in time with his soulful voice.


Catch him: 7:40 on June 29 at the Pistonhead Kustom Lager Skate Stage at Montebello Park, as well at 10:40pm on June 29 at the Audio Blood stage at Detour Music Hall