As I write this at 7 p.m. on a Friday night, the Iceberg Alley Performance Tent is likely packed, as it has been all week, with local music lovers.
I’m sleep deprived, maybe a touch hungover and my cheeks hurt from smiling — these slight woes are a sign of a great couple of days.
The Iceberg Alley festival started on Sept. 14, and is set to finish its 10-day run on Sunday. Unable to take in all 10 nights due to other commitments, such as the commitment I made to myself post-George Street Fest to cut down on eventual hearing loss and liver damage, I still managed to take in two amazing evenings of music.
Instead of writing a review about the acts I saw, I am instead going to focus on the Iceberg Alley Festival as a whole. I’m gonna come out and just say it now: this festival is a well-oiled machine and I’m willing to bet a body part that this event will be around for years to come.
Walking into the giant tent on Wednesday night, I was genuinely blown away.
The 20,000-plus square feet of space boasted food vendors, a merchandise section, a speed bar, two more bars for beer and liquor respectively, and stadium-style seating, all surrounding a giant floor space and a massive stage, sandwiched between two jumbo screens. Off to one side, a plethora of portapotties, and an outdoor smoking section.
Two large support beams held up the canopy of the tent, with other smaller beams descending into bar-height tables. Ambient lighting lit the tent, which felt more like a large, circular bar than a circus tent.
Did I mention the (allegedly) $80,000 plywood floor? The two-storey VIP section? Or that the entire venue is wheelchair accessible? This place is an absolute dream.
Speaking to organizers on Wednesday night after Darcys and Arkells (metaphorically) tore the house down, I complimented the set-up — they somehow managed to come up with a solution to every criticism I had for the George Street Festival, right down to the two-way traffic walk-through ensuring easy transport from one side of the stage to the other. GSF organizers, take note, because there’s a lot to learn down here at Quidi Vidi Lake.
Returning on Thursday night for Willie Nile and July Talk, I was treated to another energetic, aurally pleasing and visually entertaining show. My notepad is full of compliments to all bands, yet I’m too enthralled by this magnificent venue to begin listing my kudos.
Instead, I’ll use the remaining space to list the giant lineup that Iceberg Alley booked, in order of appearance: Sherman Downey, Ian Foster, The Strumbellas, Billy & The Bruisers, Burton Cummings & Band, Fairgale, Mick Davis & Thin Love, Brothers in Stereo, Sloan, Timber, Crush, Darcys, Arkells, Willie Nile, July Talk, Kelly Prescott, The Road Hammers, Dean Brody, Denis Parker & John Clarke, Beauwater, Big Sugar, Janet Cull and the Native Side, Chris Kirby Band, and The Philosopher Kings – and that’s not including the stacked afternoon sessions.
If you haven’t been — go. If you’ve been — I know I’ll see ya next year.