The celestial steering wheel of fate will be spun and reckoned upon a little earlier than usual this year. Dick Clark has left the building and New Year’s Eve is taking a back seat to a sexier, more popular end-of-days occasion. For those who observe a certain pre-Columbian calendar, December 21, 2012 has been decreed as a date that shall give humanity pause to reflect on the nature of existence, or see us reduced to an ethereal nimbus of intergalactic Hobbit smoke. Regardless, it’s enough to make you consider how best to greet the winter solstice and the prospect of impending doom. If you’re beginning to think the Chick tract you found on the bus might be on to something, you might as well spin the bottle and buy yourself a couple of tickets to paradise. That’s exactly what local musician Kenna Burima had in mind when she dreamed up the concept for the End of the World Music Festival.
“When they announced Calgary 2012, and other sources of arts funding that were being injected into the Calgary arts community, I knew it was a perfect opportunity to go big. I can’t seem to help myself when the opportunity arises to throw a huge party,” says the CJSW radio host and Woodpigeon alumnus. “Ever since I was handed a copy of David Pinchbeck’s book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, I’ve been fascinated with all things 2012. For me the question at the core of the end-of-the-world concept is: How would I want to spend my last night on earth? The answer was: I wanted to be in front of my instrument, preferably onstage, with my friends and family, knocking back beers and celebrating the good run we’d all had here.”
Drawing on her years facilitating civic festivals and cultural events, she was successful in her bid to win a Calgary 2012 Project Grant to finance her festival. Spitting into Nietzsche’s abyss, Burima challenged Calgary-based musicians and multimedia artist from all quadrants to sound off and submit performance proposals for their ultimate closing acts. Much to her delight, upwards of 50 registrants applied to entertain and pre-eulogize a Rapture-ready audience. After a rigorous review, over 20 talented acts were brought aboard for the titanic undertaking, which will accommodate four separate stages spread over two storeys of the historic downtown Royal Canadian Legion No. 1.
“Upstairs: we have crazy sound installations, performance art, light projections and ceremonial blessings to cleanse the mind and spirit. I thought it was important to incorporate and build a space that was more quiet and introspective. We will also have bands like Pack of Strangers, Mike Watson, Beaver Squadron and Hollow Brethren playing sets of songs inspired by end-of-the-world scenarios,” says Burima.
“Downstairs, Scars & Scarves will be embarking on a re-creation of Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable, Deadhorse is basing their performance on the world of ’60s guitar-god Harvey Mandel, The Pine Tarts are taking pages out of the writings of William S. Burroughs, and ATOMIS is going to blow people’s minds. Then there’s the Von Zippers; I expect they’ll be their usual badass selves.”
The sultry standout of the evening promises to be the après vivre vibrations emanating from the cocktail lounge at the end of the universe. One of Burima’s most brilliant tributes to yesteryear, the Vonnegut-esque Steinway Apocalypse Piano Bar will tremble to the dulcet tones of Sweet Cop/Sour Cop, Chris Nevile, Circa’81 and a proto-jazz tribute to Astrud Gilberto. All crowned with an appearance by the MC herself, who will be covering David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust material.
“We’re pretty excited about trying out some of the vintage gear we’ll have supplied by the National Music Centre. Many of the bands are collaborating with visual artists to incorporate special lighting and projections that will transform the space into a venue worthy of your last night on earth. Audience members can expect to see their favourite bands, their favourite people, and their favourite religious icons, doomsday prophesiers and little green men. I mean, where else can you come dressed up as Jim Jones and possibly have a chance to make out with Kali, goddess of death and destruction?”