Local Spotlight: An Interview with…The People

Welcome back to Local Spotlight, where we profile great local talent from across Alberta. If you’re reading this, it means one of two things: 1) you tolerate my writing, and/or 2) you appreciate good music by good people. This week I spoke with two gentlemen in charge of putting together one of the soon to be biggest – I’m calling it now – local music nights in Edmonton. 

This is Local Spotlight.


Local Spotlight: The People Present: A Parkview Party

What’s your dream job?

That’s the be all, end all question. It’s something I’ve thought about, and I guarantee it’s something you’ve thought about, too. Ben Lalonde and Wyatt Eddy from Edmonton, Alberta, in my opinion, are living the dream – creating something so wholly for the people that I actually have to start capitalizing the word “people” now. What they’re doing might not be their end goal, or what they want to do forever, but from talking to them it’s evident that it’s what they want to do right now because it’s what the People need. This is their story.

the-people-2
Photo cred – Sara Ugljesic

Ben Lalonde and Wyatt Eddy are cousins. They are 22 and 24 years old. They are Raptors fans. They play basketball for the renowned Pickle Weasels (just go with it). They love rap. Wyatt just discovered his love for Chance the Rapper. Ben has a copyright infringement with Telus. Wyatt is in a band. Ben is managing that band. They are university students on the side. But most importantly, they are the founders of The People Present: A Parkview Party. They are the People. But you are the People too. Your grandma and grandpa are also the People. This is all very important and you will be quizzed on it later. On the verge of its second go around the sun, A Parkview Party is exactly what the title suggests – it’s a party for the People, all of the People, and nothing but the People. “Getting people to see local music is almost like pulling teeth,” says Eddy. “People don’t want to give it a chance.” “But when you pair it with a party atmosphere, people are more wiling to come out, and when they do [they] kind of see what we’re talking about, what local music is all about,” adds Lalonde. Having a foot in Edmonton’s music scene for a few years now, Eddy can contest to the struggles first hand. His first band, Between Brothers, frequented small venues and pubs for shows, wrestling with turnout and not quite seeing the support they hoped for. This is what spurred the idea of A Parkview Party – an idea to bring people from all walks of life together through music. “Most of the time when you play at the Black Dog or somewhere like that, there is no crossover of fans. But what if we just invite all of the guys we know that are out there trying to make music, trying to do this, and just see what happened,” says Eddy.

Catering to the People, to so many different beings, is novel to this area. Nowhere in Edmonton will you find an event with such an eclectic array of genres over such a short period of time. If you like rock, they’ve got it. If you don’t like rock but like alternative indie folk rock because you have very specific needs and wants, they’ve got that too. DJ’s? Of course. Punk rock to make you mosh so hard you’ll need your mom to bring you a fresh change of clothes? You betcha’. They even have a genre self-proclaimed as “ravine music”, a blending of foggy noise and rap/R&B. “We want [artists] who the first thing they ask is if they can play, not ‘how much am I going to get paid?'” says Lalonde. “We found a great group that has that mentality.”

They don’t strive for this mix of bands to satisfy some inner need – they strive for it to cater to a greater collective. “We try to invite as many varied people as we can in terms of performers so we can get as many different kinds of fans out there as possible” says Eddy. “[Last year] it was a crazy mix between girls who were into Stevie’s music and greasy dudes who showed up for us [The Johnny Lemons], Withermoon, and Debutant. It was a crazy melting pot.” “It kind of sums up why we picked the name ‘The People’ and what we are trying to do,” adds Lalonde.

our-good-wolf

The first Parkview Party happened around this time last year, its success surpassing Lalonde and Eddy’s expectations – mostly because they didn’t have any. “We had no idea how it was going to go,” says Eddy. “It was nuts. At one point it was like ‘Dude, we have to stop letting people in, this place is full.'” But they didn’t, topping in at almost 300 people in a small hall with copious amounts of drink, food, and party People. “It was definitely great for a learning experience, but also it was great just because of what it was,” says Lalonde. “From the first party to this, if we could describe it in any other way, it’s going to be just as big, but twice as greasy.”

But what makes The Parkview Party right for Edmonton and its local music scene? “Edmonton music is super segregated, with lots of little cliques,” says Eddy. “The People is something that is super in-discriminatory.” It gives artists a voice to be heard and a means to be seen through something other than the status-quo. It’s a platform to showcase their work to people who might not think to give them a chance. There are even two bands performing this year, Machines Like These, and Make Me a Machine (ironically), who will be making their very first debut that evening. “The People gives specific cliques or genres the opportunity to hear other bands,” says Lalonde. “It’s back to that idea of a melting pot; there aren’t a lot of other shows or venues that provide that experience [in Edmonton].” And he’s absolutely right. Heading to a big music festival like Pemberton or Osheaga is great, but what is it supporting? Already huge artists who have an iron grip on the spotlight? A Parkview Party is so much more than that. It’s giving back to the local music scene, appreciating artists for their worth, and giving them a stage to display themselves and their honest love for what they do. “It’s hard to put a value on what the artists bring,” says Lalonde. “Last year Debutant only sold 8 tickets, but they [ended up bringing] so many people through the door, and they went so hard.” Being in local music, you aren’t in it for the money, fame, or that headliner spot on a stage where half the crowd can’t even see you anyway. You’re in it for the People, because really, what else is there to be in it for besides that and the music itself?

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“We actually want you to come, and we actually want you to bring your grandma and your little brother,” says Eddy. ” A lot of places say that – ‘bring anyone’ – but we actually want to see your grandma. We want to see how weird it is when the drunk frat dude at the front is right next to your grandma and they’re both digging The Johnny Lemons or whoever is up there.” “My grandma was actually at the last one and she had a hell of a time,” says Lalonde, very matter of fact. A Parkview Party encompasses everything that music has come and should represent – a collective audience connected through something that so easily creates cliques on its own. “The ultimate goal of A Parkview Party is that right as the last band drops into their hardest song, the cops show up and try to close it down, and the people start fighting back,” says Eddy, reminiscent of a time when genres likes rock n’ roll were an ideology and not just a sound through the speakers. And that’s what A Parkview Party is going to give you; a reminder that music isn’t just noise, it’s a whole community.

For more info on The People Present: A Parkview Party on December 3rd, you can check out the Facebook event here. Tickets are $5, drinks are $3, but the experience itself is priceless. Maybe I got that from that Mastercard commercial that doesn’t seem to want to die, but it’s true. A good party is only as good as its drunkest guest. A Parkview Party is as good as the sum of its parts, multiplied by ten, shaken, not stirred – plus a healthy dose of fog machines.

Want a sneak preview of some of a few of the artists performing? Check out this comprehensive yet highly diluted list below:

The Johnny Lemons

How do you describe a band that describes their sound as “like a dog on your front porch”? Well, first you ask the reader to think of a dog on their front porch. Then you ask them to picture what kind of sound would be playing in the background to that scene. Then you play a Johnny Lemons song for them. If it’s the same sound, then you did a good job. If not, then they were probably thinking of a shitty dog like a Chihuahua or a Maltese and should not be listening to the Johnny Lemons anyway.

Stevie Raikou

This is that ravine music guy I had mentioned earlier. I am still not sure what constitutes this as “ravine music” but I am not going to question it as my house backs onto a church parking lot and not a ravine and I do not know much of the outside world.

Our Good Wolf

Probably one of the sweetest and most honest sounding bands in the lineup (no offense to everyone else, I just attribute this to their folk music background), this group will definitely leave a smile on your grandma’s face if your grandma is a very hip 20-something-year-old that wears polyester blouses and has never held an iPad.

Debutant

This is the band that is going to make you really sweaty and will probably have more fun than you will the whole night. One of Eddy’s favourites, Debutant is everything you could hope for and more from a local punk rock group with a  sound reminiscent of simpler times. They will also probably definitely do a shot with you before, during and after their show.

Strider White

Strider actually approached Eddy and Lalonde himself and asked to play at A Parkview Party. That’s a very boss move. Strider is also his actual name, which explains why he can make such boss moves. An avid DJ in Edmonton’s music scene, the most important thing you need to know about his music is that he has named his genre of DJing after himself (according to Facebook) and that is probably the most boss move ever.

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