The Vancouver Fringe Festival plays host to some of the most exciting performers that Canada has to offer. And we’re not just talking about its actors and actresses.
Back for its second year, the pop-up Big Rock Brewery Fringe Bar will once more transform into the city’s most vibrant musical hotspot. Showcasing 16 of the city's very best artists over its 10-day residency at Granville Island’s Ocean Art Works, the Fringe Bar promises to be a mecca for music-loving theatre-goers.
Diversity is the name of the game. Featuring acts as vibrant as folk duo Hollow Twin and funky R&B performer Tonye Aganaba, plus established Vancouver Jazz Fest alumni Los Duendes and swampy bluegrass collective Wooden Horsemen, the Big Rock Brewery Fringe Bar offers something to satisfy all tastes after the sun has set on the day’s theatre.
“The Fringe Bar is the heart of the festival,” explains Entertainment Programmer Corbin Murdoch on the line to the Straight. “It’s a social hub where theatrical and musical artists can rub elbows with audience members, volunteers, and staff too. A lot of the performers at the festival are on tour across the country, and they’ve got a lot of war stories to tell. The Big Rock Fringe Bar provides a great forum for that.
“The Fringe Festival is all about recommendations and word-of-mouth, and being sociable,” Murdoch continues. “We want to animate the event’s communal spaces with live music. Practically, we’re looking to put on a good party. And then, on a more philosophical level, it’s great to have the opportunity to introduce theatre folk to what’s happening in the music scene, and vice versa. There’s a really exciting cross-pollination happening there, and the Big Rock Brewery Fringe Bar is proud to facilitate that integration.”
In the spirit of the Fringe Festival’s theatre, the bar aims to create excitement through the unknown. Showcasing esoteric Vancouver performers often overlooked by the city’s bigger venues, audience members are—like attendees at the Fringe’s dramatic performances—not quite sure what they’re going to get.
“There is some light-touch curation in how I’ve set up the bill,” Murdoch confirms with a laugh. “I’ve paired bands that I think will go well together—but sometimes they’re not the most obvious choices. One of my favourite decisions is grouping Wishkicker with Limbs of the Stars. They’re coming from two different directions, but I think will make for a beautiful alchemy on the night.”
The Fringe Festival is famed for its off-the-wall vibe and its inclusivity, and the Big Rock Brewery Fringe Bar follows the same tradition. With one whole evening set aside for a no-holds-barred karaoke night, and another earmarked for a live-string-band-backed square-dance, the bar offers plenty of opportunity for audience involvement—and, in the true spirit of the Fringe, making a fool of yourself onstage.
Because what could be more Fringe-like than becoming a performer yourself.
The Big Rock Brewery Fringe bar is located at Ocean Art Works, in front of Ocean Concrete on Granville Island. Performances run nightly from September 8 until September 18, beginning at 8pm. The full lineup details can be found here.
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