The mainstage will be littered with keyboards and synthesizers on the opening night of the Dawson City Music Festival this Friday.
Rich Aucoin (Halifax) and Shout Out Out Out (Edmonton) will give DCMF concert-goers the first electronic dance acts in the festival’s 33-year history.
But don’t expect typical DJ sets. Aucoin and Shout Out Out Out Out will be bringing specialized gear and accessories which add exciting visual displays to their infectious dance beats.
Getting there might be eventful in its own right. Touring with electronic music gear isn’t easy, Aucoin says.
He often ends up spending time with airport security because he travels with an unusual number of homemade electronics.
“One security guard got so overwhelmed. The person in front of me in line had a book, and the guard carefully thumbed through each of the pages, then flipped the book over and shook it by the spine. I’m thinking to myself, this guard is gonna keep me here for an hour,” he recalls.
“When she opened my bag, I thought her head was going to explode. But she just waved me forward. She must have been thinking I don’t even want to deal with this.”
Aucoin’s highly interactive performance gets crowds dancing, singing and having good old-fashioned fun. Lately, his means of creating a party have raised suspicion when touring.
His key supplies include a colourful parachute (a relic from grade school gym class), a confetti gun (which was recently confiscated by Amsterdam airport security), and video projections (with song lyrics for singalongs, or, as Aucoin calls it, “crowd karaoke”).
Aucoin’s set up will also feature his brother Paul Aucoin on bass and Nathan Lawr of MINOTAURS on drums.
Nik Kozub and his bandmates in Shout Out Out Out Out won’t be packing lightly either.
The band consists of two drummers and four bass players who also play synthesizers.
“I think the current synth count in our setup is around seven or eight, plus a sampler and a vocoder, and a bunch of effects pedals.
“It’s kind of a pain hauling all our equipment around, but we love playing all those instruments, and it’s all quite important to our sound,” says Kozub.
Analog synths give Shout Out Out Out Out’s music its distinct, full sound. Kozub explains that analog synths create sound using electricity, with oscillating voltages being filtered and modulated by other voltages, whereas digital synths use samples of analog waveforms and complex math.
“The instruments we use are quite heavy, and they can drift in tuning a bit. Ppeople unfamiliar with analog synths often seem surprised to hear that we have to tune them before each set, just like a guitar.
“For us though, those impracticalities are trivial next to how rich and wonderful they sound, and how much fun they are to play.”
Like Aucoin, Shout Out Out Out Out performs a high energy show that aims to turn the tent into a giant dance floor.
“I’m sure it will be quite a departure for the die-hard folkie, but we do hope to engage and connect with everyone, regardless of their previous musical experiences.
“I think one of the reasons our band has connected with as many people as it has, is that we come from pretty diverse musical backgrounds and influences, and although we see ourselves mainly as an electronic dance act, we do definitely have some genre crossing rock elements, and maybe even some new-agey soundscape moments,” Kozub relates with a laugh.
DCMF will be the band’s first visit to the Yukon.
“I can honestly say that this is the most excited I’ve been for a show in quite some time,” says Kozub.
“I’m really going to be relying on local advice as to what I should check out and do.”
Aucoin last visited Dawson City in January of 2010, performing at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture and the Westminster Hotel.
“It felt like a real privilege to go up in the winter,” he recalls.
“This time I hope to do some swimming (or jumping in and out of the water) and hiking. It will be great to play so late at night and have it still be light out.”
Kozub and Aucoin guarantee a good time with their Friday night shows.
“We all have a blast playing, and I think it translates into a pretty fun show. High kicks do inevitably happen! I promise a spectacle,” says Kozub.
Aucoin recommends his show to anyone who wants to “yell along to songs with your friends in a big sweaty hug surrounded by confetti.
“And if you don’t have fun, you can punch me in the face!”