“Being trapped in one room for twelve hours seeing all bands that sound the same is a fucking nightmare.”
Sardé Hardie, co-founder of Not Dead Yet, is laughing while she says this — you can tell she’s not going to say no to sticking it out for twelve hours at a basement punk show, nightmare or not — but her candour about her preference for a multi-venue, “choose-your-own-adventure” style festival in Ethan Hibionada’s newly released documentary, Collective Unconsciousness: The Not Dead Yet Story, is part of her punk and hardcore festival’s refreshing attitude in a city dominated by dinosaur mega-players and button-down orgs.
Hibionada’s documentary, released this past weekend, pays tribute to the fest that still largely flies under the radar in Toronto outside of the punk, hardcore, and noise scenes but has just dropped the lineup for their 6th year in the city, featuring G.L.O.S.S., Turnstile, La Misma, Barcelona, and many more. Watch the whole thing below.
The doc features footage of Not Dead Yet alumni S.H.I.T., VCR, Power Trip, and Career Suicide, plus interviews with band members including Ned Russin of Title Fight, who tells Hibionada that Not Dead Yet is a “testament to power of Toronto scene.”
Greg Benedetto, Not Dead Yet co-founder, former head of DIY space S.H.I.B.G.B.s, and members of bands S.H.I.T. and Pure Pressure, agrees, and in the doc I’m surprised to see one of the city’s most outspoken outsiders express so much love for Toronto — here, Benedetto’s almost giddy, for Benedetto.
“Having had the opportunity to leave [Toronto] a bunch and see how things are in other places, when Toronto is at its best it’s so much better than anywhere else. I don’t mean this in an arrogant, our-scene’s-better-than-yours mentality — everyone gets along here really well, there’s not as much shit talk as other cities, and everyone seems to enjoy when they’re participating, which I think is a really cool and unique thing.”
Benedetto stresses the importance of Not Dead Yet’s yearly art show component, which allows the festival to pay tribute to the DIY / Do It Together spirit of punk by showcasing zines, artwork, and photography. This year’s art show will be at new-ish Toronto venue and zine/music shop Faith/Void.
“Toronto’s had a hard time maintaining punk spaces,” Benedetto says in the doc, and hopes Not Dead Yet helps show the importance of supporting punk run spaces in the city like Faith / Void and D-Beatstro.
“It’s definitely something I think about,” Benedetto continues, “does the festival benefit the city? I don’t want to do it if it doesn’t benefit the city.”
Sardé’s laughing again. “What do you mean benefit the city?” she grins, “I don’t give a fuck about the city. I care about my friends in the scene — that I care about. Do I care about the tourism industry? No, not really.”
In 2016, the volunteer-run fest will take place across venues Faith/Void, Soybomb HQ, D-Beatstro, Coalition, Silver Dollar, and Velvet Underground. The lineup is below in alphabetical order. Full details here.
The Lowest Form
Full disc: I played a Not Dead Yet show in December and it was an awesome time.