Arts & Entertainment
6 min

Rocking out

What's queer at this year's Canadian Music Fest

Vancouver's Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party performs at this year's Canadian Music Fest.
“In my travels to different international music events, I’ve found that as the world becomes more open and accepting of queer communities and laws pass in countries where we never thought we’d see laws pass, you start to see it reflected in the music scene and at festivals,” says Cameron Wright, the openly gay director of the Slacker Canadian Music Fest.
 
Wright feels it’s crucial to spotlight the queer community in the same way as other cultural communities.
 
Donne Torr, a founding member of Vancouver’s Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party, says, “We always wanted a band name that confuses, inspires and disarms people.”
 
The group is playing a performance-enhanced DJ set as a part of the festival.
 
“You either get it or you don’t, and if you do, then you come to our shows, you love it and you join our little party train,” says Torr. “There have been some bigger labels who have told us that they love the music but hate the name. To that we’re like, ‘Eff you. If the name is such a big deal we don’t want to be a part of your organization.’”
 
Meanwhile, straight dance pop artist Eric Solomon says Proud FM was the first radio station in Canada to play his single.
 
“Every single and remix I’ve released they’ve played and supported,” says Solomon, who will play alongside queer-friendly acts Dragonette and Young Empires at Proud FM’s high-profile Canadian Music Week showcase.
 
Solomon feels that it’s getting easier for mainstream straight acts to reach out to gay fans and that to do so is to the artists’ benefit.
 
”The gay community is always on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s hip, so it’s definitely a community I value and wanted to be a part of,” Solomon says. “I like to stand and be a part of something that is all about a strong and powerful message.”
 
Another group playing this year’s festival is electronic dance duo Light Fires.
 
Reg Vermue says his drag persona Regina, who fronts Light Fires, has an in-your-face quality on stage. “I like to call her the intelligent drag woman. She is educated and aware, she’s her own independent woman, she’s very interactive and she’s got no inhibitions,” he says. “It’s definitely the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done. I’m always drenched in sweat at the end of every show.
 
“We automatically get offers for things like Pride shows, but we’ve done shows with bands like Psychedelic Furs and Fucked Up at regular rock venues and it works surprisingly well with all sorts of crowds,” Vermue says. “I think it’s more effective to play for unassuming people than for a specifically queer venue and crowd who are more used to seeing a drag performance. When I’m playing at a straight bar and I’m the only drag queen that’s been in there ever, it’s a whole different thing, and I get off on that a bit.”
 
Wright agrees.
 
“As a young gay person I was always at rock events all the time and I found it really difficult, and I would have found it more comfortable had I known that some of the people that I admire on stage were gay,” he says.  

The Deets:

Slacker Canadian Music Fest
Runs from Wed, March 21 to Sun, March 25 at various venues.
canadianmusicfest.com