Canadian classic rockers April Wine take the stage during the seventh annual Rock the Block concert on Friday night in downtown Brandon. The festival has become a traditional celebration of the first week of post-secondary classes in the city. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
Kahlia Myran takes a front row seat during the seventh annual Rock the Block concert on Friday night in downtown Brandon. The festival has become a traditional celebration of the first week of post-secondary classes in the city. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
A long lineup snakes its way up Rosser Avenue to the entrance of the Rock the Block concert on Friday evening. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
As dusk settled in, the bass cranked up as nearly 3,000 students, professors and music lovers packed downtown Brandon Friday night for the seventh annual Rock the Block concert.
By 7:30 p.m., the lineup had already reached around the Brandon Public Library as people eagerly waited to enter a portion of Rosser Ave. that had been shut down between Seventh and Ninth streets to make way for the rock show.
"It’s the biggest Rock the Block we’ve ever had," said Suz Duff, vice-president external of the Brandon University Students’ Union, who hosts the event annually.
"It’s amazing," Duff added. "It took four months to plan and it’s mind blowing to put this together, but it’s a lot of fun."
The crowd went wild, screaming and cheering as Toronto-based Down with Webster took the stage.
The festival, which in the past has featured Sam Roberts, The Trews, Bedouin Soundclash and Faber Drive continued its long-standing tradition of promoting Canadian talent again this year. But at the heart of it, the street soiree is all about bringing people together.
"It’s great to see all the students here enjoying themselves and it’s nice to see the students and the community come together," Duff said, adding that she met some her best friends at the first Rock the Block festival she went to.
Prior to the headliners taking the stage, Canadian classic-rock legends April Wine opened the show. The decision to get the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Famers on the stage was all about listening to what the students wanted, said Duff.
"We had some mature students in the past tell us that we don’t cater to their musical tastes, so this year we thought we’d offer some classic rock and it really helps us cater to the community as a whole too," Duff said.
And the move payed off, as more salt and pepper dashed the crowd and filled the picnic tables to the right of the stage.
"I’m here for April Wine," said Evelyn Gaboury, whose son, Greg, is a student at BU. "It’s great to support downtown and support BU."
And ‘Oh What a Night’ it was — for some, an introduction to the rock band that was formed in 1969 and has released more than twenty albums; for others, a trip down memory lane.
"A lot of the young people you talk to, for them, April Wine isn’t a big thing, and yeah, their ‘Our band,’" Gaboury said. "When I went to school, they were always, ‘Our Band.’"
My Darkest Days, from Toronto, bridged the gap between openers and closers, keeping the energy level up with heavy riffs and their brand of pop-rock-metal.
But for most in attendance, it was all about getting Down with Webster.
"It’s super exciting," said Casandra Odell, a 21-year-old student from Assiniboine Community College.
"I’ve got a few of their CDs and I’ve seen them before," Odell said. "It’s a great night."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 15, 2012