Fun in the (lack of) sun

The Big Fun Festival aims to brighten the darkest month

B.A. Johnston


Venetian Snares


Hey Winnipeg, it’s time to come out of hibernation mode. 

The Big Fun Festival, running Jan. 22 to 26 at various downtown Winnipeg venues, wants to “give the people of Winnipeg a reprieve to the brutal winter by organizing a unique and exciting weekend of events in the bitterly cold stretch of our darkest month”, according to its website, 

At Big Fun, you can bar hop on a $60 pass and check out a diverse range of artists from sludge metal band Dead Ranch to electronic music maniac Venetian Snares. Looking for ideas? Check out these acts.

Windsor Hotel, Jan. 24, 8 pm

ATLAAS is what happened when singer/songwriter Heather Thomas went on tour with Ricardo Lopez-Aguilar of Oldfolks Home. 

“He was helping me on my EP and it eventually became more of a collaboration,” Thomas says. “The vocal was always the most important part of a song for me, and he brought complexity to the music. I don’t know how to describe it, it’s just great.” 

ATLAAS’s show will be varied in tone, making it a great sampler platter of local talent, including alt-country band The Bros. Landreth and indie-pop band Indicator Indicator. 

“It should be really interesting. We’re still developing our sound, I would say we’re weird indie pop, but that’s what all pop is now so I don’t know,” Thomas says.

Union Sound Hall, Jan. 23 at 10 pm

Returning champs Warsaw are excited to play their second show at the Big Fun Festival. 

“I didn’t think we were going to play this year,” says Warsaw guitarist Josh Bedry. “The guys in KEN mode [Winnipeg noise rock band] threw our name out to METZ [the Toronto buzz band that headlines that night]. We’re big fans, so it didn’t matter what we were doing that night, we had to play this show.” 

As it turns out, Warsaw has a lot in common with METZ. 

“We discovered this huge mutual history,” says bassist Ethan Osland. “If you’ve been touring, you’re engrossed enough in the scene that you cross paths. There’s nothing like it and those connections will stay solid.” 

Of the demographic expected for its show, Bedry says it’s “easier to say who shouldn’t go. If you don’t like fun, rock ’n’ roll or loud abrasive guitars under dreamy pop vocals, stay away!”

B.A. Johnston
Windsor Hotel, Jan. 25 at 10 pm

“They bought me a plane ticket!” says oddball pop superhero B.A. Johnston, who will be making a special appearance at Big Fun, flying in from Hamilton, Ont. specifically for the show.

Johnston exemplifies the D.I.Y approach to music that many local bands cherish. 

“No one helps me with anything,” he says. “My mom might drive me to the airport, that’s about it.” 

A cult success, Johnston is used to people having mixed reactions to his unique stage presence, with shows that usually end in the bathroom, but he welcomes audience members from all walks of life. 

“Everyone should come to this show. Old people, young people, Juggalos, astronauts. What else do they have to do? Nothing bad will happen.”

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