Celebratory rock & roll from Calgary, Alberta.

Metro – Flood Relief Interview

Metro did a nice little piece about the importance of music and community in the face of the devastating Alberta floods. Read the full story here.

Photo: Lincoln Agnew

Photo: Lincoln Agnew

For the members of Calgary riff rockers Napalmpom, playing flood relief benefit shows isn’t just a way of helping out the community, it’s also a chance to say thanks.

The fun-loving five-piece was among thousands in the Mission area affected when the Elbow River overflowed two weeks ago.

“We lost our rehearsal space,” explains guitarist, Shawn Petsche.

“But our dear friend played the hero and salvaged all of our gear, leaving personal items behind. We owe her so much. Her and people like her across Calgary are the reason we want to help as much as we can.”

Since forming a year-and-a-half ago, Napalmpom has become a popular local draw with its boisterous, over-the-top guitar assault and entertaining live show.

Petsche says the band had originally wanted to take a break but couldn’t say no to the many flood relief shows they’ve been offered since the Elbow and Bow Rivers burst their banks.

“I can’t say for sure if we are helping folks cope with displacement and loss of memories, homes, money, on any kind of emotional level,” says Petsche.

“But rock and roll has been an enduring and meaningful driver in my life, so I know that for me, a remarkable rock show can be a revelation that puts things in perspective and takes all of my troubles away.”

Petsche has another reason to want to give back to the city’s local music fans. As festival manager of the annual Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, Petsche was forced to pull the plug halfway through this year’s event due to many of the venues being in the evacuation zones.

But instead of feeling devastated at the loss of a year’s worth of work, Petsche was inspired by how people came together to help salvage some of the shows. Nicknamed Flood Island, homes, backyards, basements and unaffected venues hosted last-minute gigs, some of which still attracted hundreds of people.

Napalmpom singer P.J. Lavergne says it was a perfect example of the music community’s ability to work together.

“I was going stir-crazy in an apartment with seven other evacuees … when the opportunity came up,” he says.

“Of course I wanted to play. Just watching the news and sitting there you build up all these emotions and energy and it was all before the cleanup began, so we were all feeling so helpless. It felt great to be able to channel all that and just hop on stage and yell and scream.”

If you go…

•    Shows. Napalmpom plays a fundraiser for the Calgary Humane Society on Thursday night at the Palomino as well as Broken City on Friday.
•    Proceeds. From the Broken City gig will go to a friend who lost her belongings in the flood, but saved the band’s gear from getting destroyed.