Some veteran punk rockers took it upon themselves to organize an event to bring together community, foster its growth and develop its future with a monthly Sunday matinee that celebrates punk like few other shows.
"After playing in a band for almost 30 years, you end up doing the same routine with the same people a lot of the time, so you end up losing touch with the next generation of people coming up," says Problem on the origins of Slamfest, that he helped spearhead with Hammer City Records' Craig Caron some eight years ago. "There are all of these great young bands but when I was seventeen years old, it was hard for us to get shows and get into shows. CBGB's did all ages shows at least monthly when it existed and I thought why don't we have one in Hamilton. It's a showcase for any band to get up on the stage and play and that's evolved from there. We'll keep doing it as long as there are bands that want to play Slamfest."
Some four hundred bands have played over the years, minus some minor repeats and while the popularity of the event may have had some ebbs and flows, the last year has seemed to garner more attention in Problem's opinion.
"That's a lot of bands over eight years," says Problem. "Whenever it seems that we have a poor turnout for one show, it seems to turn around and pick up again. This last year has seen the steadiest turn outs over the whole eight years so it seems to be getting stronger over time.
"For the eighth anniversary, I wanted to get as many Hamilton bands as possible but while there are a lot of great bands here, there are also a lot of shows these bands are playing," adds Problem. "I had about four or five bands ready for this show but then some friends from Montreal called the Nailheads got in touch because they're on tour and wanted to play and I thought it'd be kind of cool for them to play as well. But then, I got a couple of other bands from Chicago and Montreal that wanted to play as well... so I thought let's just get more bands and make the show last longer for this anniversary. Why not have a big party with eight bands, DJs on the patio with a barbecue and food for people and make a big afternoon long celebration."
Problem has just returned from another tour with this two piece punk band, that took Artificial Dissemination to Eastern Canada for the first time but this weekend, Problem helps bring the punk world to Hamilton and fans can experience a show curated by a serious Hamilton punk veteran.
"We always try to do a really diverse bill - Decomposeur is a one man band that played the first Slamfest and he's still doing it eight years later, Scabs Off is a young metal band that probably hasn't played many punk shows. We've got punk and metal and old school and Oi! - we've got a little bit of everything - a nice wide range of music because who wants to listen to eight bands that sound the same.
"The only thing that could be disappointing is I though there'd be more people aged fifteen to eighteen years old at these shows," confides Problem. "I would have loved to see bands at that age and had to sneak into bars to see punk bands. We get people in their twenties, thirties, forties and fifties that come to our shows and a lot of the underage people are way underage - like parents with their kids. We get a lot of people that have gone to punk rock shows for a long time and now they're bringing their kids so that's kind of cool because it's sometimes the only time a kid can see their parents play. The event has taken on more of a family atmosphere in some ways. We want all ages which means babies to like Chris Houston. Right now, as long as bands want to play, and people come to see them, and I still have the time, we'll keep doing it."
The Sunday Slamfest 8 Year Slamiversary happens this Sunday July 28 at This Ain't Hollywood with Nailheads, Jonesy, Poison Boys, Barbed Wire Braces, TFS, Adelleda, Decomposeur, and Scabs Off. Show gets underway by 3pm and $6 gets you in. Click on thisainthollywood.ca