JOURNEYMAN PRODUCTIONS BRING 15 EARTH-SHATTERING BANDS TO THE RICKSHAW THEATRE
Written by Johnny Papan
“I considered naming the festival something personal about me, but I couldn't think of anything that sounded quite right. The best one I could come up with was HessFest, which I almost went with. Thankfully I didn't because that's one of the corniest names imaginable.”
Colton Hession is a face behind Journeyman Productions, one of Vancouver’s core heavy-music promotion companies. He booked his first show on January 20, 2018, at the Astoria. In spirit, Hession would consider this event, headlined by Vancouver’s KOSM, the Vth Circle and Anarcheon, the first Winterfest. The first official Winterfest was January 19, 2019, and headlined by Apollyon and Galactic Pegasus.
Now, almost exactly two years after booking his very first show, Hession is ringing in the New Year with Vancouver’s first festival of the decade, the second annual New Year’s Winterfest, a two-day metal smasher taking place at the Rickshaw Theatre on January 24 and 25.
This year’s festival features many local talents such as Hession’s band, Thousand Arrows, KOSM, The Hallowed Catharsis, Saints of Death, Gross Misconduct and more. Most notably, the festival is headlined by homegrown progressive sludge giants, Anciients. Pound from Seattle, Washington is another highly anticipated addition.
“Variety was without a doubt the theme I was going for,” says Hession. “There's some death metal, power metal, prog metal, melodic death metal, black metal, technical death metal, instrumental sludge-y mathcore, and even pagan metal. This year I really wanted to expand the roster and bring in some out of town bands. To me, that makes the lineup and show feel more special since there's a lot of bands that you're not going to get the chance to see here very often. First Reign, for example, hasn't played a show in Vancouver for over 5 years, I believe. I took all those factors into consideration when I put the lineup together, I wanted to make the show feel important and be one that people will be talking about for a long time.”
With over 15 bands spanning metal’s deepest, darkest and most destructive sub-genres, Winterfest aims to rattle the city with earth-shaking magnitude. Making this an annual festival to start each year in Vancouver, Hession doesn’t want to simply “ring in” the New Year, or even “start it with a bang,” he wants to cause a cataclysm that grows in scale each year.
“I'm hoping to build up a strong community of recurring fans under the Winterfest name,” he says. “With the name ‘New Year's Winterfest’, nobody's going to forget that it's in January. I was thinking of going just with Winterfest, but to me, it felt like it needed something extra on it, so I settled with New Year's, what with it being in January. To some, it may seem like a fairly basic name, but there was a lot of thought and a lot of factors involved in deciding on it.”
Hession concludes: “Without a doubt, check out all the bands ahead of time. With such a varied lineup of both new and well-established bands, as well as some out of town ones, there's a good chance you might not be familiar with every one of them. For that reason, I put a sampler playlist together on Spotify, featuring a handful of songs from every band playing. Even if there are only one or two bands on the lineup that you're familiar with, I guarantee that if you like some of the bands, you'll like the rest of them too.”
New Year's Winterfest takes place at the Rickshaw Theatre on January 24 and 25.