Big Music Fest 2015 Review: Big Sugar, Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden

Published on July 17th, 2015 in: Canadian Content, Concert Reviews, Music, Music Festivals, Reviews |

By Tyler Hodg

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Jane’s Addiction

From July 6 through 11 this year, Kitchener, Ontario was transformed into one of the hottest spots of this summer. Why, you ask? It’s because the annual Big Music Fest was held at McLennan Park once again, bringing some of the biggest rock acts in the world—including Jane’s Addiction and Soundgarden—to the city.

Friday July 10

Kitchener was treated to an entire day of free live music, with the annual Breaking Bands competition, plus a performance by the legendary Big Sugar. Here is a quick overview of that night..

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The Rathburns

Breaking Bands
The concept was simple: 20 local bands were given the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people. Surprisingly, the event went off without a hitch and everyone, including the bands and the crowd, seemed to be having a great time. Of course set-times were abysmal, but that didn’t deter many of the bands from giving it all that they had.

The last three bands to hit the stage were part of the Breaking Bands competition, where judges appointed a winning band based on their performance. Toronto’s The Rathburns were able to edge out Texas Kings and Crisis Control Club, scoring themselves studio time at Metal Works, merchandise of their choice, a performance slot at next year’s Big Music Fest, and—the one thing every band is truly thankful for—money. This young band has a bluesy-rock sound that was deserving of the accolades, and it will be interesting to see what the future has in store for them.

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Big Sugar

Big Sugar
Big Sugar has been a staple of Canadian rock for a long time (almost 25 years!), and their performance at this year’s Big Music Fest gave the town of Kitchener yet another reason to remember them. The band played a collection of hits and fan favorites—including “Digging a Hole,” “Turn the Lights On,” and “If I Had My Way”—leaving no soul dissatisfied. As usual, Big Sugar thrived off of the energy of the crowd, and the band heated up as the audience did (and they were pretty hot already!).

The only low point of the night came from Big Sugar’s opening band, Beautiful Nothing, as the group was unenthusiastic and acted as if they couldn’t care less if they were performing or not (as did the audience). That hiccup aside, Friday’s festivities were the perfect precursors to what was to come the following night.

Saturday July 11

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Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction

Jane’s Addiction
Following a ground-shaking performance by Monster Truck, 90’s favorites Jane’s Addiction put forth a truly hypnotic show filled with classic hits, back-up dancers, and memorable showmanship. Regrettably, the band was not on top of their game right out of the gate, with guitarist Dave Navarro showing visual signs of frustration due to sound issues. The problems were quickly worked out before the audience even seemed to notice, however, and the show rolled on.

Anyone that has any knowledge of the band knows that frontman Perry Farrell is awkwardly captivating, and he was no different at Big Music Fest. Possibly the most enthusiastic out of all of the members, he often joked with the audience and even (attempted) to tell a story about his trip to Niagara Falls that morning.

The crowd in Kitchener was very responsive to Jane’s Addiction, and were vocal about their appreciation for the band’s performance. The only complaint coming out of the night was that everyone wanted to see more from the group; they only played for an hour.

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Kim Thayil of Soundgarden

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Chris Cornell of Soundgarden

Soundgarden
Closing out the entire festival, grunge legends Soundgarden took the stage and reminded the good people of Kitchener that they are one of the best live bands ever. Since their reformation in 2010, Soundgarden has toured quite frequently, but it quickly became apparent that many people in the audience were seeing—and possibly hearing—them for the first time. While the crowd did get quite into the music, the festival setting also brought out the casual fans, leaving the audience seeming less enthusiastic than they should have been. Soundgarden’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, but it would have been nice had the crowd been more excited, both audibly and physically.

From fan favorites like “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman” to new(ish) tracks like “Been Away Too Long” and “By Crooked Steps,” there wasn’t a poorly performed song. Soundgarden definitely deserved the closing spot, as the band showcased their veteran status in the most youthful and energetic way.


Within the last few years, Big Music Fest has gained the reputation as one of the premiere rock festivals in Ontario—and all who attended this year can see why. Not only were most of the performances stellar, the environment was positive beyond belief. Big Music Fest 2015 was truly the place to be this past weekend, but if you missed it, don’t worry! With any luck, Big Music Fest will be bigger and badder next year.

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