For the last 12 years a small town about an hour’s drive outside of Toronto has been hosting one of the longest running punk rock festivals in Ontario. Brantford’s Blackout Fest has become an anticipated destination for the local punk community as well as for bigger touring bands that would normally only play larger Ontario cities like Toronto and London. Every year for two days Blackout Fest founder James Mittendorf (who also fronts local punk act, Harbour) and his dedicated team have been bringing bands that they love to downtown Brantford. This year the festival takes place October 18-19th weekend throughout several venues with headliners including Direct Hit, Anti-Queens and Penske File.
We recently had a chance to touch base with James as we countdown to what promises to be Blackout Fest’s best year yet.
- Why is it important for a town like Brantford to have its own punk fest?
Small towns generally don’t get the bigger shows that the bigger cities receive. We’re often overlooked for bigger markets including Toronto, London, Hamilton, Kitchener, etc. so this is one of the ways we can get bigger acts in our small town. It’s also great because we don’t have the high costs that may accumulate in a larger city. For instance, any venues that are comparable in size in London or Toronto are thousands of dollars more to rent for the weekend than here in Brantford. We can help keep costs down in this sense. Fans also don’t have to pay $150-200+ a night in hotels and parking, where they can take advantage of a $100 hotel with free parking all across Downtown Brantford.
- This is the 13th year that you are putting on Blackout Fest. To what do you owe that kind of longevity and success?
A solid fan base and a team who works super hard to make Blackout Fest a success every year. It’s a ton of work to put something like this on, but we love every second of it.
- Give me some of your personal highlights from past Blackout Fests.
For our 10th year, we were fortunate enough to host Hawthorne Heights, debatably one of the biggest bands in emo rock. That was a real turning point year for the festival, as we felt like we set the bar fairly high. Being able to host one of my favourite bands, Living With Lions, last year was also a blast.
- What bands are on your wish list for next year’s Blackout Fest?
I actually have a couple bands confirmed for next year already, so I cannot say too much.
- What is your favourite munchie food?
Well, I’ve been crowned the chip king by all my friends.
Tickets are already on sale so take a page of out the Blackout Fest’s book and support your local punk rock scene.