I arrived into St. John’s on the eve of the festival to be with some of the people I have built strong friendships with since the inaugural Out of Earshot festival. From backyard dinner, to soft-serve twist cones, to pre-fest gathering, to a night swim under the stars, I really leaned into laughter, connection, and empathy.

When I woke up, the air felt crisp and cool and the sky promised us rain. I spent the day on a couch with my dear friend and her dog, intermittently sharing thoughts and feelings about community between typing away on our respective laptops.

When it came time to make our way to Eastern Edge Gallery for the artist meal and opening show, rain and fog had moved into the city. The OOE artist meal continues to be a beautiful space where people come together, share a meal, and catch up.

The line-up for the opening Out of Earshot show at Eastern Edge was Greta Warner, Weary, and Ilia Nicoll and the Hot Toddies.

Greta Warner, a young person living in St. John’s, played indie pop for us with only a guitar and loop pedal. Greta’s songs are honest narratives about loss, dating, and her connection to Lindsay Weir from the late 90’s show Freaks and Geeks.

greta warner.JPG

Photo by Krystal Morgan

Weary, a local soft-rock five-piece, followed Greta. Fronted by Kate Lahey, her banter reflects the ways she interacts with her world as simultaneously tender and tough. While being intentional and thanking her band, the sound people, the photographers, showing love and care for her friends, the girls rock alumni in attendance, and her partner, she also introduces her song Grocery Store by saying,

it’s hard to find spaces in St. John’s where you don’t scan the room for someone who makes you feel horrible. mine is the Sobey’s on Merrymeeting Rd.“.


Photo by Krystal Morgan

Increasing in tempo, momentum, and volume, the Eastern Edge show closes with Ilia Nicoll and the Hot Toddies – a playful and enigmatic local pop outfit. Since Ilia’s move to Toronto, her return to St. John’s to play music notoriously brings excitement to any space.

ilia nicoll

Photo by Krystal Morgan

With the rain getting heavier as the night progresses, some of the crowd disperses and some make their way up the alley to The Ship Pub.

The late night loud show starts with a relatively new hardcore / screamo local band, Gossamer, fronted by Rebecca Hammond. Gossamer brings a lot of chaotic energy by playing with auditory and physical space. Rebecca takes to the floor and gives the audience everything that she can.


Photo by Krystal Morgan

Walt, the Out of Earshot host of the night, introduces the following local band, Worst Lay. Fronted by Renee Sharpe, she introduces her music as a punk therapy session for herself, her band mates Pepa, Mitch, and Mara, and for everyone in attendance.

The next act, while differing in sound but similar in emotion, Backxwash, delivers a rap set that maintains the anger, but takes it to the next level. Parallel to Kate Lahey’s intro to Grocery Store earlier, Backxwash introduces her song Devil in a Moshpit by sharing that it’s about performing in front of someone that you hate.

Her music and performance is a powerful commentary on her experiences of oppression as a queer and trans black person [so like, you’re walking around harassing people because you’re uncomfortable in your own skin / this shit is ridiculous / i’m laughing at you / i don’t really give a fuck, no sympathy for the cis]. While this is only a glimpse of the dialogue that she has with her audience, this messaging is consistent throughout her music and performance.

Grief, a hardcore band from Halifax, closed out the first night of Out of Earshot. Giving my ears a rest, I listened to them from under an awning outside as I smoked a cigarette with a friend. As my cigarette finished, so did their set, but I’ll have a chance to see them again on Saturday.

Contribution by Nik A. Basset


Sunday is bright, grey, and cold. After last night’s abrupt end, I feel tired, and ready to let music wash the bad taste out of my mouth. When I arrive at Wilser’s Room just before one, coffee in hand, the bar is deserted except for a few locals chatting about last night’s shows. I take my coffee for a walk around downtown, taking in the changes the river has undergone between the receding flood and yesterday’s downpour.

When I return to the Capital Complex, local radio station CHSR has fired up a barbecue on the patio for their afternoon fundraiser, and are serving food to a trickle of people who have settled on the patio, bundled in layers against the wind. Inside Wilser’s room, local artist DenMother has started an solo set of experimental electronics, looping her voice through a high-reverb pedal to soar over bass-heavy beats. Her music gently injects some energy into the crowd, and the vibe becomes more lively. As people begin to fill the bar, Esme and the Dishrags take the stage, adding a cheery vibe to the bar’s newfound energy. A relatively new band, their sound is poppy and driven, with songs dedicated to beloved pets, and interludes of relaxed, friendly banter.

Next door at the Shiftwork Studio, Terre Wa is running a pop up sound installation, Synthetic Textures. The band has set up a clothesline across the studio and draped it with various garments and textiles, each of which has contact mics embedded into the fabric. Erin Goodine guides passersby to touch, crumple, and waving each item, thereby adding to an airy soundscape established by Indigo Poirier and Emily Kennedy, who are seated below the clothesline, playing synths and cello respectively. For a while, I wander through the studio and try running my hands through the various scarves and garments on the clothesline, experimenting with the sounds they make–though the installation reminds me of running through suspended laundry as a child, it also feels like a relaxing but unusual kind of sound and texture therapy.

Back at Wilser’s room, St.John’s based band Weary sway a hazy Sunday crowd with intimate, down-tempo rock ballads. Singer and guitarist Kate Lahey is backed by Property, an indie trio also from St. John’s who played Flourish on Thursday night. Lahey’s thoughtful, emotional lyrics are well-matched with the tentatively sunny afternoon, offering a warmly introspective rest after a long weekend of festival outings.

While listening, I find myself distracted, thinking about how many bands and performers I’ve missed over the past few days, including Property, but I have to acknowledge how tired I feel after rushing between venues trying to cram myself with as much art as I can in one weekend. I’m a chronic overachiever, but I need more rest than I want to admit. No matter how much fun it is, this weekend has been taxing–I can only admire the stamina required of the festival’s performers and organizers. For a minute, it feels like cheap irony to admit my weariness while listening to Weary, until I realize that this is what Lahey’s songwriting asks you to do: to listen, to admit your flaws, and to let yourself feel.

After Weary’s set, I walk back to Shiftwork, where Terre Wa’s installation has opened up to become Sunday Music Spa. Described as “an ambient electronic music session open to all women, femme, and non-binary people,” the Music Spa has been hosted on more or less monthly basis by Erin Goodine and Indigo Poirier for just over two years. Having attended a few times and loved the experience, I have chosen to make this my last event for this year’s Flourish festival.

To open the session, textile artist Melissa McMichael, of Mermaid Boyfriend, leads a group meditation, guiding everyone present into a tender memory of her late grandmother. McMichael’s soft-spoken storytelling creates a palpable empathy between its listeners, who begin to laugh and breathe together before emerging back into the present. This feeling of being in tune with one another continues as the music spa proceeds, with Indigo and Erin inviting non-musicians to try out the various instruments, including consoles, keys, and contact mics laid out across the studio.

As the dozen or so people moving through the studio relax into the soundscape, most of the men in the room hang back and listen, leaving room for women, femme, and non-binary folks to step forward and play. It feels fitting for this to be the last Flourish event I attend. More than anything, I think, moments like this this are the festival’s most valuable creations: moments when those who feel underrepresented or unwelcome in conventional music scenes are invited to experiment and create together. As the sound swells around me, I am already hopeful that next year’s Flourish Fest will make more of this.

There is, of course, room to grow: in the future, the festival could work with venues to make shows safer and more accessible, and there is much work to do before BIPOC performers and audiences feel fully welcome, let alone invited. Whatever rough moments I experienced attending this year’s festival, I direct no blame or resentment at Flourish’s organizers and artists, whose work has already made this festival into something integral to the arts community in New Brunswick and beyond. If I can get away with a sappy, but earnest pun: flourishing is not about an end product, anyway–it’s an ongoing beginning.

Contribution by Rebecca Salazar (she/her)

Rebecca Salazar is the author of the knife you need to justify the wound (Rahila’s Ghost) and Guzzle (Anstruther Press). Recent publications include poetry and non-fiction in Briarpatch, Minola Review, and The Puritan. Rebecca is currently a poetry editor for The Fiddlehead and Plenitude magazines, and a PhD candidate at UNB.


Weary’s debut music video for “Bruise”, the first single off their debut album Feeling Things (2017), was produced as part of the Nickel Independent Film Festival Music Video Incubator Project. Under the mentorship of Lian Morrison, frontwoman and first time filmmaker Kate Lahey co-directed the video.

Exploring the connections between personal trauma and resource extraction, healing and land relations, this video archives the messy entanglement of personal and political harm. Relations to land, self and movement are sites of healing as the video takes the viewer for a walk along the rugged terrain of Newfoundland’s treacherous cliffside. “Bruise” reminds us that tenderness can be an act of resistance.

I know that playing music, and navigating the music industry, is something that is still quite new to you, so I am curious about how you also felt as a first time filmmaker. What was this experience like for you? Were there any challenges or barriers that surprised you?

I feel really fortunate to have had a really similar experience. Because this was part of the Nickel Independent Film Festival Music Video Incubator, I worked under the mentorship of Lian Morrison, who is a really smart, easy going filmmaker here in St. John’s. Lian was really encouraging of experimentation, doing things your own way, not needing a bunch of gear to make cool stuff, trying different things and just having fun and finding inspiration in your own vision. From shooting to editing and all the little tricks in between, I feel like I got a really incredible crash course. I think because I’m a lifelong student – I just thrive in learning environments. I love learning from other people, I love seeing folks who are really passionate about and good at their work. I love working with people who are so excited to share that passion and inspiration with others, who don’t hoard their knowledge or let their ego get in the way or uphold exclusivity hierarchies. I’m really grateful to have Lian as that person for me with this video, and I’ve been really grateful to have women like Joanna Barker as my mentor and support in music.

Through knowing you, and all your work, it’s hard for me to imagine that everything isn’t always thoughtful and intentional. Can you share with me your relationship to the colour orange and why it seems to reveal itself in all things Weary?

Orange became a really important colour to me throughout the making of “Feeling Things”. I was navigating grief and loss, but also healing and my sense of belonging to home, Newfoundland. When you spend time on this land, you see orange everywhere: ties signalling property lines, oil rigs and buoys, etc. For me, orange came to demarcate sites of construction, extraction, and sometimes emergency. I felt a huge connection between the emotional wounds of trauma and the wounds this land sustains from colonialism and environmental exploitation/extraction. I felt that orange signalled the weird paradox of trauma feeling both hypervisible and completely invisible.

And while I felt kinship and shared experience with the land in this way, orange also taught me that healing and hurting are really complicated, messy entangled processes. Orange also reminded me of the fishing flies and bobbers I used trouting with my grandfather as a kid, the orange vest my nan wore in a picture of her hunting, or the ties that signal paths and trap lines. So the relationship between me, my memories, land and trauma are also all tied up in healing, family, survival and resilience.

Could you elaborate more on the importance of walking alongside Newfoundlands treacherous cliffside for this video, this song, and your feelings behind writing it?

For the same reasons, it was really important for me to braid together myself, orange and this land in a slow and meditative way. Walking is a really important part of my nan’s life that was passed to my mom and to me. Berry picking along trails is a really special practice for me. Being with the ocean is a really special practice for me. I feel small and connected to the bigger picture of my life, my family and the universe. Feeling small and connected is a comforting, healing way for me. Walking in the wilderness makes me feel grounded and rooted and connected and safe. I wanted the video to feel slow and big and quiet and meditative. I wanted to capture the prayer of walking with your memories, your ancestors and your wounds.

I want to comment on how deep this messy entanglement between personal and political is and how well you illustrate this through lyrics that do not offer any distinction between the two. I’m thinking a lot about healing and resilience, especially with the song title “Bruise”, and how this looks both personally and politically for you. Do you feel like there is a deep entanglement here, too?

Absolutely! I think I like to intentionally sort of just make things for myself that make sense for me and resonate with my experiences. Healing and resilience are the crux of the album — “Bruise” was the first single because I feel like it really speaks to anger and hurt, but also to resilience and survival. For me, both personally and politically, healing and resilience has been really messy and confusing. It’s been non-linear and complicated and about a whole lot more than me. The title of the album is also meant to speak to the abundance of feelings that course through and the paradoxical oscillations of anger and rage, numbness and isolation, joy and resistance, relief and security that might rise and fall. This was also a way of holding and validating all these contradictory moods and reactions for myself and for others. I tried to be empathetic.

In the final moments of the video, you gaze at your audience as you sing the lyrics “you don’t seem to see me”. What is the lasting impact or impression that you are trying to leave?

I think for me this lyric and this shot are again tied into the paradoxical duality of hypervisibility and invisibility of trauma. For me this was a political call, but also a personal act of resistance. Sort of a way to challenge ideas of viewership and access, and to confront the audience with my own power and gaze. There was something important about denying the audience my face throughout the video, about controlling that dynamic and claiming ownership. Keeping things vague and messy, like my connection to orange and land, is a way for me to control what ideas, feelings, memories, and relationships I get to keep sacred and private. It’s also a way to allow others to just feel that affective vibe of a slow walk along the ocean, without projecting all of my own experiences onto it so heavy handedly, I think it lets others’ bring what they need to that process. I like open ended, human lines like “I don’t want to love you anymore”. I think there’s just a lot of room there, I want that space to be an invitation. “You don’t seem to see me” is also a way of saying “I see you”.

Bruise Still 3

Photo by Kate Lahey and Lian Morrison

See Weary live:

April 27th – bloom fest w/ Property @ Thunder & Lightning, Sackville, NB.

April 28th – FLOURISH Festival @ The Capital Complex, Fredericton, NB.

May 1st – w/ Property @ Menz and Mollyz, Halifax, NS.

May 3rd – East Coast Music Awards, Charlottetown, PEI.

Contribution by Nikki A Basset and Kate Lahey