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Banff promotion that gave heartbeat to alternative music scene celebrates 10 years

“I put the pulse into it, I put the spark on it, but I didn’t make it grow on its own. It was the help of other people.”

BANFF – Metal, Kasey Suchowersky says, is a release of your negative energies in a positive output.

For the past decade in the Bow Valley, a show doesn't go by where the metalhead isn't there supporting the scene and head banging along to the heavy rhythm and music. To those new to the scene, Suchowersky probably just seems like the biggest fan of these bands – in some ways he is.

But to those who know Suchowersky, they appreciate his dedication to be a main driver in building a music scene in the Bow Valley. When the speakers are blowing off the roof of a downtown venue, it probably means there is a Beauty in Chaos Productions (BIC) show in town.

The local promotion founded by Suchowersky, which gave a pulse to the live alternative music scene in the Bow Valley, is celebrating 10 years of promotion with a free show Thursday (Sept. 21) at Melissa’s MisSteak in Banff.

With the doors opening to the community at 9 p.m., the night is set to feature Banff bands Suspended Glaciers, Human Stain, and J-Rats, Canmore fingerstyle guitarist Kyle Pullan, and Siksika Nation band Iron Tusk. Local DJs will close out the show.

“It’s a big deal,” said Suchowersky, promoter of BIC. “If you asked me 10 years ago if I would have been doing this now, I would have said hell no.

“I kept it going because I developed a love for it.” 

Giving a platform to different genres in hard rock, punk and metal, BIC has had more than 50 shows in Banff and Canmore, two one-day music festivals, and booked talent such as Divinity, Ripcordz, and Dayglo Abortions, Canada’s most legendary punk band.

“When people found we had Dayglo, they were like, ‘how the F did you get that going?’” Suchowersky said with a laugh.

BIC, however, has always given the local scene exposure. It’s been a staple at Suchowersky’s shows. 

“Kasey's drive to consistently bring great bands out to the Bow Valley is unmatched," said Chris Cushman, musician and promoter of Pitworthy Promotions in Banff.

BIC and Pitworthy Promotions have teamed up on occasion to bring in bands to the valley. Joining forces is something both promoters have enjoyed.

"It is so easy to collaborate with [Suchowersky] on shows; we find a good mix of bands and run with it," said Cushman. "We have done probably 15 shows together and it's always a great turn out. If it was up to me, we would be doing a show together every month in Banff."

Remembering back to BIC’s first show held on Sept. 2, 2013 at the Aurora Nightclub in Banff, which is now High Rollers, it was Suchowersky's friendly gesture to help get friends a gig.

Calgary metal bands Arsenal and Hellborn Death Engines were looking to stop in the mountain town as part of their tour, so they reached out to their long haired metal-head friend to see if he knew of any venues that would host their heavier sound.

“This was before I had ever done any promotion work in my life … I had no idea where to go,” Suchowersky said. 

Suchowersky sent out several shot-in-the-dark messages to different venues around town. The Devil’s Gap bar, which had its own alternative music scene happening, was quick to say they weren’t interested, Suchowersky said. 

Not sure if he would get any responses, Aurora Nightclub replied with interest in giving the metal show a try. About 60 people came through the doors to check it out. 

A few months later, the Aurora Nightclub shut down and the local metal scene quickly quieted down again.

“It was a running joke that my show killed the Aurora,” Suchowersky said with a laugh. 

“I thought it was going to be a one-time thing … it was a year and half before I had the second show, taking place at the Elk and Oarsman (in Banff). It was the same kind of way it happened the first time, with friends reaching out, and then it went from there with more shows.

“I had no idea what it would grow into.”

At that time, it was difficult to find any spots around the Bow Valley that gave space for the alternative scene, but more and more spots started warming up to the idea.

Starting out and getting things going was the toughest part of it all, said Suchowersky, but the metal lover was determined to get the wheels spinning – even if that meant butting heads with people who didn’t like what he was doing.

So began the battle of the posters.

The disrespect was louder than the metal shows when it came to pinning promotional posters on different public bulletin boards around town. Suchowersky said he would often discover his posters ripped down or missing after a few days.

“My posters would get taken down on public boards. I never actually discovered who it was, but I get the feeling it was The Devil’s Gap sabotaging me,” said Suchowersky. “I assume they thought they had competition or I was trying to steal what they were doing.

“In the early days, I honestly thought people were trying to stop me from doing what I was doing. I was putting up posters in the same spot three or four times.”

He said nowadays, it’s not the same and his posters are mostly left alone.

Although he never found out who was doing it, Suchowersky pressed forward with his passion to bring live music to stages. At times though, it was a challenging hobby, especially financially. On some shows, the promoter lost money out of his own pocket because of poor crowd numbers. 

He said there were times he nearly quit because BIC was at a standstill.

“Friends and family influenced and helped me move forward when I was floundering and thinking of giving up,” said Suchowersky. “I put the pulse into it, I put the spark on it, but I didn’t make it grow on its own. It was the help of other people.”

BIC’s biggest moment came in summer 2019 when the first Alternative Metal and Punk Music Festival occurred at artsPlace in Canmore. Featuring 12 bands, Suchowersky said “AMP Fest” was the most successful show he’s ever promoted.

“I remember the social media response was huge to that,” he said. “Just the idea of that for a festival in Canmore completely blew up.”

Through success and failure, Suchowersky has been the backbone of the local alternative scene.

Promoter, but also a die hard fan, there might be a day where Suchowersky steps away from promoting. However, that day, isn't anytime soon.

"I’ve done shows that have packed the house and I've done shows where we have had 15 there. It's all worth it," said Suchowersky. "It's something I will keep doing as long as I'm passionate about it, whether people support it or not."

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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