Arkells visit Whoop Up Days

ON THE STAGE: The StagEX Music Festival runs Aug. 20-24 during this year's Whoop-Up Days at Exhibition Park in Lethbridge. Arkells, one of Canada's hottest rock acts, headlines the festival Aug. 23.

According to Arkells lead singer Max Kerman, the last time the band played a gig in Lethbridge was at The Slice many years ago. This time around, the highly in-demand band headlines the StagEX Music Festival during Whoop-Up Days at Exhibition Park in Lethbridge Aug. 23.

Whoop-Up Days 2019 and the StagEX Music Festival runs Aug. 20-24. This year, don’t miss the StagEX Music Festival featuring Corb Lund, Sam Roberts Band, Walk Off the Earth, Arkells and Lil Jon. The StagEX festival line-up serves to celebrate a historic moment in the 122-year history of the Lethbridge and District Exhibition.

Arkells, who hail from Hamilton, ON are currently on the road in support of their latest album “Rally Cry” — which was released this past fall and includes the hit single “Relentless.” The band came together in 2006, with a moniker adopted from Hamilton’s Arkell Street. The band recently won 2019 Juno Awards for both “Group of the Year” and “Rock Album of the Year."

Kerman said the band mostly plays weekends during the summer, which included four shows over one weekend earlier this month.

“We’re able to kick around during the week and work on songs and take care of our band biz. That’s like the nature of the schedule in the summertime,” Kerman noted earlier this month. One of the shows included a Chicago date with a performance at Lollapalooza — the groundbreaking alternative music festival founded in the early 1990s.

Playing live, Kerman said, is really fun since the band has put out a few records, band members seem to have a good idea how the life cycle of an album will run its course. 

“When you are working on the songs in the studio you’re just sort of imagining how they’re going to feel to play live, at what point people are going to know all the words and what will be the best moments of the set when it comes to the new stuff,” said Kerman.

“We have an amazing time playing the songs. The new ‘Rally Cry’ material really takes up a big part of our setlist every night,” he said, adding it’s so much fun to see people singing along to, not only singles they hear on the radio, but also the rest of the tracks off the albums.

“Our audience kind of wants to dig into every corner of the record, so for that we are really grateful,” he said.

Kerman said the band plays live everywhere these days. On the Canadian tour, the band will be playing some big rooms in the bigger cities and hockey rinks across the country, as well as various-sized festivals and clubs.

“We’ll still do a lot of club shows in Canada and outside of Canada. We just did a great club gig on the hottest day of the summer in London, England a couple of weeks ago. It was probably like 800 people there and it was like a sweaty mess. It was just amazing,” he said.

For us, we will take what we can get, Kerman said. “We try to work as hard as we can and do everything in our power to create the best album, put on the best possible show and offer the greatest kind of rock and roll experience. After that, we just cross our fingers people show up,” he joked.

Kerman explained the band has also been working away in the United States, the UK and especially in Germany.

“It’s always been a brick-by-brick operation, right from the beginning. We’ve always found there’s generally a correlation with the audience and the connection to a city with the amount of times we’ve been there. In Canada, we’ve played a lot of these places a number of times and we built this thing over a decade. There’s other places we’ve only been to three or four times, so it feels a little newer. But, it’s all exciting,” he said.

There are also some great artists in Canada, which include StagEX openers The Dirty Nil and Dear Rouge — which Kerman is glad to see. “It’s not an easy industry, but I’m so grateful there are some committed artists out there.”

At this time and moving forward into the fall, Arkells will be on the road with some American dates and some more Canadian headlining dates. "We’re kind of hitting some of the markets we didn’t get to on the first run,” he said. “Making sure we get to every spot we missed on the first leg.”

Kerman also said the band hasn’t been to Lethbridge since the early 2000s. “We’re stoked to be back. Alberta has been really good to us,” he said.

Don’t miss the top-notch entertainment at this year’s Whoop-Up Days. StagEX headliner shows begin at 9:30 p.m. For more information about the shows and to purchase tickets visit online at exhibitionpark.ca.

Aug. 20 features Corb Lund, Aaron Goodvin and Alee. Aug. 21 features Sam Roberts Band, Nuela Charles and Mariel Buckley. Aug. 22 features Walk Off the Earth, Scenic Route to Alaska and the Julian Taylor Band. Aug. 23 features Arkells, Dear Rouge and The Dirty Nil. Aug. 24 features Lil Jon, Notorious YEG and Harman B.

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