Marketing teamster Alex Topolewski has been a grassroots force on the SLUG marketing team since 2014. Topolewski was enthralled by her second marketing event, SLUG Games, and cites it as one of her standout favorites each year because of the event’s energy and the people it pulls together—a dynamic that’s kept her on the team ever since. She also enjoys being able to represent the magazine at non-SLUG events she otherwise may not have attended. Topolewski steps in to help on the team to lend a helping hand whenever there’s the need to spread the word about SLUG, and she applies the necessary elbow grease for a job well done each time. She’s witnessed the growth of SLUG events such as Brewstillery (Nov. 17)—a new favorite—from year to year as a leader on the team. Topolweski values SLUG’s accessible mosaic of local voices, and we love all that she does as a part of it all!
We all have friends—mostly on Facebook, the whiniest of all social-media platforms—who have been threatening to “move to Canada!” for almost two years now. They haven’t, they won’t, and they’re certainly not going to shut up aboot it.
Too bad, because Canada has far more to offer than brutal hockey, legal weed and free healthcare: they also have some damned fine TV in the Great White North. Some of it can even be viewed down here in the Formerly Great and Still Mostly White South—in fact, you may already be watching some Canuck shows and not be aware of it. The moose’s nose in the tent, eh.
Crack a Molson and stream these eight Canadian TV series while you’re filling out your passport application!
Letterkenny (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)
Neckless redneck Wayne (series creator Jared Keeso), his buds and cavalcade of characters fight, drink and generally laze about in Canada hick town Letterkenny, trading verbally dense rants and takedowns with the hyper-speed virtuosity of an Eddie Van Halen solo (or, to keep it Canadian, Alex Lifeson). Letterkenny is like a flannel-shirted meld of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and a live-action South Park, but also wholly original and a decidedly love-it-or-hate-it donnybrook.
Trailer Park Boys (Seasons 1–12 on Netflix)
Speaking of hating it, I couldn’t stand Trailer Park Boys at first and nearly avoided Letterkenny due to comparisons. Now … well, I’m not completely sold, but the long-running series does have its charms. The mockumentary about a group of Nova Scotia trailer-park fuckups and their perpetually doomed moneymaking schemes strikes a consistent balance of hilarity and cringe, but, should you find yourself relating to any of these characters, discontinue watching immediately.
Schitt’s Creek (Seasons 1–3 on Netflix)
Attention: Schitt’s Creek is not a Netflix original, nor is it even ’Merican. Like Arrested Development à la Canada, Schitt’s Creek pits dumb ex-wealthy folk against small-town rubes for ridiculously funny results: Broke Johnnie and Moira Rose (SCTV comedy treasures Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, respectively) are forced to live in a hotel in the dump town of Schitt’s Creek, which they once purchased as a joke. More so than Arrested D, Schitt’s Creek is also a stealth heart-warmer.
Orphan Black (Seasons 1–5 on Amazon)
Attention: Cult sci-fi series Orphan Black isn’t British—it’s another Canadian production. A small-time criminal (Tatiana Maslany) assumes the identity of a dead police detective she eerily resembles, only to learn she’s a clone and that there are more cloned versions of herself out there. Then it gets crazy. Orphan Black plays outside of its genre as an engrossing, personal drama, and Maslany’s performance—multiple distinct performances, to be exact—is stunning.
Mary Kills People (Seasons 1–2 on Hulu)
Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas has starred in U.S. series like Wonderfalls and Hannibal, but Mary Kills People is the first to fully realize her oddly chilly-sexy potential. Dr. Mary Harris (Dhavernas) kills people—specifically, those who are terminally ill and want to go out on their own terms. Her secret Angel of Death gig spills over into her life, echoing dark-side classics like Weeds and Dexter. Dhavernas’ complex Mary is a near equal to Nancy Botwin and Dexter Morgan.
Due South (Seasons 1–4 on Amazon)
The setup for 1994–99 crime dramedy Due South was weird, even in the decade that spawned Cop Rock. Canadian Mountie Benton Fraser (Paul Gross) relocates to Chicago with his trusty sidekick Diefenbaker (a deaf wolf-dog hybrid) to find his father’s murderer, and solves cases-of-the-week with a local detective. Gross’ cartoonish good-guy routine delivers the laughs, but Due South also had a dark underbelly in line with grittier-era cop dramas like Wiseguy—and it still holds up.
The Kids in the Hall (Seasons 1–5 on Amazon)
Along with American series Mr. Show with Bob & David, Canada’s The Kids in the Hall defined subversive sketch comedy in the late ’80s and early ’90s, leaning heavier in the surreal, cross-dressing direction of Monty Python. KITH featured five equally-brilliant improvisers, all of whom still show up regularly in movies and TV today, including Scott Thompson—a rare, openly gay comic at the time, who owned it to full effect. See also: The Kids’ 1996 cult-classic flick, Brain Candy.
SCTV (Seasons 1–6 on Amazon)
An offshoot of Toronto’s Second City sketch-comedy troupe, SCTV was a quiet contemporary of the original (read: dangerous) Saturday Night Live. It launched in 1976 in Canadian and U.S. TV syndication. SCTV was on fire in the early ’80s as SNL was flaming out, making stars of John Candy, Martin Short, Andrea Martin and the aforementioned Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, eventually creating 135 episodes of all-killer/little-filler comedy anarchy. See also: 1986 uber-Canadian SCTV spin-off movie Strange Brew—the Citizen Kane of beer-and-donuts conspiracy thrillers.
Sorry to Bother You
Director: Boots Riley
In theaters: 07.13
Boots Riley’s directorial debut is a thumping and electrifying ride through the alternate present. Set in Oakland, Sorry to Bother You follows its somewhat passive, somewhat striving protagonist, Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield), who lives in his uncle’s (Terry Crews) garage and spends most of his time with his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), a blazing artist-activist. While Detroit is off twirling street signs at her day job, donning homemade earrings (one set reads, “murder murder murder / kill kill kill”) or conceptualizing some anti-colonialist art, Cassius is four months behind on rent, so he lands a commissions-only telemarketing job at RegalView. There, he’s repeatedly reminded to “stick to the script,” starting each sales call, to no avail, with “Sorry to bother you.” But things change when Cassius’ coworker Langston (Danny Glover) teaches him how to use his white voice—the kind of “carefree” voice he’d use when he’s “stopped by a cop,” when he’s “got [his] bills paid” (aka, at least here, David Cross’ voice).
Meanwhile, RegalView’s employees have swiftly organized (led by Squeeze, played by Steven Yeun) and are staging phone strikes and massive picketing protests. Nearby, the Left Eye activists have turned their gaze onto WorryFree, a company that—disguised with the promise of lifetime employment in exchange for food and shelter—essentially produces and sells indentured labor to corporations. (It’s run by a maniacal cokehead-CEO bro, Steve Lift, played by Armie Hammer.) While Cassius is sympathetic to the union efforts and disturbed by news of WorryFree, he finds his telemarketing gig propelling him to new vistas. The money flows in, Cassius finally feels like he’s found direction in his life, and he gets closer to attaining that mysterious but coveted Power Caller status.
When Cassius finally ascends, worlds vividly converge, and the magic realism of Sorry to Bother You’s absurdist, political satire takes a disturbing turn toward dystopic (almost apocalyptic) sci-fi. Things get shocking, but Sorry to Bother You maintains its sense of rhythm and panorama. The film is unforgettably visualized, soundtracked and performed. Buoyed by its people-power, anti-capitalist, revolution-minded readiness to jolt us awake, Riley’s filmic storytelling debut stays daring and endlessly inventive. –Kathy Rong Zhou
Director: Bo Burnham
In theaters: 08.03
Like eighth grade, Bo Burnham’s feature-film debut will have you wincing in secondhand (and firsthand) embarrassment and laughing through heart-pangs. The camera is trained on Kayla (the spectacular Elsie Fisher), a 13-year-old girl who lives in suburbia with her single dad (played so, so sweetly by Josh Hamilton). With earbuds in, Kayla spends all her time entrenched in her phone and laptop screens, tapping through Snapchat selfies, following along to makeup tutorials and scrolling through her crush’s Instagram feed. Each day, she uploads a video to her YouTube channel (“Hey guys! It’s Kayla”), in which she offers advice about various topics, like how to be yourself. (She signs off every video with a “Gucci!”)
Kayla does attempt to take her own advice, gawkily and misguidedly bumbling through her erratic cracks at flirting or friendship—at bravery. But it’s still eighth grade: These are anxious times, and the year has been more or less a disaster. She doesn’t have any friends, and she was voted Most Quiet in her class. So, Kayla keeps her shoulders hunched, eyes to the floor, waiting for someone to discover the “real” her.
As much as Eighth Grade soaks us in the all-encompassing awkwardness and weirdness of being 13, Burnham’s confident direction and writing are keen and ever empathetic. Kayla quells her intense nerves while attending the surly cool-girl Kennedy’s pool party and grimaces, near tears, when Kennedy scoffs at Kayla’s gift. She gets bored by her school drill’s blasé yet somewhat graphic enactment of a school shooting (one of Burnham’s many poignant reminders of 21st-century realities), and seeks advice via questionable Google searches. She spends time with new people (and Eighth Grade has assembled an excellent supporting cast): Kennedy’s perhaps strange yet earnest cousin Gabe (Jake Ryan), the incredibly welcoming high schooler Olivia (Emily Robinson) and Olivia’s friend Riley (Daniel Zolghadri), an older boy with whom Kayla’s encounter starts out as cringeworthy and ends as deeply unnerving.
Throughout, Burnham, along with the revelatory Fisher and Hamilton, offers us things that might have felt out of reach, or even irrelevant, in eighth grade: patience and compassion, a reminder of kindness as goodness, the sense that what we felt and feel are OK and that we’re not alone in it. Hilarious and heartfelt, joyful and generous, Eighth Grade is an unbelievably tender and true snapshot of what it means to grow up. –Kathy Rong Zhou
Festivals are strange entities with their own distinct personalities. In early July, I spent 12 hours standing in Hyde Park under an uncommonly hot sun to watch six bands. Friday night, I saw six bands in less than four hours at the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. The sun was still uncommonly hot. At least this time I’ve been allowed an umbrella and a small stretch of grass to sit.
At both shows the opening acts played for a similar amount of time. The major difference in format was that Friday’s Retro Futura traveling new wave festival was able to blow through the first three acts without having a stage changeover. Annabella Lwin, Limhal and Tony Lewis used the same backing band with only the slightest of lineup variation.
It’s an unusual but economical setup that allows artists who might not be able to book a national tour on their own to visit cities they wouldn’t typically play. In fact, all three of the early acts reference the fact that this is the first time that they’ve played in Salt Lake City. Let that sink in: The lead singers of Bow Wow Wow, Kajagoogoo and The Outfield have never played in Salt Lake City, a place where the longevity of first-wave new wave lasted into the late ’90s.
The evening begins with a five-song set from Annabella Lwin, the former singer for Bow Wow Wow. We’re given the hits “Aphrodisiac,” “Do You Wanna Hold Me?” and “I Want Candy” with a pair of lesser known tracks, “Baby, Oh No!” and “The Man Mountain.”
The audience isn’t nearly as lively as I’d expect. Maybe it’s the heat or the fact that many of them had been standing in a line for numerous hours in hopes of getting a prime spot near the front of the stage.
Next is Limahl, the incredibly fit former singer for Kajagoogoo in a tight sleeveless T-shirt. He struts his way around the stage, pausing only to vogue provocatively.
I like a fair amount of the New Romantic bands, but I never really explored Kajagoogoo’s catalog. I didn’t see the appeal in their singles “Ooh to Be Aah” and “Hang on Now” or “Too Shy.” However, I do absolutely love Limahl’s pairing with Giorgio Moroder on the title track for the film The NeverEnding Story. Limahl played those four songs, plus a track I didn’t recognize.
Of the six bands that would play on Friday, Tony Lewis of The Outfield was the one that I knew little to nothing about. Of the five songs played, I only recognize the closing track “Your Love.” Everything else is passable AOR that would be a better fit at a Journey concert.
Lewis was annoyed by the inattentive crowd and expressed his displeasure at the general lack of energy and the numerous people who can’t seem to take their eyes off of their phones. He’s not wrong—this is the most languid audience that I’ve been a part of.
The first proper changeover comes at the halfway point as Modern English prepare to take the stage.
Like many, my affinity with Modern English revolves around their first two albums, Mesh & Lace and After the Snow, and thankfully their set is culled mostly from those two releases. They do throw in a new track from their latest release, Take Me to the Trees, that fits in nicely with the older material. The set closes with “I Melt With You” and suddenly, the crowd finds its legs and a willingness to sing along.
The first cassette tape that I ever bought all on my own was Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” and while my taste in music has strayed considerably away from mainstream pop, Carlisle was the act I was looking forward to the most.
The only thing remotely disappointing about Carlisle’s performance is that it lasts for only nine songs. The set includes solo material like “Mad About You,” “I Get Weak,” Circle in the Sand” and “Leave a Light On” alongside Go-Go’s hits “Head Over Heels,” “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got the Beat.” She finishes her performance with “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”
The night ends with a greatest-hits set from ABC, which these days is essentially vocalist Martin Fry with a backing band. Fry oozes charisma, offering a commanding performance that is far more engaging that I was expecting. His brand of New Romantic Northern Soul is better live than it is on record. Again, it’s a fairly short set, but it includes everything that I’d hope to hear, like “The Look of Love,” “Be Near Me,” “(How to Be a) Millionaire,” “When Smokey Sings” and “Poison Arrow,” along with a handful of other tracks like “Viva Love” and “All of My Heart.”
Four hours, six bands, a hefty amount of nostalgia and a few welcome surprises.
The Wild Boys (Les garçons sauvages)
Damn These Heels Film Festival
Director: Bertrand Mandico
The Wild Boys is a distinctly odd film, in both style and content. So much so that I’m not sure even now whether or not I like it, though as is often the case with film, liking isn’t necessary as long as it brings something new. Whether you find it enjoyable or uncomfortable, watching this film is a visceral experience, as it focuses on the repulsive, tactile and even outright disgusting elements of violence and sex.
The Wild Boys dives straight into its themes of violence, sexuality and gender performance, with a surreal and graphic scene in which five rich delinquent school boys—Romuald (Pauline Lorillard), Jean-Louis (Vimala Pons), Hubert (Diane Rouxel), Sloane (Mathilde Warnier) and Tanguy (Anaël Snoek)—sexually assault and kill their literature teacher (Nathalie Richard). Following an even more surreal trial scene, the boys are sent with a man referred to as Le Capitaine (Sam Louwyck) who claims he can reform them, making prison time unnecessary. The Captain’s methods prove to be brutal: When he brings them on board his ship, he ties them up by their necks to a contraption that allows him to strangle them should they disobey. They are beaten, left exposed to the elements, their books and other possessions thrown away, and fed only small hairy plums.
At the end of their journey is a strange and dangerous island, full of phallic flora and sexual pleasures—a paradise after their arduous time on the boat. There they meet Le Docteur Séverin(e) (Elina Löwensohn), a naturalist who first discovered the island years ago. Séverin(e) has been working with Le Capitaine for years to use the magical, gender-altering effects of the island to reform delinquent boys, believing that the answer to the extreme violence experienced in the world is feminization. The boys’ pleasure on the island soon turns to alarm as their penises fall off and their breasts grow, leaving them with female bodies, and with those, a new perspective.
Exploration and examination of gender as a performance, and in particular the violence associated with masculinity, is at the core of this film’s philosophy. While at times bordering on lewd, Mandico’s approach to the human body and sexuality is refreshingly frank, void of the romanticism and mystique that often veils sex in cinema. The camera doesn’t shy away from the vulgar, instead glorifying it. From slow-panning shots of semen, blood and dirt flying through the air to the viscous membranes and fluids of the plants on the island, everything is shown in extreme, and often glittery, detail.
The cinematographic approach taken in this film is just as odd and interesting, shifting between gritty black and white and hazy chromatic hallucinatory visions. The visual style is dissonant, even chaotic at times, but somehow, it works. The chaos that erupts on the screen helps to convey the overwhelming feelings and experiences of the boys as the island transforms them. It all works together to create a world and a powerful experience, and while the philosophy may be a little heavy-handed toward the end, the message is clear. –Lois Brady
July 20 // 10:30 p.m. // Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
Damn These Heels Film Festival
Director: Yen Tan
It’s 1985 and Adrian (Cory Michael Smith) has returned home to Texas. It’s Christmas. His mother, father and younger brother still live in this town, and they’re delighted to see him after he’s been away in New York for years. In the kitchen, Adrian is chopping onions—slowly, as though his mind is elsewhere, and suddenly he cuts himself. As he recoils in pain, his mother turns to help him, and he reacts harshly, in deeper pain than we can see. He demands she go get a first aid kit, and in the few moments she is gone, he quickly cleans, scraping not just the bloodied onion into the trash but the knife and the whole cutting board. He scrubs the area around it meticulously. As his mother returns, offering to help, he snatches the first aid away from her. “I’m fine, Mom. I’m not a child.”
1985 is Adrian’s story of moving through his hometown one last time. Having contracted HIV from his now-deceased boyfriend while living in New York, Adrian struggles to reconcile his relationship to his god-fearing family with his knowledge that he is sick, that he will almost certainly die, that in 1985 he is a victim of a virus whose eradication might as well be a million years away. As Adrian goes through the motions of being home again—bonding with his younger brother, helping his mother do groceries and reconnecting with his high school love interest–turned–best-friend—his resolve wears down. What he hoped would be a chance to see his home one last time turns into a reminder of what it feels like to be an outsider, how your own home can feel like a different country.
One of the most relatable motifs of stories like Adrian’s is the sense that as a queer person you are marked, destined for an early exit. You are society’s weeds. Thirty-three years after the first wave of the AIDS epidemic, it’s easy for us, even young queer people, to forget or not realize how social dynamics played into stigmatizing gay men and women who were sick and needing help. In 1985, there is the increasing sense that although the people in Adrian’s life love and appreciate him, they are so distant from the social paradigm required to confront homosexuality that they feel incapable of grappling with seeing Adrian for who he is, and from Adrian’s point of view, you can understand the reluctance to be honest. In 1985, you cannot expect anyone to be on your side. Even when Adrian’s mother reveals she voted democrat this year, citing equal rights as a factor that swayed her, her solidarity feels theoretical. You can’t blame Adrian for increasing his distance.
When there is nothing to be done, nothing to lose, the tendency is to hang on to what feels normal, if only for minutes at a time. It’s a way to cope, to navigate a reality where no one will help you, and God has long abandoned you and the people who could help you have already died. 1985 is the kind of movie where you know what will happen, the cards are on the table, but it’s the marination of each scene that matters. As the film nears its end, Adrian tells his childhood best friend what’s happening, begging her to someday tell his little brother “what actually happened.” To some degree we are a part of that secret, and this story will continue to be an important one to tell for a long time to come. –Parker Mortensen
Sunday, July 22 // 6:15 p.m. // Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
Damn These Heels Film Festival
Director: Bruce LaBruce
The Misandrists is the most frustrating movie I’ve seen in a while. I got whiplash trying to understand whether the film was celebrating women or only pretending to—satirizing with camp or offering an actual worldview. Within the same five minutes I could find something funny, something sweet, something transphobic and something revolutionary. It’s a film that is more cohesive than at first it seems, but still less cohesive than it believes itself to be.
A young man named Volker (Til Schindler) is limping through a field when he sees two girls, Isolde and Hilde (Kita Updike, Olivia Kundisch), frolicking together. When Isolde realizes Volker is a revolutionary and running from the law, she convinces Hilde to help hide him in the basement of their all-girls school where the two girls live. While Volker recovers in the basement, the leader of the school, Big Mother (Susanne Sachße), teaches and raises them as misandrists, having brought most of the girls out of poverty, prostitution or abuse—all at the hands of men and the patriarchy. The school becomes the groundwork for forming the FLA, Female Liberation Army, a radical and violent group born to fight the patriarchy through direct action. The girls learn about history, biology, sex and order, all couched in radical feminist thought and, ironically, drenched in puritanical aesthetics: Teachers dress as nuns, and the girls wear modest school uniforms.
The Misandrists is obsessed with juxtapositions like this, and it’s hard to tell how seriously to take it all. Almost every scene has competing arguments. When we meet Big Mother, the girls and sisters are at dinner, eating modest soup and reciting prayers thanking God that she did not make them men. Big Mother is a campy matriarch but also a legitimately radical feminist, and her ideology (which she often just explicitly states) is, of course, about hating men, but it’s often also trans-exclusionary. During the dinner Big Mother also reveals and discusses how the school is funded through prostitution of the girls, and eventually the school starts producing its own lesbian porn to distribute and sell as a revolutionary act. It’s a lot. It’s constantly asking you to enjoy its absurdity while also celebrating its women. One scene is a cathartic pillow fight lit like a dream, subverting male fantasy through genuine lesbian love, and another scene is Big Mother coercing her girls into having sex with one another (she insists she only persuades them, no coercion).
In theory, a big part of me enjoys this constant interplay between bold, feminist intention and ironic or satirical reality, but I can never follow the deconstruction to its end—women loving women is absolutely revolutionary, but treating trans women like traps and forcibly turning men into women is anything but, and if the film is self-aware about this fact, I couldn’t tell. The overt misandry is almost certainly not to be taken seriously, but the film lingers so long on Isolde’s heterosexuality, Volker’s feminization and literal castration, porn and lesbianism as revolution. Every time I started to have fun with the movie, it went in a direction I thought was ideologically unsound. If the point is to play dress up with bad feminism, I’m not interested.
I want to be emphatic about this: as a queer, non-binary person, I didn’t enjoy this film. I don’t enjoy wading through this muddy water. The kicker, the perhaps most frustrating thing, happens post-credits: the two trans characters Volker and Isolde kiss each other. It’s simple and quick, and ironically the actual most revolutionary act in a movie obsessed with radicalism. At that point, it only felt insulting. –Parker Mortensen
Saturday, July 21 // 11 p.m. // Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
Damn These Heels Film Festival
Director: Sonia Sebastian
What happens when a millennial gets stuck in an unfulfilling office job? She takes it upon herself to create a startup, of course—but not without some twists and turns along the way.
Billie (Lisa Cordileone) is tired of being treated like a cog in the wheel just to pay the rent. Freelancers Anonymous opens with a monologue as a beleaguered, pantsuited Billie sits outside her office building, pondering her situation: “Work hard. Play hard. Push through. Buckle up. But I’m not going up. I’m just going in a circle. Like a hamster. Or a squirrel. I’m a rodent,” she concludes. There’s gotta be something better than this—and Billie’s going to get it, no matter what it takes.
After a cannabis-related mishap leads Billie to quit in dramatic fashion, girl has got to figure out a plan. After all, she has a wedding to pay for. So Billie hauls herself to her local Freelancers Anonymous group, a ragtag band of similarly jobless and job-searching ladies—plus Joel. (Every group needs a Joel, right?) Although she doesn’t exactly get off on the right foot with her fellow freelancers, Billie has a lightbulb moment that brings her back to the group the next day with donuts, apologies and an idea to harness the freelancers’ untapped talents—an app that will connect freelancers with businesses who need their services.
Meanwhile, Billie’s jobless state is causing tension in her relationship. Gayle (Natasha Negovanlis), a voice actor and internet cabernet wine reviewer, threatens to call off the wedding. “They’re not unemployed, they’re just freelancers,” protests Billie, but when a literal bag of startup money chances its way into Billie’s life by way of Billie’s skeptical teammate, she decides on a new course of action: Use the money to produce paychecks and lie about the startup until it actualizes itself.
Behind Gayle’s back, Billie concocts an elaborate plan to get married and launch her business—all on the same day, in the same place. She just has to figure out how to do two things at the same time. Enter the montage—woman shushing the alarm, flying through city streets via bike, persisting doggedly to meet her business goals—until at last, the big day arrives.
Will Billie be able to resolve the tangled web of lies she’s woven, start a business, find investors, and get married to her one true love? You can probably guess the answer.
Freelancers Anonymous is a lighthearted take on the gig economy. Just take the tagline: “Because your day job sucks ass.” Featuring an LGBTQ leading couple and a diverse cast of characters, the movie attempts to address some of the hot-button topics of the millennial generation. Although the plot mainly skims the surface of the problems that affect today’s workers—and is infused with more than a few deus ex machina resolutions—it’s a quick-paced, amusing way to spend 80 minutes.
Writers Lisa Cordileone, who plays Billie, and Amy Dellagiarino conceived the idea for the movie when they too realized they hated their day jobs. They connected with director Sonia Sebastian to create the film. But Freelancers Anonymous is more than a movie title—it’s also a real, live start-up in progress that aims to offer visibility to women and LGBTQ folk working in STEM industries. Viewers should relish this feel-good film for what it is: a way to support women writers, producers and directors in the film industry, bring visibility to women and LGBTQ actors and freelancers, and get acquainted with the plight of many unemployed and under-employed millennials—that is, if they aren’t already one themselves. –Naomi Clegg
Sunday, July 22 // 4:15 p.m. // Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
On Saturday, June 30, the energy around the final Warped Tour was palpable. There was the usual buzz of excitement with a twinge of the bittersweet. Warped Tour was my coming of age. I moshed to my favorite bands, discovered new music and forged friendships that have lasted to this day. As a final goodbye to this iconic festival, I asked Warped veterans and newcomers their thoughts on Warped Tour ’18:
SLUG: What is your favorite aspect of Warped Tour?
“The camaraderie, the community. People care about each other’s music and support each other any way they can,” says Gregory Mark, solo artist and Warped Tour performer from San Francisco, California.
“Kevin Lyman has created a place for musicians of all styles to come and be able to play,” says Warped Tour stage manager Blest Brando. “Everyone gets to be equal for a day.”
“This is where everyone gets together to listen to music,” says Brenner Steadman from Salem, Utah, who has attended since 2014. “I come from a smaller town, so it’s nice to be around super-cool people where everyone likes similar music.”
“Simple Plan, that’s how I made it through my teenage years,” says Kate Kirchner, who is at her first Warped Tour and first concert. “This is just so new, but it’s been a really good experience so far.”
SLUG: What is your best Warped Tour memory?
“Being on this journey with my bros, being able to travel and express ourselves. Doing this medicine music for the people, [being able to] express our light and shine it on them,” says Artson, hip-hop artist and Warped Tour performer from El Paso, Texas.
“The best time ever was seeing Fall Out Boy in ’08,” says Jesse Hunt, from Hazleton, Idaho. “Sucks that we won’t get to do this anymore. We looked forward to the party at Warped Tour every summer.”
“I went crowd surfing during Neck Deep, and that was my first time,” says Colton Simpson from Logan, about Warped Tour ’17. “I just barely started going, and now I can’t go anymore. I had to come to this one at least.”
SLUG: What brought you out to Warped Tour?
“I haven’t been since I was 17, and it’s the last Warped Tour. Life just got away from me, and I haven’t been going to concerts as much. I needed to start going again,’” says Jared Hansen from Boise, Idaho.
“This is our first time at Warped Tour—we came on a whim. This is the last one; we had to go,” says Cindy Romo of Salt Lake City.
“There were only a handful of bands I wanted to see today,” says Whitney Dickerson of Salt Lake City, who came for State Champs, Waterparks and The Maine, “but it was enough that it was worth it.”
SLUG: How do you feel about Warped Tour coming to an end?
“Part of me doesn’t believe it. Part of me thinks they’re going to bring it back,” says Kiera Anderson from Draper.
“All things must come to an end, but when things die, new things are born,” says Gregory Mark. “So out of this, something bigger and better will come.”
Special thanks to everyone who stopped to chat with me at the last Warped Tour; you’ve made the experience unforgettable. You can find Gregory Mark at gregorymarkmusic.com and Artson at artson.bandcamp.com.
And now, a farewell letter from SLUG Senior Staff Writer James Orme:
A Farewell to Warped Tour
My first time at Warped Tour was one of the best days of my life. Seems like a strange thing to say about a sweltering July day at the Fairgrounds, where I spent a good portion of my time trying not to get hit in the face, but an amazing day anyway. I went with my best friend, Bart, and his older brother, Jay. We got there, and after waiting forever in line to get in, we were drawn to the sounds of the only band playing, Grinspoon. If hearing hardcore punk for the first time wasn’t shocking enough, I found myself on the edge of the first mosh pit I’d ever seen. All of a sudden, I felt a push from behind, and Bart and I were thrown into the middle of the mêlée for the next 30 to 40 seconds. I just did everything I could to stay on my feet. The song ended, the crowd cleared, and I saw Bart with a face full of blood. We’d been inside for all of five minutes, and Bart had his nose broken. He went to the first aid station, and in order for him to stay, he had to have his mom come down and give her approval. After, I remember seeing Anti–Flag for the very first time. At the time, I didn’t know that their lead singer had gotten sick and had to leave the tour, so their bass player took over on vocals—that just always struck me as the most punk rock thing ever, that not only did they kill it that day, but they did it without their main guy. I also saw the Dropkick Murphys for the first time that day, and even though there was some ugliness as far as them fighting with the crowd, I was still so astonished that such a band existed that you could marry two seemingly different genres—Irish folk and punk rock was a new, exciting concept to me. Probably the band that got me there more than any other at the time was Blink-182, and they were fun, but The Vandals—who ended the day—absolutely slayed it for the diehards that stuck around for the finale. I knew what punk rock was before that day, but it was that first Warped Tour that made me call myself a punk rocker.
I would go to the next five years straight of Warped Tours with those same friends, seeing amazing bands, chasing girls and having adolescent adventures. I remember wandering around and just being drawn in by the sounds of One Man Army, a great band whom I might’ve never even heard of, much less seen live if it hadn’t been for Warped Tour. There was the year they tried to include a bunch of hip-hop acts, and while passing by, I watched a few minutes of Eminem and Ice-T. I knew it wasn’t for me, but I remember being impressed by it. Nothing lasts forever, and the end had to come one day, but I don’t if anything will ever be quite like what Warped Tour gave me. Now an old man of 35, I haven’t been to a Warped Tour in quite a while. I began to recognize fewer and fewer bands on the lineup, and my friends and I slowly started to pull away, as that happens when you get older. But those golden memories of loud, fast music in 100-degree heat, packed in with thousands of other weirdos, will always be there for me.
See ya in the pit!