Supercrawl James Street North

Even though we have only experienced a few James Street North Art Crawls, it was time to amp it up and take on Supercrawl! This was the 3rd annual Supercrawl – an event full of music, art, food, shops, you name it. The event was expected to draw 40,000* people throughout the day, and with the Locke Street Festival and the rooftop concert at Jackson Square for Country Music Week’s Fan Fest also happening simultaneously, Saturday, September 10th, 2011 was the day to experience Hamilton to its fullest. I spent a total of ten hours at Supercrawl and didn’t even make it to the other events. Needless to say, I was beat by day’s end! Fittingly, this will be a super-sized blog entry.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and I set out with Honourary Tour Member, Stacey, to meet Avishka at the main stage. Stacey and I first walked the length of the street, which was closed from York to Barton, to take everything in. The street was lined with tents of various vendors and food trucks, and was already bustling with people walking about. Many intricate art pieces were also scattered along the street. One of the more impressive pieces was located on top of Mixed Media’s building – two puffy, inflatable human figures by artist Max Streicher^. There were three stages set up at York, Colborne, and Barton, and with so many amazing live acts playing throughout the day, we had a lot to see.

Meeting up with Avishka, our first stop was to check out the main stage at James and York which was hosted by Roz Allen and my new friend and co-founder of Kitestring, Chris Farias, who I had just met two days before when I made a tour stop of the agency. The two were a terrific pair, bouncing off each other and entertaining the audience in between the live acts. They played games with the crowd and had a ton of free swag to give away, including some gift cards to James North’s own MEX-I-CAN (we managed to snag some!), which was one of our very first tour stops. As Avishka and I would say, it was a full circle moment. Another new friend of ours, Sergeant Jay Turner, joined Roz and Chris onstage at one point. We got to meet Jay afterwards and it was great to meet one of our Twitter friends in person and share our mutual love for the City.

Roz, Jay, and Chris on the main stage

On to the music – we planned to catch sets by Dinosaur Bones and Young Rival, who played back-to-back. Dinosaur Bones are a Toronto-based band who I had seen play before at Casbah, about two years ago. I picked up a free CD of theirs back at that show and it’s great to see how far they’ve come since then, having garnered more attention, and the crowd at Supercrawl loved them.

Next up was Hamilton’s own Young Rival. Being a local band, I don’t know how I haven’t been more familiar with them! However, no time like the present, and Avishka, Stacey, and I became instant fans. We loved their sound and were bobbing along to their songs the whole time. The bassist, John Smith, having heard of us Tour Girls, spotted us from the stage. Making Young Rival’s Supercrawl set even more exciting, it was the first day of filming for their latest project – a documentary that is to be made of their upcoming tour. In another moment of happenstance, one of the directors of the film is a friend of mine, co-founder of Last Frame Pictures, Brendan McCarney. Along with co-founder Mike Gillespie, they have already filmed a tour doc of Meligrove Band and directed a music video for Ruby Coast. They are hitting the road with Young Rival and will film the band in unusual locations along the way, which is sure to make for a unique documentary. Brendan was up onstage filming during their set and got a few shots of the crowd – if that footage makes it in, maybe you’ll be able to spot Avishka and I in our bright tour shirts. We were, after all, front and center. After their set, Brendan introduced us to drummer Noah Fralick, who had also heard of our Tour. It was awesome to chat with him about what we’ve been doing and hear his enthusiasm and appreciation for Hamilton as well. We wish Young Rival all the best on their tour and can’t wait to catch them again when they’re back home!

Young Rival

Since it was such a gorgeous day and it won’t be long before the cooler weather creeps in, we spent the majority of the day outside, unlike previous Art Crawls where we’ve ducked in and out of many shops and galleries. There was so much to see and plenty of photo opportunities to take advantage of. Stacey was our official photographer for the day, snapping away whenever Avishka and I felt the urge to pose with some artwork. We even got to make a little art of our own – there was a section of the street dedicated to chalk art. Being encouraged to participate, we couldn’t resist grabbing some pink and white chalk and making our mark on the streets of James North.

In our travels we ran into our friend Jamie, another Honourary Tour Member. We planned to make our way over to Blue Angel Gallery to catch Xo.Ex.Oh’s play a set outside. Quite the crowd formed as Danielle and Kenda began to sing and the audience was very receptive, clearly enjoying their music. An eccentric audience member who decided to bust a move right in front of them made for a very entertaining start to their set. You just had to be there – those moves simply cannot be described. Avishka and I spotted a photographer from The Hamilton Spectator, Kaz Novak, who was there capturing all of the action. Kaz took our photo when we were featured in The Spec back in July, so we were pleased to see him and say hello. After their set, the girls scurried off to get ready for a fashion show they were to partake in a little while later. In the meantime, Avishka, Stacey, Jamie, and I wandered off again to explore some more.

Xo.Ex.Oh’s playing outside Blue Angel Gallery

We learned via Twitter that Jamie (Gunner) Smith, was broadcasting live from Supercrawl, along with McMaster’s CFMU program director, Jamie Tennant. Avishka, Jenny, and I
did an interview at INDI 101 in August but had not met Gunner, so it was the perfect chance to stop in and introduce ourselves. Not long after we stepped into His Glory Disco, where the broadcast was taking place, Gunner offered to have us do a quick interview on the radio. With barely enough time to think, a microphone was in my hand and I was talking about our Tour live on the air! With Avishka right with me for support, I had a lot of fun chatting with the two Jamie’s about what we’ve discovered about our city. I think I’m getting the hang of this radio business. Gunner and Tennant are also involved with Hamilton’s annual C+C Music Festival, which coincided with Supercrawl. A 2-disc compilation is available to accompany it, which includes some of the best music in the city. The CDs were made available and we were quick to scoop up copies. You can download the full album for free here.

Chatting with Gunner live on the radio

From there we headed back over to the street outside Blue Angel Gallery where, I have yet to mention, was a stunning work of art. Painted onto the street with incredible precision by the Bomb Squad Art Crew was a replica of the famous “Birth of Venus”~. This artwork doubled as a catwalk for Green Dress Designs’ fashion show. The designer, Valerie Cousens, creates clothing described as “waste couture,” by “re-designing what you already have” and taking custom orders. The models, including Danielle and Kenda of Xo.Ex.Oh’s, strutted their stuff in the unique one-of-a-kind pieces. A huge crowd surrounded the show, all vying to get a glimpse of the fashion and art. The show concluded with a finale of the models walking out holding artwork created by Valerie, herself.

Green Dress Designs fashion show on the Bomb Squad Art Crew’s street creation

By now it was getting to be later in the evening and Avishka, Stacey, and Jamie had to call it a day. I wasn’t quite finished with my Supercrawling, so I set off in search of friends and found, who else, Max Wray. You knew that was coming! Picking up more friends along the way, we geared up for the night’s pièce de résistance, a performance by Broken Social Scene. Amidst an incredible sea of people, we managed to find a spot fairly close to the stage with the best view we could hope to have. The crowd patiently awaited the band, who were a tad late, but made up for it by beginning their set by stating they would just keep playing indefinitely, guaranteeing their fans a full set. They sounded amazing and, being such a huge ensemble, they are a unique concert experience and definitely one of Canada’s finest.

We rounded out the night by relaxing at This Ain’t Hollywood where a showcase was taking place in conjunction with C + C Music Festival. Alas, I didn’t stay for too much longer, since my energy came to a grinding halt and it was time for me to hit the hay, as they say.

It was most definitely a Super Saturday and I’m so glad Avishka and I could experience our first Supercrawl together and log it as an official Tour stop. We love the James North area, and this is just another example why. Moreover, it is yet another example of why we love this city.

– Kristin

* Graham Rockingham, The Hamilton Spectator
^ Otino Corsano, Akimbo
~ Graham Rockingham, The Hamilton Spectator

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (, where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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