Grimposium: The Resurrection

Decibel friend Vivek Venkatesh is the curator of Grimposium, a conference that aims to get at the heart of what makes extreme metal special. We’re handing the blog over to him today to discuss his plans for the event next month, which will feature an appearance from our esteemed editor.

Like most – if not all – of you reading the Deciblog, I engage in self-loathing as a metalhead. You won’t admit agonizing over the t-shirt you wish you did not wear at that concert you went to last night because you saw six other posers wear the same t-shirt. You certainly won’t admit to not being able to stand the communal nature of metal fans and their willingness to conform to a stereotype of a subculture.

This deep regret and misgiving for the apologist I have become and the community of apologists I belong to is at the heart of Grimposium – a festival I created as part of my academic research on metal music. Grimposium is my ode to individuality in metal. It is based in an ethos that favors a blurring of the boundaries between fans and musicians, that showcases visual artists as separate from the art they create, and that seeks to inject literary approaches with musical improvisations. Grimposium is an extension of my disregard for both academia and the banality of crowds gathered to watch my favorite band.

Last year’s Grimposium was funded almost entirely by Concordia University, where I am an associate professor in the Department of Education specializing in interdisciplinary work across popular culture, social media and civic education. What started as a gathering of academics, musicians, writers, filmmakers and visual artists has become a public pedagogical exercise. We gather to push each other’s buttons, to debate the vagaries of metal fandom and, hopefully, better understand the need to help nourish the growth of the individual metal fan in the face of the anonymity that the community brings. Most importantly, Grimposium will co-present Gorguts at Katacombes bar, a Montreal venue with a maximum capacity of around 300 people, on August 6, the day before they play at Parc Jean-Drapeau for more than 20,000 people.

The August 2015 edition of Grimposium in Montreal is taking place in partnership with David Hall, filmmaker and owner of Handshake, Inc., and evenko, one of the world’s top entertainment promoters as a lead-up to their seventh annual Heavy Montreal Festival.

This year’s Grimposium will see Canadian premiere shows from Cardinal Wyrm, a solo baritone ukulele show by guitarist extraordinaire Kevin Hufnagel and the immensely melodic apocalyptic astral metal from Montreal’s own Starlight Ritual. These will be preceded by film screenings by Hall and a listening session of the debut album from death-grind project Asphalt Graves.

There will be panel sessions featuring Decibel editor-in-chief Albert Mudrian and other music writers, as well as musicians like Luc Lemay of Gorguts and Jason Netherton of Misery Index, and record label managers including Dave Sweetapple from Tee Pee records and Kristine Knapskog from Dark Essence and Karisma Records. There will be a film screening on the Puerto Rican metal scene hosted by its producer Nelson Varas-Diaz. I am hosting art exhibitions by Dan Seagrave, Kim Holm, Filip Ivanovic and Becky Cloonan. The partnership with evenko will also yield co-presentations of intimate club shows by Mass Hysteria as well as Between The Buried And Me. In addition, one of Montreal’s premier arthouses, the Phi Centre, will host and produce an interview and book signing with the legendary Marky Ramone.

There really is going to be something for everyone at Grimposium – everyone can feel special, even though you know you can never be as special as each of the 300-odd attendees at the aforementioned Gorguts show.

In November, I will be hosting an evening of Grimposium in Bergen. I will collaborate with Ivar Bjornson from Enslaved to present a special performance of his ambient music project entitled Bardspec. Taking the next iteration of Grimposium to Norway ensures, in my mind, that its reputation remains intact: small, sharp, and focused intensely on local scenes.

I hope some of you are able to make it down to the Grimposium events in Montreal and Bergen. And if I don’t smile at you and I don’t say hello, I’m only being polite and saving you a conversation about why it’s ok to wallow in the inconsequence of it all.

Grimposium in Montreal runs from August 2 to 9, 2015. Connect with the grimness.

Grimposium in Bergen is on November 12, 2015. Details on the flyer below.