If there’s any indicator of passion, driving 16 hours to play one set is as clear a sign as any. Windsor punk band, Shared Arms, is home after doing just that this past Hallowe’en weekend where they performed at Gainesville, Florida’s The Fest.
The three-day festival hosts 200 bands from all over the map and takes place annually during the weekend of the Florida-Georgia game. The Gainesville streets are littered with kids clad in beat up Vans looking to have a good time and in the midst of this years’ 200 bands, Windsor was represented. Music festivals, like The Fest, offer a stage for up-and-coming bands to play their music to new ears and broaden their audience. Shared Arms says touring is paramount in gaining exposure. But, the gig doesn’t pay, so getting an entire band from Windsor to Florida was as much a fiscal journey as it was one of distance.
To raise some funds for their trip, the band played a show in their friend’s basement. Accompanying Shared Arms were Windsor bands Hellraiser and The Nevidovs. If you weren’t at this show, you aren’t punk. Plaid shirts, black skinny jeans and not a thread of shoulder room -it was packed, from the stairwell to the washer and dryer. But you’d dare not stand still – not that the music would let you – as heads nodded and arms swung as if possessed by the riffs and rhythms. This basement should be called the joy division because endorphins were clearly in motion. Led by Jesse Fellows and Joey Acott, Shared Arms rocked and you could hear it from the basement and out through the chimney. Not only did it sound punk, it smelt punk too. The show should’ve been sponsored by Right Guard, or not actually, it was quite killer.
Acott, who plays bass and basically manages the band says playing at venues can be expensive and performing in a basement makes for a more crowd-involved show.
“The crowd interaction is way better, in my opinion, everyones crawling all over you and sweating and screaming in your face, it’s amazing. I like people singing with us and battling over the mic, it’s wild,” says Acott.
That said, the band’s excitement to play at The Fest went beyond touring to gain exposure. Crediting Windsor and Windsor bands like Sewing with Nancie and Orphan Choir for having a direct influence on their music, Shared Arms say they would sound and represent something completely different if it weren’t for the pivotal role our town has played in their development. And from the middle of a mosh pit its obvious that Windsorites reciprocate this sentiment -with raised hands and stomping feet. Homegrown and proud, Arms hope that when they plugged in their amps and thrashed on their symbols they brought attention not only to them as a band, but also to what Windsor has to offer.
“Playing the Fest is amazing. It’s a great feeling to be included in such a huge festival and be able to represent Canada and Windsor. The biggest punk bands coming out of Ontario right now are located in Toronto and it’s surrounding area, so for us to be included in this huge event and represent Windsor, is huge. Windsor has some great bands and it’s music scene needs to be noticed a lot more,” says Acott.
No strangers to putting in work, Shared Arms toured the country and America for two months this past summer and Acott describes that as a sort of resume-building experience. He says without it, they may not have been accepted through the application process required to play The Fest. He says hard work feels great and that their Fest experience lived up to its expectations.
“We played to a jam-packed room of faces that have probably never heard of us before. Some of the faces were people we had met on tour this summer and came out to see us again, which was amazing. There were so many people from everywhere in the world, we sold a CD to a dude from England. I don’t think it gets any cooler than that. I hope we get to play again next year because its seriously the best time in the world. Seeing thousands of people stoked on the same things as you, in the same place as you, is incredible. It’s like punk-rock Christmas.”
Up next for the band is the November 19 show at The Blind Dog where they’ll be playing alongside Cancer Bats and Vicious Cycle. Shared Arms is keeping busy and not for nothing, if performing in basements is any sign, they’re working from a rock-hard foundation.