Calgary Beer Core celebrates 13 years of raising up the local underground music scene

Out of the tweens and into their teens — this weekend the Calgary Beer Core celebrates 13 years of making the city that much noisier, that much better.

And the local music promoters and loose-knit community of underground bands and artists — mainly punk and metal — that make up the CBC are hitting lucky 13 on a high.

“We’re still thriving, still doing our shows,” says Mark Russell, one of the founders. “Last year we did close to 40 shows throughout the year and this year I think we’re already at the 40 mark.

“We’ve been going pretty steady, which is good.”

They’ll be going steady all weekend long, with a trio of special anniversary nights at Distortion with jam-packed bills of acts they’ve worked with in the past or are still helping find an audience.

On Thursday Vancouver vets The Golers, Glare, Chaos Being and others will take the stage, while Friday night sees the CD release of local thrash act Hazzerd, as well as sets by Concrete Funeral, Train Bigger Monkeys and Osyron.

And, saving the best for last, on Saturday night they’re bringing Tartar Control from Los Angeles, to fill out a lineup that also includes Sick Ritual, Rebuild Repair, Truck and Russell’s own band Citizen Rage, who will also be releasing their new four-song Pink EP — a ferocious face-stomp of an offering.

“Calgary underground punk hardcore is going to be shining that night,” Russell says.

And, again, it will be doing so at the “community centre,” that the CBC helped build and keeps populating with talent, Distortion.

While they do put on shows elsewhere — they have an upcoming one later this month at Nite Owl — over its 13 years, the group has made its headquarters The Distillery at first, then its ensuing incarnation The D, and now, for the past two years, at the new club on Macleod Trail.

“We kind of grew up together,” says Russell, who’s an owner in the venue. “We’re like twin brothers or twin sisters … It’s the crew.”

As for fans of the shows that the CBC has put on over the years, they, too, have grown up alongside the crew.

In fact, as Russell notes, in 13 years a lot can happen, and some of those who were moshing or getting messy in those early days now have kids of age, and they’re passing it along to that whole new generation of lovers of the loud.

“They are. People’s children are 18 or 19 years old now and their first shows they want to go to are Calgary Beer Core and/or Distortion shows,” he says.

“And so their parents are like, ‘This is how it goes, this is how the scene is, you’re coming …’ and they throw them in the pit.”

And, knock wood, the Calgary Beer Core will be here passing it along for even more generations to come.

As the tagline for their celebrations defiantly say: We’re not just getting older, we’re getting even more kick ass.

“We’ve made it this far,” Russell says with a laugh. “We’re going to keep going, I think.”

Calgary Beer Core’s 13th anniversary celebrations take place Thursday through Saturday at Distortion. For complete lineups and more information please click here

Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at