Shifty Bits Circus: The method behind the madness

By Penelope Stevens

13.5 months ago, my band (Motherhood) put on a little shindig at Gallery Connexion, known to some as the Shifty Bits Circus.

While we originally intended the Circus to serve as a meeting point and party time for our closest friends, it quickly expanded into something way crazier and better. It grew into a 2.5 day party with 25 bands from across the country, art from young and old, and big bunches of shiftiness which is the fuel that is still propelling us forward.

The Circus plugged a hole in the local music and arts scene and created a sense of “oh yeah, Fredericton actually doesn’t suck, it rules.”

So we decided to do it again, but better.

We started a Cult, adding to our team The Waking Night, Kurtis Eugene and Maiden Names. We figured out how to get a little money and stuff from people (thank-you!). We got to know cool new bands and booked them. We got only slightly more professional and lucky for you, person reading this, you have the chance to not miss out on this year’s edition, A Shifty Bits Circus 2: The Bits is Back.


It’s at the Capital Complex next weekend (July 25th-28th) and you’re cordially invited. You can even bring friends if you’d like!

Thanks to PBR’s ultra-cool sponsorship, there is going to be cheap beer all weekend. Even if you’re too hip to listen to local music, the PBR should be incentive enough to come out. Sit out on the patio, drink your PBR and pretend you’re not having fun if you want.

To make it even better, we’ve been lucky enough to team up with Eric Hill from Backstreet Records to celebrate the 25th birthday of Backstreet! So this year, there will be free all-ages shows going on at Backstreet all Friday and Saturday afternoon and a big BBQ art/music/DJ/wicked party on the Capital deck on Saturday later-afternoon.

On Thursday night, I’m thrilled to say that we’re finally having a Locals Cover Locals Lottery. This means that Fredericton bands will be choosing other Fredericton bands’ music to play for our avid ears. There might also be a surprise reunion performance from an ex-band of Fredericton (who knows?)

Do you remember Mathieu Arsenault, the Fixed Cog Hero from Moncton? He helped us bike-deliver invitations last year, and this year he’ll be showing several of his short-films on Saturday night. Sick.

Last year’s road hockey got rained out, so we’re going to see what we can do about making that happen this year.

Really, there’s so much that I could say about how awesome this year’s Circus will be, but I won’t bore you.

Here are some bands that I’m very excited to welcome to the Shifty Bits Circus 2:

1. Aunty Panty. All you feminists, get your butt to the Capital on Saturday night to see this true punk-rock female duo. They not only make really cool music, they are furthering the feminist and queer rights movements. And they’re not heavy and serious and horrible like a lot of feminists I know. Here’s a live video of them being weird and cool.

2. The Belle Comedians. Local favourite, not without good reason! They were busy getting famous last year, so we’re very pleased that they’re able to make it to the Circus this year. These men could put Fredericton on the map, so don’t you want to be able to say “I was into the Belles before they were cool”? You might be too late on that, but here’s a video of them at the Company House in Halifax. Note Scott’s trim doo.

3. Construction & Destruction. Hailing from Port Greville, NS, this creepy duo will make you feel every kind of weird inside, but you’ll be smiling all the while. They cut rhythms apart and put them back together wrong but it’s right. We were fortunate to have them join us for Motherhood’s album release in June, and I think I could jump over the moon because they agreed to come back to us again. Here’s a video to watch.

4. Year of Glad. Alexandre Bergeron really nails it, not only as a person but also as a musician and a performing artist. Residing in Montreal, he decided to make the trek back to NB this year to grace us with his presence. PLUS he’s made his music into a 4-piece performance piece. Watch this beautiful video of him performing solo (the blood on his guitar is from last year’s Circus, I believe):

If any of this interests you, you really ought to buy an advance ticket for only $20. It’s 4 days of music and 30+ bands, so you would be crazy not to dig that. All advance-ticket money goes directly from your pocket into our hands into the pockets of the bands who are playing. No frills. Your $20 could buy a 3-piece broke-ass band some Little Caesar’s pizza.

Finally, I leave you with THIS.

Click HERE for online tickets. Also, available in person at Backstreet Records and ReNeu Boutique downtown. 

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