Sappyfest, Sackville NB, August 4

Photo: Stephen McGill

BY Matt BobkinPublished Aug 5, 2019

It's easy to get lost amidst WHOOP-Szo's maelstrom of massive riffs, and lead singer Adam Sturgeon's voice often adds to the chaos. But it can cut through when he wants it to, as on early standout "Gerry," singing, "My cousin Gerry was shot by a cop."
It's one of many ways WHOOP-Szo keep their mission of empowering marginalized voices apparent through their atmospheric mix of post-rock, prog and metal.
The London and Guelph-based quintet were down a member, with co-founder Kirsten Kurvink Palm sidelined with a newborn baby at home, but they still were far and away the heaviest band to grace Sappyfest this year, even before enlisting the Big Budi Band's Nick Dourado and Nathan Doucet on saxophone and second drum kit, respectively. Tracks like "Has It Been So Long," "Bmaadiziwin" and a heavy cover of Elevator's "The Animals" found space for plenty of melody in the metallic squall.
There's an underlying gentleness to WHOOP-Szo's instrumental attack, and it keeps them grounded and connected with their communities as they righteously lash out against institutional inequalities, making their voices all the more powerful, literally and figuratively.

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