Capital Complex celebrates 20th anniversary at Harvest

(Johnny James/AQ)

If you frequent the Fredericton music scene, it’s almost guaranteed you’ve been to The Capital Complex. The venue celebrated its 20th anniversary of manufacturing the bulk of the city’s musical memories on Sept. 14.

“It’s like your living room, really intimate and everybody’s friends,” said Jarrett Fraser, former bartender of the venue.

In the heart of downtown, The Capital houses three different venues which intertwine to form the physical embodiment of the city’s music scene. It’s where local artists experienced their first live show and opened the eyes of bands from outside the city to a hidden gem on their tour schedule.

The band Motherhood had guests Jerry-Faye Flatt and Dan Tweedie on stage to help fill out their whole album, Diamonds and Gold. (Johnny James/AQ)

“[Touring bands] used to pass us … there wasn’t really a place to stop in Fredericton and we helped make this a go-to place,” said the venue’s booking agent, Zach Atkinson.

The Capital has hosted some of Canada’s biggest bands from The Arkells to Joel Plaskett, but it’s more about the local roots.

Welcoming new, obscure and diverse acts since 1998, The Capital also served as a training ground for bands to figure out their sound, even if they weren’t ready for the stage. Many of these acts are now local heroes, touring outside the country and making a name for themselves on a larger scale. Some performers came full circle at this year’s Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, where The Capital was honoured with a show in the Barracks Tent.

“Motherhood and Grand Theft Bus basically started their music careers here … and when [Elliott Brood] were just getting going, they were touring a lot and they were through here at least twice a year for a few years,” said Atkinson.

Dennis Goodwin is one of the band members from Grand Theft Bus. (Johnny James/AQ)

Kicking off the anniversary concert was Motherhood, who played their entire debut album Diamonds and Gold front to back along with a few new releases. They were accompanied by STU’s Jerry-Faye Flatt and the album’s producer, Dan Tweedie, who provided additional instrumentals and vocals. The band’s sound is vastly different now than what was captured on their debut album, however, they built a strong bridge between them and effortlessly blended the two together. The bands performance was filled with positive energy, a playful nature and they seemed to enjoy getting lost in the nostalgia as much as the audience did.

Following them was Elliott Brood, who had the entire crowd pulling out their best dance moves and jigs to the endless wave of country, folk and rock. The band’s sound was stoic with a collection of songs that brought the crowd to life, singing and clapping until their hands hurt.

Capping off the night was Grand Theft Bus, who started off as more of a jam band in their early days playing at The Capital. Now they are synonymous with the venue and appropriately brought the house down with their brand of psychedelic rock that was all too familiar to its patrons.