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Up Here 5 so far: A colour force to be reckoned with

Downtown Sudbury celebrates the 5th anniversary of this unique urban art and music festival

Up Here 5 is well under way, bringing its patented blend of mind-bending sound and vibrant colour to Downtown Sudbury.

In fact, the urban music and art festival’s entire lineup this year is subtly, and yet completely, influenced by colour. That’s because the 2019 theme is “colour force.”

What exactly is colour force though? Don’t worry: Even the organizers didn’t know at first.

“It sounds like a weird Star Wars thing, use the colour force, you know?” said Christian Pelletier, festival co-founder. “It’s in fact very complicated. Luckily we have someone who knows about particle physics on our board who explained it to us with lego and books: Colour force is an idea rooted in particle physics that the more things pull apart, the stronger the force to pull them together.”

This force seems to work on many Sudburians who try to leave and come back repeatedly. One theory is that there’s some sort of magnetic force in the local rock (please note: this is not an actual “scientific” theory), but colour force might be another explanation.

Back to the actual science though: Also called “strong interaction,” colour force is one of four fundamental interactions in particle physics, most famous perhaps for its role in nuclear power.

While the word colour is in its name: colour force has little to do with actual colour as we know it. In this context, colour refers to the charge of certain particles called quarks, charges which are categorized as red, green, and blue … for some reason.

It’s all a little confusing, but the two important things to remember are: First, that Richard Feynman—famed American theoretical physicist—called his peers “idiot physicists” for coming up with the name “colour charge”; and second, that for Up Here, it’s more about the concept than the actual science.

“We thought the metaphor was really strong for the things we do,” said Pelletier. “We were looking for a way to represent the symbiosis in our theme, the idea that it’s our fifth year celebration and we’ve worked with so many people. We wanted a theme that reflected thanking these relationships.”

In past years, themes included cosmos, terraformation, micro, and mutations. While never overt—you probably didn’t even know about them unless you scoured their first press releases—the themes typically influence and inspire the booking decisions in an organic way. This year’s no different.

“It becomes a guiding force when we’re evaluating artists. It influenced us bringing in RISK, it influenced our installation artists, it influences these microdecisions,” said Pelletier. “We set it there as: ‘Yeah, that feels good.’ ”

Friday night featured a wide range of performances including rap from B.C.’s Snotty Nose Rez Kids, punk from locals Piss Face, trancy techno by Art D’Ecco, and more. Saturday night’s headliner is legendary post-punk band ESG, there will be more hip hop at Zig’s Bar, and more (free!) surprise pop up shows are a guarantee.

If you want to experience the force of colour (if not literal colour force) for yourself this weekend, there’s still time! The festival runs until Sunday, August 18, when there will be a Mystery Tour of shows around town, and a full evening of programming at various venues.

All the details—and tickets—can be found here..