College hires B.C. ‘party band’ for fall bash

Yukon College has invited the whole community out to a dance party to celebrate the new school year. Fallin Back will take place tonight in the college gym. The main attraction is the Vancouver band Wassabi Collective.

Yukon College has invited the whole community out to a dance party to celebrate the new school year.

Fallin Back will take place tonight in the college gym.

The main attraction is the Vancouver band Wassabi Collective, and they’ve promised to keep the party bumping until the early hours of the morning.

“When people come to our shows, they usually dance and work out their thing that they need to work out on the dance floor,” said frontman Brent “Gisto” Hongisto.

The band fuses reggae, funk, pop, rock and hip hop into a brand of West Coast party music that is all their own.

Hongisto and Melissa Meretsky, who also fronts the band, know each other from back in high school in Ontario, when they played in competing bands.

Wassabi Collective formed in Penticton about 12 years ago, and has been through many incarnations since then.

“The band has changed forms and styles and image many times over its existence,” Hongisto said.

“It used to be some people with acoustic guitars doing singer-songwriter stuff, and then it bacame more of a jam band with marimbas, and then the marimbas left and it became more reggae electro, and that’s kind of where we’re at now.”

People who come out to Friday’s show can expect a party, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any moments of reprieve, said Hongisto.

“There’s lots of moods throughout the show. For the most part it’s a dance band experience, and we try to keep it moving for the most part. If it settles down for a minute, hopefully everyone gets their lighters out and sings along or something, right?”

The band currently calls Vancouver home, but they’ve also lived in Victoria, Nelson and Penticton, and have toured across North America.

Coming to Whitehorse, though, will be a first.

“Never been to the Yukon before, actually. We’re really excited about the opportunity to go up there. Yeah, it’s been a spot that I’ve wanted to hit,” said Hongisto.

The five-piece band has won acclaim as one of Canada’s top live acts, playing at festivals like Shambala and Evolve and sharing stages with big acts like k-os and Bedouin Soundclash.

Lauren Tuck, the event’s producer, said that it’s really special to have a band like Wassabi Collective come to Whitehorse. It costs a lot to pay for a large group to fly up.

“I just hope that people come out and support it, because music like this deserves to be heard,” Tuck said.

Two local bands, Old Cabin and Wrong Track Freight Train, will open the night. Both were featured in this year’s Frostbite Music Festival.

Old Cabin is the solo project of Jona Barr, who also plays with Death in Venice and Kevin Barr & Blue Eagle.

Wrong Track Freight Train features some of the Yukon’s finest musicians, including Ryan McNally, Bob Hamilton, Lonnie Powell and Rob Bergman.

“It’s flat out dancing music, rockabilly style,” said McNally.

Colleen Wirth, the director of student services at the college, said that they are excited about inviting the community out to celebrate the beginning of the school year.

“We have a lot of events in Whitehorse, but we haven’t had a concert like this at the college where we have invited the community to come and join us, so we’re hoping a lot of the community members will do so.”

The college has traditionally had a dance on the second Friday of classes as part of the orientation schedule, but usually it is restricted to students and staff.

Patrick Singh’s hot dog cart and Garlic A Gogo, Whitehorse’s newest food truck, will be on site to satisfy those late-night cravings.

Proceeds from the cash bar will go to the Frostbite Music Society.

Claire Ness will host the party.

The event is 19+.

Tickets can be purchased for $20 at Well Read Books, at the Yukon College bookstore, and at the door.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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