Author Archive

July 18, 2010
Jerricho Park
Vancouver, B.C

I decided to arrive a little later for my third day, with a plan of staying a little later than my second.  Without any one act in particular in mind as I arrived, I stumbled upon Alvin Youngblood Hart.  His Delta-styled, Afro touch on the blues just wasn’t doing it for me.

I quickly decided to change course to see if Colin Hay (of Men at Work fame) had what it took to be an entertaining singer/songwriter type.  To no surprise, I drew an immediate association with “A Land Down Under.”  His signatory Scottish-Australian voice lead the ballad “I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” splendidly.   He was tucked away in an almost completely shaded area and stage that I’d yet to check out.  While he did far more storytelling than he did playing, he was thankfully the funniest and possibly most charismatic gent I’d seen all weekend.

We laughed as he reminisced about being at Ringo Starr’s birthday (with whom he collaborates routinely, in Ringo’s All-Star act) where Yoko was invited to sing one of Ringo’s tunes.  Colin tried not to laugh as he explained that typically if you’re asked to sing someone’s song, you’d go up there and sing his song but it was unknown to anyone what is was that she sang.  Colin closed with an enjoyable folk-rock number that I believe he explained was used for a television commercial.  A funny guy and his somber songs.  Sometimes that’s right up my alley, à la Matthew Good, for example.

Victoria’s Jon and Roy assembled on what ended up being my favorite stage, where a handful of the aforementioned acts played.  Our indie/modern rock radio station The Peak.fm sponsored Stage 5.  The group started with a Jack Johnson-esque tune that the massive, side-stage crowd loved, though I couldn’t get into.  However, the upstroked guitar riffs and a far more soulful vocal offering surely did, shortly thereafter.  Despite my initial impression, the style seemed more-so on the ska/reggae side, like true islanders.  They even upped the ante further with a train chuggin’ rockabilly cut.  Closing with a heartfelt, violin driven number “Mountain Tops” also fared the crowd and I rather well.

Southern-fried rock at its best followed immediately, thanks to Saskatchewan’s The Deep Dark Woods.   Sad, soulful piano backed the twangy, slide-guitar leads throughout a number of country-rock n’ roll rounds.  Ryan Boldt’s character sung of leaving for war when he bled “The government has ordered me / Time is ticking, my love.”  More hopeful (though still chilling) lyrics were heard during “The Winter Hours” when he sang “There’s a small cove on the outside of town that I’d like to show you around / Oh, we will never be found / So fill up your cup with whiskey and gin / And let the time swallow you in.”

Although some parts were a little too jammy and elongated, they—and the dread-locked gritty gal I’d befriended—kept my attention enough to forfeit my plans to see Oka, an intriguing, rootsy, down-tempo, electronic act.

While I didn’t find anything overly super about the super-group “The Malahat Revue,” female vocalist Hannah Georgas appeared to be their highlight.  It should be noted that perhaps the superiority lies in the fact that members from four bands biked to each of their schedules shows together.  Kudos for that.  I let them fill the void until Mr. Ricky Skaggs, the bluegrass legend himself, took to the main stage.  At an appropriate time where I have a hankering for honky-tonk, this was a mostly unknown side of country, personally.  The special guest introducer was none other than Steven Segall.  I shit you not.  The man, the legend, the vomit inducing Segall was here to introduce Ricky and his gang, Kentucky Thunder.

The crowd sang Happy Birthday to Ricky upon his mentioning how honoured he was to be celebrating it at our beloved Folk Fest.  He followed with “How Mountain Girls Can Love,” a fast-pickin’ set opener.  The picking was certainly impressive, yet the sad, sour country carol “Your Selfish Heart” was furthermore appealing.  Speaking of his longing for his late mother’s homemade Kentucky fried chicken preceded the fiddle-friendly, square danceable gem “Mother’s Day Sleeping.”  Even though I can’t see myself putting his albums on my turntable at home, he was a legend worth seeing, if only for a brief while, before I said “So long” to Vancouver’s folk-rock frenzy.

…Weasel Was Here

Visit these artists online:

Colin Hay – colinhay.com / myspace.com/colinhay
Jon and Roy – jonandroy.camyspace.com/jonandroy
The Deep Dark Woods – thedeepdarkwoods.commyspace.com/deepdarkwoods
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder – rickyskaggs.commyspace.com/rickyskaggs

Category : Renegade Rock Review | | Date : July 30, 2010

July 22, 2010
The Venue
Vancouver, B.C

Combining strengths from a few now retired projects, three ladies and one gent assembled.  Forming their creative craft as Low Spin, they’ve aimed to produce a unique take on synthesizer-friendly, experimental power-pop.  Recording noteworthy demos (available at their MySpace) and working towards a full-length release has been for months, their highest priority.  Tonight, though, they came prepared to cure the curiousness of some and to enlighten the rest.

The four appeared on stage at The Venue, each one dressed in black.  Jesse’s bass and Rene’s guitar, too, matched the band’s crimson colour scheme.  The lead guitarist (a fellow who I understand was a recent addition to team) started off the program off with suspenseful squeals over likable ambient background noise.  Moments passed, finding the whole band turning up a heavier than expected output.  Based on a couple online selections, it seemed a fair bit more guitar infused than I would have imagined.  Perhaps this was thanks to his addition.  Either way, the delivery between each of them seemed confident immediately and sounded nearly spot-on.  The level of Jesse’s microphone unfortunately rendered her voice almost inaudible.  Though it was heard at a quiet point or two later on—the engineer must not have caught on.

She was, however, able to shine minutes later during “Blind Eye” with a bass line that begins by peeking its head in/out anxiously, then soon driving the tune, clearly displaying a little of her punk and rock influence.  René’s voice here is soft, yet poignant during her verses, reminiscent of Garbage’s Shirley Manson (think “I Would Die For You”) while exerting a little riot girl snarl during the chorus.

Having a lead guitarist who plays subtle melodies throughout the songs constantly, rather than masking the rhythm until a de facto solo is heard was a big part of their appeal.  While I appreciate his switch to synthesizer, for variety within the set—not to mention a very chilly segue between songs at one point—at times, his leads were missed.

He wasn’t the only one who changed his instrumental course.  A stand-up bass also appeared, to add some punch to the mix.  Or, rather, a little mix to the punch?  “Lay Your Weapons Down” heard René sing “I’ll take my chance with you / You rest beside me” in my favorite song of the evening.  The leads were again a fit, along side the switch on bass, while Jen bounced her soft batons during a tom-heavy track.  Jen is the only member I’d seen perform multiple times in the past (The Flairs and Love For Money).  While I enjoyed those acts, it was great to see her in a more focused, mature sounding group, displaying a different side of her playing.

“Adjust The Levels,” followed and was a song I’d loved the moment I heard it, months ago.  René’s alluring whispers and cries, alike, allow the catchy, simple tune to shine.  The demo heard very impressive production value and tonight’s live liberation followed suit.  This gem has non-contrived commercial value.  I’m a tad surprised it didn’t close the set, as the finale didn’t grab me nearly as much as the two aforementioned cuts, which preceded it.  But, then again, closing with the big guns may be contrived in itself.

You’ll see and hear what I mean when they join The Joy Formidable at our beloved Media Club on August 15th.

… Weasel Was Here

Visit them online: myspace.com/lowspin

Category : Renegade Rock Review | | Date : July 28, 2010