Category Archives: Music

Get Wasted

Summer festival mixes comedy, melody and noise

BY: SARAH BERMAN, MEGAPHONE MAGAZINE

Strap on your party helmets because Music Waste is back for another five days of weird and wild music, art and performance.

Analog Bell Service photo courtesy of Sarah Cordingley

Analog Bell Service photo courtesy of Sarah Cordingley

The annual festival runs June 9 to 13 and features a veritable army of independent local talent. From art-punk and folk experiments to sketch comedy and mutant disco, this year’s lineup promises to excite the senses in bizarre and unimaginable ways.

“It’s all about music and experimentation and art,” explains co-organizer Sarah Cordingley—who also fronts a raucous guitar-synth outfit called Gang Violence. “It’s not about making money or getting big or any other industry elbow-rubbing bullshit.

“Basically we’re just about having fun and partying with awesome music.”

Industry bullshit aside, the buzz surrounding MW09 has been markedly louder than in previous years—thanks in part to some big names. The media-lauded Japandroids are set to rock the Biltmore for the bargain basement price of $5, while the Halifax duo Ghost Bees will headline an anticipated stripped-down folk set.

“The Japandroids have really blown up, as they say,” Cordingley says. “They’ve played with us for years, and were always really excited. Now it’s really exciting to have them be involved and to be so cool about it.”

Cordingley is a seasoned Music Waster, but she assures the festival is designed for newcomers: “A big part of Music Waste is for people to see music they don’t normally see. It’s so cheap to get in—you may as well go to check it out.”

Although a large chunk of MW09 celebrates Vancouver’s noise, punk and experimental scene, the festival’s most recent additions tend to span across many genres—or defy classification completely. For more subdued sets, Cordingley recommends visiting the Secret Loft.

“The Secret Loft—provided we don’t manage to get it shut down during the festival—is an amazing space,” Cordingley says. The second-story venue, which has recently been converted from a yoga studio, will host a number of up-and-coming pop, folk and indie-rock acts, including festival newcomers Analog Bell Service.

But because the Secret Loft is not an official music venue, bands and concert-hoppers are being cautioned to keep it down. “We’ve come up with a special set for it,” Bell Service singer and keyboardist Chris Kelly explains. “We’ve been asked to really strip it down … I think Music Waste is just afraid of stirring up the cops.”

Vancouver’s illegal venues have a long history of bad luck. “Lots of these places get blown up too quickly,” Cordingley laments. “End up turning into underage booze cans.” To ensure unconventional venues like the Secret Loft survive, Cordingley hopes both bands and audiences will make the effort to keep it underground..

In addition to live music, the Waste namesake has expanded into the world of visual art. With five original exhibits, along with a few in-gallery performances, the weeklong pass (still priced at $15 plus service charges) covers more than 25 uniquely paired events.

“I like that Music Waste is really trying to embrace all aspects of this emerging Vancouver scene,” says Kelly. “I think that helps combat this stigma that Vancouver’s not a fun city to hang out in.”

Also new to this year’s lineup is a fresh batch of comedians. Prominently featured in a series of promo videos, acts like Manhussy and Bronx Cheer share the same party mentality. “The showcase at Montmarte is going to be huge. There’s so many I think half the audience is going to be comedians.”

“My favourite part is just biking around in the summertime, catching as much as you possibly can,” Cordingley says.

Visit www.musicwaste.ca for the complete Music Waste schedule.

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Quiet Riots

Photo by Stephen Connor.

Photo by Stephen Connor.

Police tell the Cobalt to turn down the volume

BY: SARAH BERMAN, MEGAPHONE MAGAZINE

When it comes to punk and metal shows, there are few Vancouver venues as loud and proud as the Cobalt. Attached to a notorious Single Room Occupancy hotel, the hardcore bar is praised by fans as the last haven for underground and extreme music in Vancouver.

But after nine years of punk rock patronage, the Cobalt may have to shut its doors for being a little too noisy. Last month, three separate noise complaints brought Vancouver police to the bar’s doorstep within less than a week.

“We’ve been getting these weird complaints—after nine years of nothing,” bar manager Wendythirteen explained. She said Vancouver’s after-hours noise bylaws might put the Cobalt out of business.

Diane Shepard is a property use inspector for the City of Vancouver. She said bars with extended hours are subject to specific and testable noise requirements. “If we have complaints, we’ll go out and take readings. If they’re not in compliance, we’ll go from there.”

“The hoops they put you through are impossible,” Wendythirteen lamented about the city’s late night licensing restrictions.

To stay open past midnight, bars like the Cobalt must be equipped with metal detectors, security cameras, ID scanners and adequate soundproofing. Owners of the nearby Astoria Hotel bar recently spent $120,000 on a soundproofing upgrade, to comply with city standards.

Sound upgrades at the Cobalt will cost upwards of $50,000. Wendythirteen says she simply can’t pay for renovations. “I can’t afford it, nor am I willing to do it,” she said. “The slumlords won’t fix their shit—why should I put money into fixing their building?”

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Punk rock saved the Minutemen—but will it save the Cobalt?

It seems one of Vancouver’s most prized punk, metal and extreme music venues is facing threats of closure, according to a growing Facebook group titled Keep the Cobalt Alive. More than 3,500 people have joined to ensure the beloved hardcore bar stays open.

Agent Orange plays February 22, 2009 at the Cobalt. Photo courtesy of Avenida Once.

Agent Orange plays February 22, 2009 at the Cobalt.

Reasons for the impending closure remain unclear. The Facebook group’s administrators have cited both noise complaints and Olympic politics as possible factors. While the Cobalt has thrived complaint-free for over nine years, Vancouver Police responded to two separate incidents of noise just last weekend.

On Wednesday, February 25th, the following update was posted by the venue’s vociferous concert promoter, Wendy Churcheen (known among Cobalt regulars as Wendythirteen):

“I WONDER WHO IN THE CONDO ACROSS THE STREET COULD POSSIBLY HEAR A SMALL VOCAL P.A. OVER TRAFFIC ON MAIN ST AND THE VIADUCT…I SMELL BULLSHIT….HERE WE GO…

WE HAD THE COPS THERE SUNDAY FOR THE AGENT ORANGE SHOW…OK…DOOR OPEN …BIG PA….MAYBE…..

BUT AFTER 9 YEARS WITH NO COMPLAINTS…5 OF THOSE WITH THE CONDO EXISTING…HMMMMM

AND NOW TONITE…SMALL VOCAL PA….COPS AGAIN….ANOTHER NOISE COMPLAINT….IS THIS HOW IT STARTS?

ARRRGGHHH…..THIS IS BULLSHIT…2 COMPLAINTS IN 3 NIGHTS…AFTER 9 YEARS OF NONE….

I’LL KEEP YOU POSTED AS THE SHIT UNFOLDS….”

The Cobalt is the home of both Monday Night Khaos and Fake Jazz Wednesdays—two weekly concert features that support local punk and experimental bands. Fans of the bar (located at Main and Prior, attached to the Cobalt Motor Hotel) have named it Vancouver’s “last true haven of the underground.”

A benefit concert is likely to be held to raise money for the venue. As of yet, no date has been selected.

Photo courtesy of Avenida Once.

Rockin’ for Insite, again

A poster promoting Rock for Insite 2, as seen outside Red Cat Records.

A poster promoting Rock for Insite 2, as seen outside Red Cat Records.

Just in case you’re not there already:

Matt Camirand (of Black Mountain fame) is performing at yet another concert supporting Insite, Vancouver’s one-and-only supervised injection site. This time, the full-day event (which actually started at 1:00 pm today) is happening at the Railway Club on the corner of Dunsmuir and Seymour.

The lineup features a varied assortment of local staples and up-and-comers, including Swank, Orchid Highway, The Get Down, Bocephus King, D.Trevlon, Maria in the Shower, Invasives, The Furies, The Modelos, Eldorado, CR Avery, and the Pack A.D. 

Tickets are $18 at the door. 

The event follows a December 6 concert held at the street corner of Main and Hastings, where Black Mountain and frontman of Bedouin Soundclash Jay Malinowski performed. Whereas the last effort had more of a protest vibe, this one seems more like a fundraiser.

$2.5 million Cultural Olympiad invades the Eastside

Vancouver-based musician Matt Good thinks Olympic money would be much better spent on poverty relief in the Downtown Eastside.

He’s certainly not alone. With a crumbling world economy, growing city debt and increasingly visible street poverty, it’s no surprise many Vancouver residents are reconsidering their support for the two-week, $6 billion event.

But despite extensive criticism, the Olympic machine keeps on rolling. To remind us all of the inevitable 2010 Games (or perhaps convince us this whole shebang is really worthwhile) the folks at VANOC have launched a seven-week cultural festival.

The 2009 Cultural Olympiad kicked off with a Chinese New Year celebration throughout the streets of Chinatown, Feb. 1.

The 2009 Cultural Olympiad officially began February 1 with a Chinese New Year celebration.

Yes, the 2009 Cultural Olympiad is upon us, which boasts over 400 events spanning from February 1 to March 21. Many Canadian musicians have been scheduled to appear (including Chad VanGaalen, Hawksley Workman, Broken Social Scene, Tegan and Sara, Joel Plaskett and of course Sarah McLachlan) as well as a wide variety of art, dance and theatre exhibitions.

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Indie prodigies get their start

Q: How do you keep inner-city teenagers out of trouble?

A: You hand them a guitar and amp.

The Disgruntled Toddlers were the first band to win the Hastings Street Indie Recording Sessions in 2006.

The Disgruntled Toddlers were the first to win the Hastings Street Indie Recording Sessions in 2006.

At least this is the solution supported by the Hastings Street Media Lab, which is hosting its third annual Hastings Street Indie Recording Sessions on February 6. The youth-focused battle of the bands will offer kids between ages 13 and 19 a chance to rock out and win prizes.

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Local rockers support Insite

If you haven’t already heard, Vancouver rock quintet Black Mountain played a free outdoor show on December 6, 2008. But it wasn’t just any free show. This particular concert was in support of Vancouver’s controversial safe injection site, located near the corner of Hastings and Main Street.

The political message was simple: “fuck Stephen Harper.”

(I’m not kidding—this phrase was shouted into the microphone repeatedly).

But during more tactful moments, these local musicians sought to warn the federal government that Insite saves lives on the streets of Vancouver. The slogan “play music not politics” adorned dozens of surrounding placards and banners. Organized by the Portland Hotel Society (PHS), the afternoon event also featured free burgers, stilt walkers, and sheets upon sheets of cold December rain.

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