Category Archives: People

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.

Street Pets

Jill Baron and her three rats: Bear, Dixie and Ree.

Jill Baron and her three rats: Bear, Dixie and Ree.

Homeless find new ways to house four-legged friends

BY SARAH BERMAN, MEGAPHONE MAGAZINE

Jill Baron knows that caring for an animal is an immense responsibility.

Since she was four years old, Baron has been a devoted owner of many cats, dogs, birds and rodents. She even volunteered at the SPCA for 11 years. But last winter, Baron became homeless. Despite cold weather and colder criticism, Baron continues to care for three rats and two cats on the streets of Vancouver.

On a Commercial Drive sidewalk—in front of a Mr. Pets franchise—Baron sits cross-legged, reading a book. In front of her, she props up a small notebook that simply reads: ‘It’s easy to ignore me, but I do need your help.’

“I’ve gone without food for an entire day—many, many days—to make sure my pets ate well. Not just ate, but ate well,” she said, while motioning toward the rats tucked away in her jacket. “My oldest rat ever was seven years and four months old—which is impossible for a rat. They usually only live one to three years.”

Baron volunteered for the SPCA for 11 years, before becoming homeless last winter.

Baron volunteered for the SPCA for 11 years, before becoming homeless last winter.

Baron is just one of many homeless people in Vancouver who own a pet. Although many people think the homeless should not be allowed to care for animals, research shows a pet can be an important survival tool for a homeless person; and they often offer extra love and attention to their furry friends.

But homeless pet owners, until recently, have been largely left out in the cold. Just last year, most shelters in Vancouver would not allow pets to stay with their handlers. However, five new shelters that accept pets have finally given homeless pet owners and their companions a chance to get off the streets.

Mya Wollf, manager of the newly opened Stanley/New Fountain Shelter on Cordova Street, believes the city’s new shelters will help people like Baron get back on their feet and into permanent residence.

“Vancouver is moving in the right direction with pet allowances in shelters,” Wollf said.

In December, the municipal and provincial governments teamed up with the Street-to-Home Foundation to open five emergency, low-barrier shelters: First United Church, 240 Northern Way, 1435 Granville, the Stanley/New Fountain, and 1442 Howe. Since then, these shelters have put a roof over the heads of dozens of pets and their owners.

“We’ve got two dogs right now,” Wollf said. “It improves the morale just having a nice fuzzy creature around.”

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