Sweet Ending to a Superb Summer
September 14 – By Kyra Wittkopf
With Tuesday September 6th being the first day back to reality for all of us students, I think an Andrew Allen and Hey Ocean show at the PNE was a great way for many to end their summer holidays. There’s nothing like a good outdoor show on a beautiful summer night! The park was packed and the crowd seemed excited. One thing I did notice was that most of the crowd seemed to be there primarily for one act of the other. Many Hey Ocean fans didn’t even know who Andrew Allen was, or vice versa. While I, personally, was excited for both, I must say I was particularly pumped for Andrew Allen, whom I have seen several times but has not played in Vancouver for quite some time. I discovered him quite by accident actually, when he opened for one of my favourite bands, Hanson (yes, like MMMbop), at the Commodore last year. Since then, his music has been a common go-to on my iTunes. His songs are incredibly catchy and I love his lyrics. I also like that not all of his songs sounds the same, they each have a different sort of vibe. He reminds me quite a bit of Jason Mraz in that sense. Hey Ocean also put on a great show and was a real crowd pleaser. They were energetic on stage and they’re upbeat tunes sounded flawless as they rang throughout the park. Getting to see these two acts at the PNE on such a nice night was a real treat and a great way to start off a new year!
Dancing, Smiles and Surprise Guests
September 9 – By Kyra Wittkopf
Carly Rae Jepsen literally came skipping down the street to the Media Club last Thursday for her show with ByStarlight and Rebel Emergency. I wouldn’t expect any less from an artist that brings so much energy and joy to the stage.
The Media Club was packed as Rebel Emergency, a unique rock, reggae and ska band from Toronto, took to the stage. I do enjoy the anticipation of seeing a band that you’ve never heard before. Their music was upbeat and got me dancing, which I always love. The lead singer has a really nice voice and a fun personally that shows in his performance. All the members, in fact, looked like they were having a great time which made for an engaging show. As a special treat, Daniel Wesley, whom Rebel Emergency opened for the last time they were in Vancouver, joined them on stage for one of their songs. As a Daniel fan myself, it was awesome to see him jump on stage with them and it was tons of fun for everyone.
Next, a personal favourite of mine, ByStarlight, rocked the Media Club. It was hard for me to refrain from dancing long enough to take some photos. It was awesome to hear a bunch of their new songs. Eleven Eleven is my personal favourite and I can’t wait for the new album. Their music is so fun to sing along to and a must have for any iTunes library in my opinion. Not to mention, they are incredibly nice guys!
Finally, a smile spread across my face as Carly took the microphone. There is something so real and relatable about her music and she completely invites you into her songs with her authentic performance. You can tell that her songs mean something to her and its exciting to get to be a part of that as you’re watching her perform. Her flawless voice and adorable grin captivated the Media Club. Her new songs have the same Carly vibe as her old stuff, but seem to delve even a little deeper and make you feel something as you’re listening. I definitely can’t wait to add her new album to my collection.
Guest Review: The Honda Civic Tour
September 6 – By Claire Myers (guest reviewer)
On August 31, the Honda Civic Tour took over Rogers Area. Openers Against Me, Rancid, and My Chemical Romance rocked the stage and prepared the crowd for the arrival of the headliner, Blink 182. In between head banging and belting along, I managed to collect my thoughts and prepare this quick review:
Against Me: Im not usually a fan of this particular genre, but Against Me served their purpose, and opened with high energy. The band was cramped while surrounded with set up for the later bands, but that did not stop them from rocking out with spot on vocals and unblemished instruments. In the beginning, it appeared as if they were suffering from “Endless Song Syndrome” (when every song sounds so similar that their whole act is like one giant song), but then came their hit “Don’t Loose Touch”. It was unique, upbeat, and was their best song of the night.
Rancid: With a few more fans ready for Rancid, they emerged with impeccable vocals and a sound that was true to their records. Their stage presence was practically non-existent, but that seemed to be over the heads of the fist pumping moshers. The band played a nostalgic set that brought older fans back to their teen angst years, and got the younger fans amped for My Chemical Romance. Near the end of the set the bands energy started to burn out, but they closed the show with hits “Falls Back Down” and “Time Bomb” which captivated the audience again and got everyone psyched for the rest of the evening.
My Chemical Romance: My Chemical Romance surfaced to a dressed up set with flashy new lights and screens, but that did not take away from the superb performance they put on. The music quality was not as significant as their peers, but MCR made up for that entirely in their stage presence and ability to engage the entire stadium. Gerard Way’s firecracker-energy was infectious and he commanded the entire audience’s attention with a pure and natural talent that resembled many of music’s greats. My favourite songs of the set were “Helena” (an oldie but a goodie) and “Welcome to The Black Parade” which both had the spectators cheering and screaming along.
Blink 182: I could seriously describe the entire set by saying this: Travis Barker has still got it. But in reality, the entire show they put on was a reminiscent collection of hits that were strung together with genuine talent. They balanced an ideal ratio of classic hits (which drove the crowd WILD), a few new jams, and their infamous crude humour. The music was great, and the band sounded just as fresh, young and remarkable as they have throughout their entire careers. The night came to an end with an expected yet astonishing dumb solo (courteous of Travis Barker and a flying metal contraption), and their breakout hit “Carousel” which left fans with lost voices, and a memorable night at a well-rounded rock show.
“A Good Show” lived up to its name!
Aug 30 – By Brittany Holmes
Apparently it was Stage Left Media’s loss when the bus ride took more than an hour to make its way to the venue for A Good Show. The opening act Mark Irving got the most outrageous crowd pleasing reviews from nearly everyone I spoke to. I am very disappointed in the translink system for making me unable to hear his performance. But for what it’s worth, we here at Stage Left Media still highly recommend him even if it is based entirely on crowd feedback!
The second act Mad Decent, on the other hand, that caught me off guard. Despite the less than perfect setting, this rap-rock group managed to have a stage presence that drew you in; grooving to the drum beat while still intently listening for the next rap riff. Personally, what made the performance was their stage energy and unity as a group.
Up next was one of our personal favourites, Wintercoast. These indie folk rockers combine a laid-back vibe within their songs, an emotional draw from their lyrics, and an energy that will have anyone grooving along. Not only did these five members recently release their EP Trees, Homes & Better Places but their single Yukon has some of the most phenomenal melodies to originate from the Vancouver music scene in quite some time. In combination with their folk indie look and Samuel Chow’s killer guitar riffs, these guys and gal are more than willing to tickle your folk funny bone and take you on an indie musical rollercoaster of phenomenal awesomeness.
Last, but certainly not least, were the musical masterminds behind the show itself. They call themselves Good for Grapes, but they also are good for the ears! This group comprises itself of a pianist, bass, electric and acoustic guitars as well as my personal favourites, a trombone and an accordion. Although I was a little surprised by the lack of a drummer, I was also interested to see how the songs would play out in regards to diversity in tunes. To my ears pleasure, I was most certainly not disappointed. Good for Grapes is a band that I would highly recommend to see live because of the sheer volume of characters in the band itself!
August 30 – By Kyra Wittkopf
I find, in Vancouver, I am always pleasantly surprised when I venture out to a show from which I don’t know what to expect. I wish I could attend every show that goes on in this city, because there is so much talent here. Unfortunately, there’s just one of me and I barely have time to scratch the surface of the vast amounts of great music to be heard, but that won’t stop me from trying.
One such pleasant surprise was the Music Café that the We Love Vancouver Festival put on. In this case, the ‘one of me’ wasn’t able to stay for all of the artists, but it was a pleasure to see an event like this taking place successfully and catch a couple artists I had never seen. It took place in Calhoun’s, a spacious café on Broadway with a great atmosphere. Brett Wildeman’s music, a well executed combination of spoken word and acoustic guitar, was perfect for the space and very enjoyable. With his unique voice, he delivers this style effortlessly and his lyrics keep you thinking. I can’t wait to see what Brett comes up with next as he goes into the recording studio this winter. I also had the opportunity to hear an alternative rock band called Pomme, who performed an excellent acoustic version of their set for this event. Their music is definitely something I would listen to on my iTunes and their performance was solid. I would be interested to see their electric show.
Keep an eye out for small events like this in your neighbourhood (and we will too)! You never know what awesome music you might hear at a free café show in your area.
100 Monkeys, 100% Funky
August 19 – By Brittany Holmes
These southern funk rock musicians were not my typical expectation for a rock concert. Needless to say they come prepared to throw down some funky tracks meant to get even your grandma grooving. 100 Monkeys consists of five members including a true New Orleans jazz funk musician who can make anyone want to wear black and head down to the closest jazz bar to hear him belt a tune out. Lucky for me, he took a night off from the jazz bars and joined along with the rest of the group to give one of the most action packed sets I’ve seen in a while.
These guys bring such an incredible amount of charisma and character to the stage that they can make anyone a fan. Not only do all five members play just about every instrument needed for their set including, drums, bass, guitar, piano, bongo drums and a trumpet, but they also ROCK SHOW at playing them! Besides making my jaw drop to floor nearly every time they switched instruments they got me again by even allowing the audience to submit topics for what the band calls improv songs and as Vancouver would have it, our song was named “Bad Reputation”.
Overall 100 Monkeys put on an eye catching show that will always keep you guessing what is next. I would recommend trying to grab a pair of tickets next time they are in town a.s.a.p. I promise that you will not regret it. To top it all off, they are not too bad on the eyes either!
An Electric Evening
August 19 – By Kyra Wittkopf
The Electric Owl Social Club was the perfect backdrop for the evening of incredible music that took place on Thursday. It was an impressive line up of some of Vancouver’s best and I was thrilled when I managed to fit it into my schedule. After struggling slightly to find the venue, which is in a bit of an odd location and has poor signage outside, I was pleasantly surprised by the vibe inside. The venue itself is nicely laid out with two bars and lots of seating. It was a fairly large crowd of friends and fans alike.
While I unfortunately missed the first few songs, I was very glad to find that I had made it in time for the last few songs of The Belle Game’s set. Their live performance had an energy about it that filled the large venue with ease. Having only caught the last few songs, I was definitely hungry for more. I have added The Belle Game to my concert bucket list and I can’t wait to see them again!
Elias is a band that has been on that same bucket list for some time, so I wasn’t about to miss their first Vancouver show in
almost a year. The first few songs were an intriguing combination of new and old, but it was when they played one of my faves “I Hear Drums” that I was truly drawn into the performance and captivated by it. The drums, indeed, were something to be heard. The drummer, Stefan, plays with a kind of intensity that you can not only feel, but see on his face. Having gotten a small taste of their new stuff, I can’t wait to hear the finished products.
I was a little disappointed to look around during the Rococode performance and see that the crowd had thinned out slightly. It was certainly a performance worth sticking around for. I usually don’t fancy myself a true ‘fan’ of a band until I have seen them live, and I can proudly say that I am now a Rococode fan! In trying to describe my response to the show, I could not help but come back to the word ‘delighted’. They put a smile on my face and I wasn’t bored for a second.
Therein Lies the Beautiful Day!
August 14 – By Kyra Wittkopf
Though one of my favourite songs by Redbird is titled Therein Lies the Grey, there was nothing grey about Concerts in the Square.
As someone who spends a lot of time working on my computer, it was an absolute blessing to get out of the house on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon and enjoy some live music at an outdoor venue called Shipbuilders Square in North Vancouver. As I stepped off the 239 bus at Lonsdale and 1st street I was greeted by the quaint atmosphere of North Van and the faint sound of music drifting over from my intended destination.
I arrived as they were changing over the equipment on the stage, which left me just enough time to check out the local artists and vendors that were set up in the square and grab a refreshing lemonade. Overall, it was a well organized event and a great idea. Unfortunately, it was quite poorly advertised and, therefore, not very well attended. Still, the performance by Redbird did not disappoint. They had the same delicate balance of polished sounds and raw emotion that I am accustomed to hearing on their EP. Their performance was well received by those who did attend. “I really like them…she has a very interesting voice,” said one of the jewellery vendors that I was chatting to after the performance.
I also purchased a hard copy of their EP at the event. Although I appreciate the convenience of purchasing music online and realize that the waning popularity of CDs is inevitable, I, myself, am still quite attached to my shelf of CDs. Redbird’s EP is very nicely put together and a lovely addition to my collection. I must offer my compliments to the graphic designer and photographer, who managed to capture the mood of the music on the disc quite well.
Overall, I was impressed with the performance and look forward to seeing Redbird again.
Visit Redbird’s website to hear their music, and check them out at the Railway Club on Thursday, August 18.
The Best Kind of Treasure! (SchMusic BC Party)
August 11, 2011 – By Kyra Wittkopf
As a volunteer at the recent SchMusic Tiki Party, I was responsible for handing guests their official treasure hunt as they walked through the door into the Tiki Bar at the Waldorf. While it may seem a bit strange to send a room full of artists and music industry professionals on a treasure hunt, it was actually an incredible icebreaker as everyone searched the room for a manager, a Music BC board member, a peak performance project participant and more!
The SchMusic party is put on by Music BC and is an opportunity for the Vancouver music industry to get together, meet one another, catch up and have a good time. I had the opportunity to catch up with my friends in 41st and Home and ByStarlight, two of my favourite Vancouver bands. In my quest to find a guitar player to list for my treasure hunt, I also had the pleasure of meeting John, the guitar player for another of my favourite bands, Portage and Main.
This being the first SchMusic party that I have attended, it was both exciting and reassuring to see smiles, laughter and hugs everywhere you looked. The Vancouver music industry is an exciting and ever-growing scene, but events like this prove how interconnected and supportive this community can be. While the X may typically mark the spot for a chest of gold and diamonds, it seems that this treasure hunt led to an even more valuable kind of treasure – new friends!
I would also like to give a big shout out to Rebecca, Leigh and Savannah from Music BC who organized this event and made it such a big success! Job well done, as always!