Review by P. Freako
Photography by Paul Clarke
Vancouver was the last stop for the Canadian leg of the Sno-Jam '96 punkfest tour, and it finished in fine raucous style.
Vancouver homesters Ten Days Late were first to attack the stage. This five-piece delivered a thorough set of reality-laden, aggressive, straight ahead punk grooves. Singer Renee Poirier's vocal style and stage presence was Iggy-esque, with her sleek snaky movements around the mic. TDL weren't bounding about the stage, chosing rather to focus their energy in a static position. Unfortunately, those watching them emulated this lack of boundingness -- until the third song, that is, when the band members waved their arms up and down, giving the universal signal to pogo. The crowd instantly followed suit - but only for that one song. Cool, fast paced tunes such as "Helicopter Head" (which you can buy on a 7"), "Grenadine" ("talk to me in the morning, I might be sober") and "Reach" ("if you want to find me you have to go where it hurts") accurately reflected the band's realism. Like their name, TDL offered us provocative images, drawing us in to feed on the emotional meat of their songs. Looking confident on the big stage, they delivered a powerful set to a crowd that wasn't completely warmed up yet...until now. The benefactors of this mental stretch...
...were Mock, a three-piece from Santa Cruz, California. This speed chord punk band poured into it and had the mosh pit flailing in a hurry, rewarding the stalwarts by tossing CDs and shirts into the crowd. Their vigour-laced set had the crowd tuned in and moshing up a storm. They ended their set with the song "Good vs. Evil," filling the air with power chords and questioning our society's twisted unmoralistic tendencies, reaffirming my belief that Jacques Parizeau should die a horrible death. Death by listening to Mariah Carey whine maybe. Ooh! That's perfect. Mock took us to Warp 7 and rattled the ship.
Ok, I'm feeling good, freed of tenseness... until this nervous looking guy kept wandering around the crowd. He looked like he was looking for something but didn't know exactly what it was. This guy seemed kind of weird, and this was confirmed when he climbed behind the drum kit. Christ! I should have known he was a drummer (that's a joke, okay, so relax!). Enter Hi Standard from Tokyo, a three-piece crazy punk band running out on stage sporting balloon penises on their heads. I can best describe this band as all out crazy punkaroo style insanity. Starting timidly, at times they grabbed our attention with 50's style oooh-oooh vocal harmonies and, just when we were starting to feel warm and fuzzy, they just broke into it with extremely rapid guitar work and brain-bending drum bashing, sending us out to surf the crowd. The highlight for me was their cover of "California Dreamin'," which was probably the fastest cover of that song ever recorded, and they somehow managed to keep the harmonies together. Impressive. They spoke only broken English, but talked enough to let us know that they liked it Doggie Style. They then apologized for the previous statement. They didn't have to, it wasn't offensive. People loved it. I enjoyed this band immensely as they launched us past Warp 7 and had us pushing Warp 9.
Now the worst goddamn thing that could have happened, happened. The small throng that had gathered and become frenzied together were brought down by a pre-arranged hackey (hippie)-sac demonstration by -- worst of all -- two goofs with Adidas shorts and shirts. Now they did have a flaming hackey-sac happening, but that's still pretty lame. Come on, we've got an all-ages punk show happening with pierced kids wearing big chains, baggy pants and green hair. Why the hell would you showcase a hippie-sac demonstration?!? Stoopid! Lucky for the 'Didas boys that someone didn't give 'em a good whack with their skateboard! Gotta get back to Warp 9, gotta get us angry again...
TFP shirts with the famously recognizable STP logo were the most prevalent amongst the concert-goers on this day, so naturally the crowd went nuts when Ten Foot Pole staked their place on stage. This four-piece frenzy of activity jumped around with contorted faces, assaulting their instruments with an aggressive desire to personally take this crowd to new heights of punk energy. Drawing inspiration from varied sources, TFP played an assortment of tunes ranging from a song dedicated to a bandmember's grandfather to a song written by a friend who's in prison for robbing banks (can't you just picture a wide-eyed Bart Simpson there, uttering "Cooool"?). Their awesome guitar work and sweat-filled energy pumped up the crowd and had us pushing Warp 10.
We were there, all we needed was somebody to take us home. The headliners, No Use For A Name were up to such a task. Ruling from start to finish, they had the joint shakin' while managing to settle into a comfortable, frenzied groove of high-energy guitar-screaming songs. Before the second last song of the set, they exclaimed that if it weren't for the barricade at the front of the stage they'd invite us up on stage -- but if we were to try it, well, then they hadn't told us to. Three people made it past security onto the stage and that's the only encouragement No Use For A Name needed to invite everybody to it for the final song of the evening. Security was cool on this situation; they knew it would be futile. So they stepped aside and watched as the bodies flew past them. I'd say there were at least 40-50 people on stage by the end, singing, flailing and going crazy. It was one of those moments that ruled supreme. Warp 17 all the way!!!
Sno-Jam, the Vancouver chapter was simply an awesome shower of punkedness with each band bringing their own brand of insanity to the stage. I loved it, it was a fun show to be at, and I'm wet with anticipation waiting for Sno-Jam '97!
Considering copying some of the images from this story?
Please read this first. Thanks.