Wet on the Outside, Moist on the Inside

Moist's David Usher Moist
with I Mother Earth and Mudgirl
Pacific Coliseum
Vancouver, B.C.
Monday, January 20, 1997

Review by Andrew Parker
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

Vancouver on a Monday night in January and just for variety... a severe, unrelentless downpour. Sounds like an ideal kind of evening to join 7,000 other keyed-up Canadian pop-rock fans for the triple bill of Mudgirl, I Mother Earth, and Moist. Ideal, that is, until I begin the epic journey to the Hastings Street fairgrounds. You see, I'm a prisoner of the bus system, which one wouldn't assume to be half bad considering I live in a city where the transit authority was awarded the Golden Wheel for being #1 in North America. Mudgirl vocalist Kim Bingham However, as per usual, those designations are pure bullocks and my illusions of seeing Mudgirl quickly evaporate as bus after loaded bus pass me by. As my friend comments, "Product of B.C. -- just add oil and seal."

By the time we arrived, the final strains of Mudgirl's set were over and any hopes of putting life to the hype I'd heard earlier in the day were dashed. According to sources close to Mudgirl, namely an ex-bandmate from the Me, Mom, and Morgentaler days, the group was pumped and ready to belt out their tunes in the big space of the Forum. A few folks that did catch Mudgirl's set thought they put on a good show, especially in light of the sound which was set pretty low, even for an opening band, and the crowd, which appeared to be conserving its energy for the headliners.

All tentativeness left the Coliseum when I Mother Earth took the stage and the Pacific Northwest once again became the site of another moshfest-cum-human salmon-spawning session. Edwin, the band's beefed up frontman, a curious hybrid of watered-down Black Flag-era Rollins and a posing Vedder, did an amusing job of baiting the crowd into moshing harder, harder. My vantage point in the lower stands was a perfect spot to watch the sea of heads, pumping fists, and bobbing feet as they sunk repeatedly into the thrashing throng. Instinctively, I nearly jumped into the fray, but watching was too much fun to abandon.

IME vocalist Edwin One serious letdown of the IME show was the difficulty in hearing both the basslines and the guitar work, the sounds of both lost in the spacious arena. What was audible, though, were some infectious grooves laid down by two percussionists, one whaling away on a traditional kit, while the other shook, beat, and pounded on an incredible array of congas, dejembes, shakers... On "Another Sunday," IME demonstrated why the term "tribal pop" is often suggested as their musical vein. On a night like this, despite the inferior sound, the band's rhythms carried the show, and definitely succeeded in pulling the crowd in deep, cutting a thick, Santana jive.

IME guitarist Jagori Tanna For the last couple songs it seemed that the sound people had finally recognized some flaws in the acoustics and we were treated to some of Jag Tanna's cool guitar style. His playing on "Big" featured a percussive element that saw him top his strings like a bass, giving off a thicker, booming quality. Also worth a mention here was his ability to bunny hop, the likes of which haven't been seen here since the mid-80's WHO reunion tours.

Compared with the maelstrom of sound that followed, the opening of Moist's show was skillfully subdued, even ethereal in a way. Visiting from Mollies Revenge was cellist Lisa Wagner, who added a haunting quality to the early moments of what proved to be a truly well-orchestrated pop concert. For Moist, the sound was crisper, sharper, and had balanced neatly, wrenching every ounce of emotion from frontman David Usher's singing. While his stage IME fans antics, including wrestling his bandmates and continually "eating his hands" as he sang, became tiresome, Usher has incredible charisma, which translates into an arresting stage presence. Running through a set riddled with their radio hits of the last three years, "Leave It Alone," "Silver" and "Push" among them, Moist had the crowd entranced with power chords and lyrical hooks. As the adoring female fans around me hyperventilated, I had no difficulty imagining the near-Beatlemania that Moist allegedly created on their recent Asian tour.

Moist guitarist Mark Makowy Best Campy Cover Award of the evening went to Moist for turning the Stones' "Miss You" into a rollicking trip, replete with the band manager belting out a few licks on the blues harp. Just to keep him honest, I suppose, or maybe in retaliation for some shitty hotel from the past, Usher tackled said manager, sending him flying and delighting/confusing the crowd at the same time. Still full of surprises, Moist closed the show with a mixed-bag encore, with guitarist Mark Makowy sampling a Metallica riff before leading the charge into an attempt to inject some cool into "Billie Jean"... yes, I'm talking about the dance number from everybody's whipping boy, complete with killer guitar solos at the bridge.

All considered, a truly entertaining evening by an all-Canuck lineup, complete with great pop songs and spontaneous wrestling. Can you really ask for more? My friend and I decided the answer was no, as we rejected the bus in favour of a long, chatty stroll home. Good talk, good pizza, and -- definitely -- a quicker mode of transport.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on February 7, 1997

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