Review by Andrew Parker
Photography by Rodney Gitzel
The first course for the audience appeared in the form of Revulva, a hard-rocking quartet of East Vancouver women who tilted and thrusted their way through a short opening set. More than a few people were seduced by the band's pelvic, booming sounds, not to mention some of the tastiest leather pants since the Lizard King. Epicurious himself would have been lusting! The band lent their four-chord attack to what eventually reigned as the most surprising cover of the evening, a campcore rendition of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina." Revulva's interpretation reminded me how cover tunes are best performed when they are removed from their 'popular context' and remodeled using unexpected instruments and arrangements. To finish, the musicians from Revulva destroyed the illusions of the few people crowded up to the stage by screaming "I Don't Want to Sleep with You!" as one of their final tunes. Of course, in true recognition of the punk aesthetic, rejection makes the heart/loins grow fonder, and on this evening the crowd in attendance was no exception.
Following a brief interlude, the Technicians of the Sacred were in the house. The band embraced the Niagara aurally and provided a tightly-played and cool set. In particular, the guitarist was impressive, creatively exploring his fretboard and producing sounds that fit snugly with the larger hiphop beat. While the guitarist focused on these killer riffs, the same, unfortunately, cannot be said for the bassist, whose performance seemed a bad parody of a Flea instructional video. His tongue control problems were hard to tolerate, ultimately overshadowing his work on bass. Vocals were in capable hands, playfully weaving clever rhymes that were eagerly consumed by the relaxed audience. Overall, the Techies were a joy to hear, sending my memory on a trip to the funk-heavy melodies of early Urban Dance Squad.
Victoria's pride, dyed-in-the-wool country-punkers the Vinaigrettes took the role of headliners for the evening. During their introduction by a devoted fan/Niagara staff member, lead singer Carolyn Mark demonstrated how well her hands substituted for a friends' missing bra, a hilarious moment that merely scratched the surface of the band's hyperbole. I for one was mildly disappointed that bassist Scott Henderson did not bring along the slinky number he was wearing on the band's aptly titled disc Gross Negligee. Oh well, the fashion end of things was handled by Mark, who viciously looked the part of a jaded waitress at Mel's Diner, the 'Kiss my Grits' scrawled on her ass merely punctuating the obvious.
It is well known that this band plays a smoking version of "Ring of Fire." Not ones to disappoint, the Vinaigrettes ripped into the cover and ignited the dancefloor... though unfortunately, a few confused deadheads thought the song needed an extended jam. On "Blindspot," a blackly ironic tune about the bliss involved in running over a loved one, the commanding guitars were handled expertly by Brigette Wilkins, whose playing all evening was fantastic.
The Vinaigrettes' sound, a collage of twang and intelligently caustic lyrics, is a pleasure to experience. Whether it's the invitations ("Ladies choice for all you dancers") or the shit-eating grins on their faces, the band's performance imbues the music with a down-home, backporch quality. Perhaps the finest moment for the band happened during "Tsunami," an instrumental dedicated to Vancouver's Surfdusters which saw the Vinaigrettes rock the Niagara with the full-gale force of said west coast storm.
All told, it was a high energy exaltation of a night. People were primed for risky music and committed antics. If the atmosphere at Under the Volcano '97 turns out to be this spicy, then I can hardly wait!
Considering copying some of the images from this story?
Please read this first. Thanks.