Johnny Hanson

Outside the Electric Circus, Part II

David Hawkes' Modern Rock Circus (Day Two)
with Sloan, Matthew Good Band, Pluto, the Super Friendz, Green Apple Quickstep, Mystery Machine, Hanson Brothers, gob and Crankshaft
Plaza of Nations
Vancouver, B.C.
Saturday, April 12, 1997

Review by Alphonse Leong
Photography by Suzanne Goodwin

Recall a ten-hour-long show featuring nine bands? In 650 words or less? Wow, here goes:

Robbie Hanson First band Crankshaft, back from a year-long absence, had a loud, "crunchy" sound (to quote an audience member) and they were greeted warmly by the crowd. Energy and ability were more than present, and they made pogo-jumping an integral part of their set!

Mystery Machine bassist Gob had the teen set moshing and fervently crowd-surfing and chanting profanities on cue. This Ramones-like band has short, crisp numbers that really brought out the squeals from the crowd packed against the stage. Definitely possessing an "all-ages" aura, the band was manic, coarse, and, I suppose, the most enthusiastically-received group of the day.

Green Apple Quickstep bassist + hair The ultimate hockey fan's band, the Hanson Brothers sported scruffy team jerseys and played a high-decibel, driving set that included a catchy ode to street hockey that I'll call "Streetballer." These guys have a folksy charm and they should be Canada's house band!

You'd expect a lull at some point during an all-day event, and it occurred when Mystery Machine hit the stage. Their droning guitar songs had most of the crowd sitting with eyes glazed. The quartet performed dutifully, made a quiet announcement about a "new record coming out soon, hopefully" and closed with a cleanly-played Sinead O'Connor cover. They actually have some well-written songs; maybe it was just the post-lunch lethargy that afflicted the audience.

Pluto's Ian Jones The most musically accomplished band of the day, Green Apple Quickstep, showcased a powerful singer, real guitar solos, and a female bass player whose hair kept time perfectly! If all goes well, this five-piece from Seattle should make a big splash on the scene fairly soon, though the bassist seems to lack punch in her vocals (the sound mix may have been at fault here -- it was a little tricky all day).

Matthew Good The Super Friendz sounded incredibly sweet, as if they had studied every '64-'66 Beatles single religiously. Hearty accolades are due to guitarist/ vocalist Drew Yamada for contributing to a Fab Four-type harmony part and simultaneously changing a guitar string!

Pluto was the most poppy-sounding band of the day and they dressed the part: frontman Ian Jones wore what looked very much like a traditional black suit jacket -- an anomaly in this scruffy post-Nirvana age! They played a fun, sublime set that included "Black Lipstick" (that line, "My girlfriend is in a band, and I'm her number one fan!" always makes me smile!), "When She Was Happy" and the infectious guitar-driven set closer, "Paste."

Sloan Matthew Good Band positively glowed under a darkening sky, and the local heroes easily had the audience committed from the first song. A real highlight was their single, "Haven't Slept in Years," which, despite heavy play on C-FOX, was a welcome blast in the night air.

Sloan's Chris Murphy Maybe they just came at the end of a long day, but headliners Sloan appeared somewhat pretentious and peevish, especially when bassist Chris Murphy shouted out in the middle of a song, "Alright, you shitheads, you better stop that bodysurfing!" I wanted to shout back, "Lighten up!" Still, it's hard to get down on a band that performs lushly crafted songs with genuine flair. During "Coax Me," the band, bathed in ethereal crimson lighting, hit a stride that transcended any persnickity attitude.

Final observation: There was an amazing preponderance of girls in sleeveless attire during the evening hours. I'm an Edmonton escapee and had a thick jacket on, but, by the dinner hour, I was indoors between bands! There's just something in teenagers that makes them invincible...

First published in Drop-D Magazine on April 25, 1997

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