Review by Alphonse Leong
Photography by Suzanne Goodwin
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!
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.
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.
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).
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."
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.
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...
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