Freako Goes (Music) West

Music West passes Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Music West and Music Waste '96
Vancouver, B.C.
May 2-5, 1996

Text by P. Freako
Photography by Suzanne Goodwin

Mornin'. Excuse me while I clean the sleep out of my eyes. Okay, that's better. Now what was I going to talk about...oh ya! Music West. I managed to catch a few bands last weekend, so if you would please permit me, I'd like to tell you about what I managed to see. Ahhh yes, I remember it well, that fateful Thursday, it was a dark and stormy! That's a passage from "The Hardy Boys Trade Kinky Underwear With Nancy Drew at the Laundromat." Sorry!!

Hissy Fit Anyway, I've got my wristband and my media weasel pass, and I'm off to the races...or, in this case, Music West and Music Waste. It's Thursday night, and after eating Greek food and consequently enough garlic to gag all of those around me, I ventured out into the public. Samoo's Pub was the first stop to catch Hissy Fit, who were part of Music Waste. Now in all fairness, their set was plagued with technical difficulties, and they've been playing live for only about a month, but they put forth the old college try, playing a loud aggressive set of modern rock tunes. The lead singer appeared to be a... hmmm... I hate to say it... a Courtney Love wannabee. She had the howl, the look and the dress to do it. Unfortunately her voice didn't appear to be able to offer much more than the aforementioned howling. Hissy Fit had a couple of cool songs with some strong guitar work, but overall they just didn't do it for me. Their name seemed fitting for the bass player, who, tired of receiving feedback through the monitors started to pout and at one point he mouthed "%#@!@! You" to the sound man. I was waiting for him to jump off stage and attack, but it didn't happen. For a new band, it actually wasn't toooo bad and who knows, maybe the garlic threw them off... leading me to believe that they might be vampires.

Cathode Ray Fleeing Samoo's, I wandered over to the Hungry Eye, where it's usually a good bet you can find a couple of vampires. The lead singer of Cathode Ray had earlier handed me a flyer promoting his band's show, so I said to myself, "self, you should go down there." And I did...unfortunately. Cathode Ray is kind of a soul, bluesy, quirky folk rock outfit. I will tell you that that the singer didn't have any soul, leading me to believe he might be a vampire too, and that the backup vocalist should have been the singer. She had a great voice and sang with passion... when she sang. The band just didn't spark any emotion into their set and, hey, as a result they didn't spark much reaction from the small gathering in attendance.

Where next? The Town Pump to catch The Ottoman Bigwigs. Hailing from Seattle, and fueled by drums, bass, acoustic guitar and clever vocal harmonies, this trio danced and strummed away, putting forth an entertaining, energetic show. This is one of those bands you have to be in the mood to see. Their acoustic-driven, lyric-based playful style may not please those ready to rock, but if your mind is open and feeling artsy (and I say artsy in a good way), then they are fun to see, and hey, you won't be moshing, but you will be dancing. I liked 'em, and I'd definitely go see them again.

Zuckerbaby I was hoping this would be a turning point. After a disappointing start, I had finally seen a band that I liked. One question still plagued me however, "Where are the crowds?" That question was quickly answered as I climbed the stairs of the Gastown Music Hall. I caught the last song of a band called The Emptys and it was filled with distortion and artistic feedback and weirdness, and I liked it. It's too bad I missed them because apparently they had "some tubular device that made all these weird sounds." Next time. Calgary's Zuckerbaby were next to play and they were excellent; just ask the large group of fellow Calgarians in the audience, if you want a second opinion. Their guitar-filled alternarock style accompanied by melodic, emotional vocals was soothing to listen to, even with its rock edge. Radiohead-esque at times perhaps. Zuckerbaby delivered a great set with equally great stage presence and were the highlight of the night to this point.

Deciding finally to end my night fending off more evil vampires, I caught the bus down Powell St. empowered with garlic beer breath knowing that I would awake Friday morn' proud that I had saved Music West from the evil vampire invasion.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

First published in Drop-D Magazine on May 12, 1996

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