Review by Darren Gawle
Photography by Rodney Gitzel
Listening to South of Main is a bit like listening to someone's mix tape of the meat 'n potatoes of Canadian rock since 1980. Not that there aren't a few worthwhile Canadian meat n' potatoes bands -- the Doughboys, or 54-40, say -- but it means you're fucked if you've a hankering for Sashimi. And, ultimately, the more bands that turn this well-beaten path into a muddy rut, the faster the Kids are going to abandon guitar rock altogether. To their credit, S.O.M. display an above-average proficiency with their instruments, and they sing their harmonies in key, but even the familiarity of a cover of the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme fails to capture the crowd's attention, and it's even more painful for those of us who remember the Hüsker Dü version. South of Main's sound remains rooted in the perpetual here and now, going nowhere fast.
Bossanova's sound is that of the perpetual dead and buried, with the corpses of every late-sixties AM radio track and those 'whatever happened to...' Pebbles and Highs in the Mid-Sixties garage band compilations all gussied up for breakfast. What prevents Bossanova from being run out of town on a rail is that frontman Chris Storrow is the best songwriter Vancouver has produced since the days of the Collectors and the Poppy Family. Bar none.
And so, with the foundations of cracking tunes laid with the likes of "Mysterious Female Bass Player" and "Echo is My Name," Bossanova make the prospect of french-kissing the carcass of the Left Banke not such a bad thing after all. Again, though, the size of the stage presents its myriad problems (i.e., the 200 ways it's too damn small), with half Bossanova's keyboard section in the audience and Storrow confined to wearing Ray-Bans for the only theatrical effect there seems room for. Bossanova in Best Band in Vancouver shocker? You heard it here first...
Dead Model Shoot are another band who've got all the right ingredients for a critical drubbing yet escape unscathed. A singer that sounds like Morrissey, music that writes "we're fans of the Cure, Bauhaus and the Chameleons, us" in hundred foot-high letters across the sky, and the ubiquitous chorus/digital delay guitar sound common to any band who'd score highly if Jeopardy had a category called "British bands 1984-88" -- these are the things Dead Model Shoot is made of. That, and a touch of... well, refinement. They certainly have the slick look that eludes Gene, and a general way of deporting themselves that suggests that they've grown beyond the 'maybe if I stand within fifty feet of her she'll notice me' teen angst attitude of most other Smiths soundalikes.
In other words, Dead Model Shoot have the chutzpah it takes to maybe keep your mind from dwelling on just how derivative they may be. And certainly the Shoot's singer has a few issues to deal with that up the ante for those who think that having a crush on someone way out of their league somehow puts them on an equal footing with Morrissey: "My right-wing mates don't know I'm a fag," he sings, as the midnight shift from Pacific Press walks in for their one a.m. beer break. And, by the end of the set, even the union typesetters are applauding.
So, in the end, Dead Model Shoot are the local-band-of-the-year for those whose tastes in music don't normally stray from the U2-REM axis [ed. Donít be breaking up that quote, OK?]; and, for the rest of us, at least there's a band in its own right lurking behind the flange pedals.
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