Come on Baby, Light Me on Fire

Hey, how'd he get that in here? Edgefest '98
with Bif Naked, Holly McNarland, Econoline Crush, Sloan, Foo Fighters, Green Day, the Tea Party, Copyright, Local Rabbits, the Killjoys, the Matthew Good Band, Creed, the Watchmen
UBC Thunderbird Stadium
Vancouver, B.C.
Saturday, July 11, 1998

Review by Dorothy Parvaz
Photography by Todd Duncan

a Killjoy "Aw geez, look at all these people..."

So I was at the Calgary Stampede, er, I mean, Edgefest (although, the Stampede was going on at the same time... coincidence?), in the middle of a herd, I mean, crowd, making my way to the rodeo grounds, ah, make that the concert grounds...

Due to some delays in getting into the show, I missed Copyright altogether. Can't really complain, though. The parking was free (attaboys!) and the show ran like the Führer's train schedule.

Matthew Good Got in just in time to see Bif Naked coo and scream about her daddy getting married. Compact and loud, Naked strutted across stage, waving her tattooed arms around. Although I've never been a fan, I gotta say, the lady puts on a decent live show. She really seems to have a connection with the audience -- who for some reason seem to think she's a hard-core punk. Of course, a great deal of them were prepubescent and were dressed like little raver-pixies.

Matthew Good's bassist The only thing that rubbed me the wrong way about Naked's set was the song "Choatie." Now, I hope that I'm misinterpreting that song somehow, but it sounds as though she's explaining why she had to get rid of her baby -- whether she gave it up for adoption or had it aborted, I'm not sure. I don't find the song unsettling for political purposes, the narrator of the song (I don't even know if it's autobiographical) did what she had to do. What seemed sort of psychotic is watching Naked sing that song with utmost glee, smiling from ear to ear. Whoo-hoo! I had to get rid of my baby! Rock and roll! Hmm.

Econoline Crush So then Bif's set was over and all you had to do was walk 20 feet and you'd be in a great spot for the Local Rabbits on the second, er, I mean, "Radio" stage. The Rabbits were by far the most interesting act of the day. The boys from Montreal played all of four songs, but Jesus were they good. There's this loud guitar thing they've got going, sort of a Sonic Youth/Dino Jr. hybrid. But they definitely have their own sound. Muscle guitar one minute, bluesy country the next. And those vocals. Ben Gunning and Peter Elkas share and swap the singing/guitar duties with mucho flair. The set was waaaay too short for my liking...

They should've bumped Creed off the bill and given the Rabbit boys more time. No, this ain't chronological, but I might as well get them out of the way. Creed suck. The thing about them (besides the fact that they're laughably bad) is that Sloan you can actually sing Pearl Jam lyrics to just about any of their songs. I mean, this shit is old, and Creed don't even do a good job of it. Appropriately, this is when I noticed the plane flying overhead pulling a "Blow Yer Load With Metallica Sept. 4" banner. Nice.

Holly McNarland was up on the main stage and, yeah, I dig her voice, but there just wasn't enough adrenaline in her set to make it fit in with an all-day rock fest. Okay, the part where she encouraged the crowd to go kick the crap out of CFOX's mascot was pretty cool.

Sloan guitarist The Killjoys next bounced their way through their set on the second stage. The cool thing about them was that, although they have a new disc out, they didn't use this chance to ram it down everyone's throat (in other words, they did play their old hit, "Today I Hate Everyone," a song near and dear to my heart). They really weren't anything special though. Just white boy rock, kind of like the Matthew Good Band. Ah, have you heard their two CDs and heard their big hits on the FOX? Well, that's pretty much all there was to this set. The band sounds exactly like they do on their recordings. Which isn't bad, just a bit dull. I mean, even the band members themselves looked a little bored. The thing that really works for me? The "aw" Matthew adds at the end of the "I'm indestructible" line.

Dave Grohl Sandwiched between the Killjoys and MGB were Econoline Crush -- on the main stage, of course. Were these guys always this dull? [ed. No, actually. But that was a lot of years ago...] Yeah, I know, the audience seemed to be getting into it -- there were some people moshing or something up front (and they got told off for it, go figure), but man, these guys sound so unremarkable. This is pretty much the point in the day when it became clear just how schizo this festival was. I've never seen so many people in Tool t-shirts (I counted 23) getting down to glam rock. Maynard would be livid. Or not. Maybe religion isn't the opiate of the masses, but sedate rock songs about... wait, what are Econoline Crush's songs about anyway?

the Watchmen's bassist Before I could have too much fun with Marxism, Sloan were up on stage. I wish I could really comment on their set, but I was off somewhere, constructing an ark from nothing but Coke cups and empty rum bottles. (Yeah, security did a great job searching bags, by the way. You coulda walked in with Chris Murphy's severed head in your bag and they wouldn't have noticed.) See, it started pouring pretty much the second Sloan came on stage. Hard. Which is too bad, because I've seen these guys play before and they're quite something. Oh, they did alright. They even had a bit of fun with "Money City Maniacs" (they jumped into BTO's "Taking Care of Business" for a while there), but a massive, soggy outdoor venue really isn't the best place to see Sloan.

Daniel Greaves of the Watchmen I was beginning to fall into a soggy coma by the time the Foo Fighters hit the stage, but, goddamn, Dave Grohl's belching sure woke me up. All hair and snarling teeth, Grohl lead his band into an awesome, high-octane kind of set. Right about then, the crowd really began to go insane -- there were random articles of clothing flying everywhere over the moshing crowd. A pair of jeans here, a combat boot there. The band played songs off both their albums (goddamn that "Everlong" song is beautiful) before tossing free fudgesicles at the crowd (how'd that ice-cream vendor end up on stage?) and setting a small fire on stage to finish off their set.

Green Day's Billie Joe The promoters shouldn't have scheduled the Watchmen after the Foo Fighters. No sir. Vocalist Daniel Greaves has a nice voice which held up nicely during an a cappella number, but the sad thing about the band is that as good as Greaves voice is, the songs are just kind of dull. They need to find their own sound.

Everyone was meanwhile rushing towards the main stage, and I'm pretty sure they were just positioning themselves for Green Day, those no-good, cussing, spitting, trouser-dropping hooligans -- thank God someone still remembers how to entertain an audience! They pulled heaps of stunts during their 50-minute set: Billie Joe pulled some guy from the audience to play guitar with them, poked fun at Marilyn Manson, Green Day's Mike played a little Black Sabbath, covered Op Ivy and danced around in a leopard print G-string. Oh yeah, and they also set their stuff on fire (not to be out-done by the Foo Fighters) and tossed marshmallows into the audience.

I kept hoping for that the stage would burn down so that Tea Party wouldn't get to go on, but no such luck. They took the stage and frontman Jeff Martin joked about how they couldn't afford to set their equipment on fire, so instead they'd just lead us into "Temptation." The only thing he lead us into was a mass exodus. Oh sure, Tea Party fans stuck around (along with those too drunk and/or stoned to drive home just yet), but the start of this final set signaled the end of the show for most. By the time the band played "Psychopomp," the rain had stopped, but so what?

Dunno what it is about the Tea Party, but they just don't do it for me. They're like a Doors cover band, playing at half speed, which makes me wonder if the Tea Party were playing last because they were the headliners or because organizers knew the band would provide a mellow pace for the exiting crowd...

First published in Drop-D Magazine on December 5, 1998

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