Who says there is no scene here?
I don’t get it… everyone I meet tells me there is no scene for loud music in Vancouver, yet my mind is constantly blown by the support in this city. Lemme tell you about Friday night.
Quebec heroes Grimskunk were playing at The Cellar, and my desire to hear some proper Quebecoise (Radio Canada sounds like a bunch of College students who went to French Immersion in Twattawa) secured my plans for the night. I had a few concerns however… I know they tour Europe all the time, and obviously they are huge at home but how does a very Quebec band go over in the rest of Kanada? Not only that, but the show was the same night as Mr Chi Pig’s 50th birthday party and SNFU were going to be performing at Funky’s. Ordinarily I would be first in line for an SNFU show, especially a hometown gig but I wasn’t gonna miss Grimskunk so I went hoping it wouldn’t be completely empty.
We got to the gig only to find out that they were playing second on a three band bill. Already different from home where they have headlined festivals in front of thousands. The first band was a good solid typical punk band, and apparently the headliners were some hip lesbian punk band. Considering there was another punk show going on I was pretty shocked to see how crowded the place was. I’ve said it before, I love the variety of beer available at shows here so the crew grabbed a round and got ready for the show. We went to check our coats and I got my first taste of suckmyballsbullshit from the Cellar. They charge per item, so if I have a coat and hoodie it’s gonna cost me six bucks for the thrill of standing in line. Out of defiance we chose to keep our coats with us for the set. Any club owner who imposes rules like that must still be dealing with not losing his virginity till his mommy told him it was ok after he finished breastfeeding in his mid twenties. Asshole.
Grimskunk kicked ass, although it was probably the shortest set I’ve seen them play. They were solid and tight like a well oiled machine. Quite a few ex-pats in the crowd – I assumed everyone with nasty dreadlocks was probably from St Foy. The way the stage was placed and hearing Vincent speak to the sound guy in Franglais made me feel like I was at the Terminal (there’s an old school reference for ya old farts at home!). My lady, who is very selective in her punk and metal, was extremely happy with them and still won’t stop telling her friends how “eclectic” they were.
After their set I was saying hi to the band when I got a text about the other gigs in the city… SNFU had packed their club, and Agnostic Front were about to hit the stage at the Rickshaw.
Live at CBGB is possibly the greatest live hardcore recording ever. I first saw Agnostic Front at La Brique in 1992 (there’s another one for the old farts) and have never missed the chance to see them ever since. The lady came out of the washroom ready to sip her Pilsner and get ready for the next band when my buddy and I informed her of the change of plans… she chugged her beer and we hopped in a cab only to realise that we didn’t know the address or directions of where we were going. Luckily we were able to use technology to find our way. I remembered the show being announced a few months before, and I remembered asking to be put on the guest list so i figured I could get us in. Even if not, I was so excited that i would be willing to pay for all three of us if need be. Besides, there were two more punk shows going on at the same time… the place would probably be empty.
We go there and the place was packed to the tits – it was Agnostic’s first show in Vancouver in ten years and I wasn’t the only one who needed to be there. My name wasn’t on the list but I pulled some Mike Metal skills, and bassist Mike Gallo made sure we all got in. I think my lady may have been the only female there, and our gang may have been the only people past the age of thirty but they killed it. The crowd was old-school hardcore insane. At one point the show had to stop because some poor dude got hurt really bad… when security carried him out it looked like they were holding the Gollum. You can tell when a band are road-veterans because they know what to do in these situations: put the show on hold, get the kid to an emergency room, then play a set of non-stop greatest hits to get the vibe back. It worked, and worked out great for me as well because the aforementioned lady was apparently not enjoying the adrenaline of nyc hardcore as much as I drunkenly assumed she would. We got to hear my favorites, have one last frothy amber beverage and enjoy a lovely walk home.
My question is this: If there is no punk and metal support in Vancouver, how are three separate shows sold out in one night? I remember a few months ago in Montreal when Dragonforce played the same night as Sepultura. Dragonforce attracted about seventeen people and Sepultura couldn’t hit the stage until midnight when everyone finally showed up. Vancouverites, you should be proud of what you’ve built here … except for the jerks who run coatcheck