Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A short hiatus and thank you

Hello blog readers and Google searchers,

Thank you for your amazing support of earbuds & ticket stubs throughout the past 2 years. This is not a goodbye; however, the only contributor and webmaster -- myself -- has to focus on entrance exams, applications for graduate schools and scholarship deadlines through the fall and winter. In 2011, I will be traveling extensively. Any blog posts right up until fall of 2011 will be few and brief.

If you are a promoter or artist looking for a show or album review, please forward your requests to one of the other fine contributors at North by East West or any of the fine blogs on my Friends page.

However, the blog will not be completely dormant. The ticket stubs page will still be relatively well-stocked with amazing shows in Vancouver, and I'll still be updating my inventory of attended live shows. Please do check them out and say hi if you see me around and I can tell you all about the exciting field of clinical psychological research. And of course, there's always Twitter.

with much thankfulness and love,


Thursday, September 9, 2010

RECAP : Live at Squamish Festival - Day 2

After a night of camping and air mattress-aided sleep, it's time for Day 2!
Read about Live at Squamish Day 1 here.

Brenda: We got to the festival grounds just as the first notes of You Say Party’s “There Is XXXX (Within My Heart)” sailed through the air. Although the sound set up was rocky in the beginning, the crowd soon could hear Becky Ninkovic’s warm, gritty voice alongside her bandmates’ accompaniment.

You Say Party (photo: Brenda Lee)
Alex: This was the start of what proved to be a triumphant return. They sounded great as they broke into old favourites and brought the first dance party of day two. Three new songs were played consecutively in the middle of the set. The one that really stood out to me was named “Flaming,” which had a really strong beat, fast pace and just made moving your feet irresistible.

Brenda: I really liked another one of the new tracks named “Enchantress of the Light.” Which aptly describes Becky Ninkovic’s stage persona; she’s enchanting. As a consummate frontwoman, it’s hard to take your eyes off of her.

Alex: She charmed the crowd as usual with many people shouting their love for her and the band. She came down to the front barricade meet with the crowd and finish their set on a more personal level. If the new songs are any indication I think we’re in store of a fantastic third album from You Say Party.

Brenda: After You Say Party wrapped up their set, I wasn’t paying much attention to the stage until Cape Town’s Civil Twilight stole my attention with their orchestral, operatic rock. Vocalist and pianist Steven McKellar had a phenomenal voice with impressive range (and falsetto). One friend commented that their sound is reminiscent of Radiohead, I said Muse, and another mentioned Massive Attack. Perhaps the latter comparison was the most apt, as Civil Twilight soon burst into a cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop.” If the increasingly larger apt crowd was any indication, I wasn’t the only new fan that Civil Twilight made that day.

Alex: Vancouver favourites Mother Mother then took the stage to a warmed up crowd, playing up their unique synchronized vocals. There was a stronger guitar presence than usual, with Ryan Guldemond featured prominently, especially in the new songs they played. These new tracks sound more straight-up rock than their previous releases.

Mother Mother (photo: Alex Cameron)
Brenda: Can’t forget about the ladies of Mother Mother though. Jasmin Parkin, the newest addition to the band on vocals and keys, has really stepped up to the plate vocally. Her belting voice is a nice complement to Molly Guldemond’s higher, more nasally voice.

Mother Mother’s set was nearly equally split between new material and tracks from their previous two albums Touch Up and O My Heart. A new album is surely not far from being released. For a sample of one of their new-ish songs “Simply Simple,” check out this video from the Olympics in February.

Alex: The crowd on the second day loved what the main stage was offering. It remained packed as Tokyo Police Club started into their set. These guys have gotten a pretty strong following especially after having opened for Weezer. The crowd exploded into cheers and adulations as they started off with single “Your English is Good.”

Kuba Oms with Velvet (photo: Alex Cameron)

Brenda: Over at the Serf stage, Kuba Oms & Velvet were playing a headlining set. We arrived just as fellow Peak Performance Project finalists Adaline and Kyprios were performing an improvisational piece alongside Oms and his very competent band.

Alex: Kuba Oms plays a type of funk-infused rock. Being unfamiliar with both his and Velvet’s music, I couldn’t tell how much of the influence was reciprocal. 

But enough of the laid back vibe. We headed to the clubZone stage to get our blood flowing again. Tom Middleton from the UK was spinning on stage, and although his music sounded a bit repetitive at times, it was still a really strong DJ set.

Brenda: The internationally adored DJ had a surprisingly strong stage presence, often punctuating his tracks with comments about the crowd. We got there just as he announced “random hour” and proceeded to sample “Insane in the Membrane” and Jackson 5, just to name a few.

The Decemberists (photo: Alex Cameron)
Alex: Live at Squamish Fest did a great job including not only the more alternative rock crowd but also the DJ beat-loving crowd. The Decemberists then finished off the night at the main stage after Bad Religion. To me, they sound a lot like a slightly more rocking Weakerthans.

Brenda: Either way, seeing people moshing and crowd surfing to The Decemberists was still a strange sight.

For more photos from Live at Squamish, check out my Flickr.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

RECAP : Live at Squamish Festival - Day 1

Join us at our proverbial table as we discuss our highlights of this year's inaugural Live at Squamish music festival, which took place on September 4-5, 2010. Alex (of Anders) Cameron and myself, together with a couple of other friends, spent a lovely weekend up in Squamish, B.C., just half an hour outside of Whistler and an hour from downtown Vancouver.

Alex: After much anticipation, Labour Day weekend finally hit, meaning it was time to head up to Squamish for the inaugural year of Live at Squamish. What struck me first of all was the setting; Hendrickson Field and the Logger Sports Grounds are surrounded by forest on all side with the mountains across the background.

Brenda: The mountains truly were spectacular and added wonder to the enjoyment of musical acts. Almost all of the performers commented on what a pleasure it was to play at this little jewel of a festival, nestled in the outdoor sports capital of BC.

Alex: Boasting three stages, the festival grounds felt split into separate areas with one focal stage on Henderickson Field, a club stage in the middle of the logger grounds and another smaller performance stage, each with its own beer garden. Although a little spread out, the stage setup worked really well, leading to practically no amp battles between performances.

Brenda: I’m not one to worry about the presence of beer gardens, especially with the usual over-inflated festival pricing. However, the various bazaars and art displays in between the stages meant you can always give your ears a rest and treat your eyes instead.

Alex: Kostaman and the Good Vibrations was the first band we caught at the main stage, a reggae band from Whistler, BC.

Said the Whale (Photo: Alex Cameron)
Brenda: They got many locals to get up and shake their thing, so we knew we had to represent “our scene” once Vancouver locals Said the Whale took to the stage right after.

Alex: These guys just get better all the time. They brought plenty of people up to the front of the stage (without our help) and got this festival to start moving. It’s always fun to see a crowd cheer that little bit harder when they start up "Camillo (the Magician)."

After moving stages to catch Kelowna’s We Are the City, we ended up listening to the end of Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s set. Fitzgerald is a singer-songwriter from Calgary and his music is infectious, I wish I could have caught more of his set. There was an amazing and hilarious mash-up of covers from Sir Mix-A-Lot to TLC to Black Eyed Peas… and even a little Justin Bieber. He finished up his set with “Brand New Spaces,” a song of his I’m familiar with, and it was definitely a strong finish. A really talented musician and I can’t wait to see more from him.

(L-R) Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, David Vertesi and Zach Gray (photo: Brenda Lee)
Brenda: As a testament to the rapport between musicians, he had Zachary Gray from The Zolas and David Vertesi of Hey Ocean! on stage to act as lovely back-up dancers.

Now onto We Are the City, one of my favourite young bands. Their growth astounds me and every time I catch them live, they manage to improve upon their last performance. As their prog-rock styling is already so well-developed and they’re so attuned to one another on stage, it’s hard to imagine what the band will be like once guitarist David Menzel leaves the band. David revealed to me that the band’s intense touring schedule post their 2009 Peak Performance Project win is not sustainable for him in the long run, and expressed a desire to start a guitar company.

We Are the City (photo: Alex Cameron)
Alex: We Are the City really owns the stage when they start pumping out the rock; every note is played with such enthusiasm and enjoyment that you can feel they’re loving every second of playing. After such an amazing year for them, I’m surprised to hear that David is leaving the band.

Hollerado (photo: Alex Cameron)
Brenda: After that set, we caught a couple of songs by Calgary's The Dudes who were playing on the main stage. Although enticed by the party atmosphere as evident in the amount of crowd surfers and one guy holding a sign saying “fun patrol,” I had to catch Ottawa’s Hollerado’s headlining set to close out the Serf stage. (They also have the best website ever.)

Alex: The Dudes are awesome but play somewhat mellow compared to Hollerado’s set… and that says something!
Steve Smith of Dirty Vegas (photo: Leigh Elridge)

Brenda: They put on what was easily one of the best (and most enjoyable!) performances of the entire weekend. Not only did they play hits such as “Juliette,” they rocked some awesome covers as well. If you haven’t seen Hollerado live yet, do yourself a favour and remedy that soon. By the end of that set, our feet were in a shuffling and dancing mood. I was itching to dance!

Alex: Matthew Good then took to the main stage, but it was just a little too mellow at that point. So we headed over to the clubZone stage for London house artist Dirty Vegas' live set; they really had the crowd pumped up and it was one of the best DJ sets I’ve seen!

Devo (photo: Leigh Elridge)
Brenda: Hits such as “Days Go By” had the crowd throbbing and kept us warm as the sun went down and the chill set in at dusk. This indie rock kid relearned what it’s like to dance; thanks Dirty Vegas!

Alex: Finally it was time for Devo, whom played a hilarious set of ironic synth pop in their classic 80’s style. Couple this with strange costumes and mostly hilarious visuals on the backing screen, it felt almost like memes waiting to happen.

Brenda: They had more energy than I would have expected. Unfortunately, their set went on for about 5 songs too long. As the rain started drizzling and the strobe lights spazzed on, it was hard to keep the crowd engaged. Oh, but the wonders of seeing “Whip It” live… that’s one check mark on my bucket list!

And next, stay tuned for our thoughts on Day 2 of Live at Squamish featuring You Say Party, Mother Mother and many more!

Broken Social Scene announces re-issue of K.C. Accidental recordings

Before there was Broken Social Scene, there was K.C. Accidental. The lo-fi bedroom recordings of BSS’s founder/vocalist/guitarist Kevin Drew and multi-instrumentalist/studio mastermind Charles Spearin, K.C. Accidental – a mostly post-rock instrumental project –laid the foundation for the Toronto collective’s sprawling expanse in the form of two self-released albums made at the end of the 90s: Captured Anthems For An Empty Bathtub and Anthems For The Could’ve Bin Pills.

Because they were self-released, traded amongst friends and hidden in the pockets of Toronto’s independent record stores, these two albums have been out of print for five years and have never been available outside of Canada. This fall, Arts & Crafts will be reissuing these seminal recordings in one package on October 26th in 2-LP, 2-CD and digital formats. Fan club members can pre-order the album right now and on Oct 26th you will also receive a bonus unreleased digital track.

Track Listing:
captured anthems for an empty bathtub // anthems for the could've bin pills

1. nancy and the girdle boy
2. something for chicago
3. anorexic he-man
4. save the last breath for me
5. kev's message for charlie
6. tired hands
7. instrumental died in the bathtub and took the daydreams with it
8. residential love song
9. silverfish eyelashes
10. ruined in 84
11. them (pop song #3333)
12. is and of the

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NEW VIDEO : Black Mountain - "The Hair Song"

Nicely done, skater boy. Vancouver's Black Mountain releases the music video for "The Hair Song," which hails from their upcoming album Wilderness Heart (September 14). Hmm... wilderness, that's apt. Be amongst the first to pre-order the album and you'll get it autographed too.

A few tour dates below.

October 31, 2010 Toronto, ON - The Phoenix
November 1, 2010 Montreal, QC - La Tulipe
November 30, 2010 Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom