For the past five years, BeatRoute has been a source of information, a way to discover new music, and a direct plug into Canadian culture. But now, thanks to Em Dobbin, it’s about to take on a whole new role: apparel.
When Dobbin left college after two unsatisfying years in the fashion production program, she was hoping that a career in fashion was still in her future. So when Sabrina Notte, her friend and owner of Déjà Vu Modeling, contacted Dobbin about the Faces West modeling convention in Vancouver, she knew this was her opportunity.
Notte was looking for a dress made out of newspapers and Dobbin was excited to get the chance to be involved in fashion again. After selling Notte on her proposal, Dobbin set out to create a dress entirely out of back copies of BeatRoute Magazine. She chose BeatRoute not only for the variety of colours and images, but also because of the positive impact that music has on our culture.
Friday, October 09, 2009
The Dudes just released their music video for "Girl Police" and in true Dudes fashion, she's a hit! Recorded over two days in Mission at "Bob's house," this video perfectly sums up one of Calgary's most fun and favourite rock bands.
Tonight the Dudes are playing in Calgary with Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and The Dojo Workhorse at MacEwan Hall (2500 University Dr. NW). Show starts at 7PM!
Tonight the Dudes are playing in Calgary with Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and The Dojo Workhorse at MacEwan Hall (2500 University Dr. NW). Show starts at 7PM!
Thursday, October 08, 2009
I've been listening to Post-Nothing, the Japandroid's debut album, almost non-stop since I saw them on Friday. I can't find any fan-filmed footage of their show at Le Divan Orange on the YouTubes, but this is close enough. This is my favourite song off the album, titled "Heart Sweats."
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The October 2009 issue of BeatRoute is now on the street in Alberta and BC.
West Coast readers make sure to look for your own copy throughout Greater Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo.
October AB features the only alternative radio station that matters, CJSW. This month the station is holding their annual funding drive and celebrating 25 years on the FM dial. If you've got any dough to spare, make sure to make a pledge on your favourite show!
October BC celebrates the second coming of the Jesus Lizard! Bif! Bam! YOW! Taking a break from Qui, frontman David Yow is giving new meaning to sloppy seconds as the band prepares to play at the Commodore on Oct. 24.
Thanks for reading!
Monday, October 05, 2009
This is not the Mars Volta in Montreal
After a festival, it is common to feel somewhat overwhelmed by music: seeing more bands than most people see in a month over the span of a single weekend can leave one feeling like they have overindulged in music. Perhaps some time in the wilderness, alone with buzzing ears, is the perfect way to reintegrate into normal society.
Or you can go to a Mars Volta concert. Sticking around for an extra day in Montreal — and missing two fantastic shows back in Calgary, Dan Mangan at the Marquee Room and the infamous Gogol Bordello at Mac Hall Ballroom — I was lucky enough to catch one of the Mars Volta's only Canadian dates on this leg of the tour.
The format of a Volta concert rarely changes: they let you know well in advance exactly when they'll be starting the show — 8:20 pm — and they don't fuck around with any opening bands or other theatrics. Instead, they come on stage, pick up their instruments, and ripple time and space for the next 100 minutes.
The stage was immaculately presented. There was enough room at the beautiful Metropolis to accommodate all six members of the immediate Volta family, and the stage itself was backed by a looming, Hindu-themed, tapestry. Once the show started, and the venue grew dark, the tapestry took on a life of its own: viciously, psychedelically, layered, the tapestry changed and morphed manically as different lights washed over it: purples would bring out a seeing-eye; greens would shimmer forth waves and patterns; reds shone pulsating, hooded, figures. The light show also had the effect of making the entire stage seem to undulate and groove, as if possessed by the very demons Cedric Bixler-Zavala, vocalist, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, guitars, tried to exorcise.
Even with great familiarity with the Mars Volta's catalogue, each song is a new, tantalizing treat: the songs on record are scarcely ever played as is. Instead, they are mere frameworks, points of reference, for the songs to take on new meaning and life under the rigors of a live performance. Opening with the band's first recorded songs, from 2003's De-Loused in the Comatorium, "Son et Lumiere" and "Inertiatic ESP" were macabre, gruesome affairs. The opening riff to "Son et Lumiere" in particular was to set the mood for the rest of the evening: haunting and chilling, worming its way into the consciousness of Rodriguez-Lopez's psyche, through his veins, and spilling out onto his guitar's frets with a psychotic, dream-like frenzy. He, too, seemed to shift shapes and styles, channelling Hendrix at times with fuzzed-out wah work, or shredding bluesy punk solos like Slash, always adding his own touch of psychedelic madness and disaster to the proceedings as he twisted and turned the guitar in his hands, wringing out every note with nerve-wracking energy.
Bixler-Zavala was similarly possessed. His stage antics, by now, are well known. He wails and yowls into his microphone as if he hardly knows where he belongs, as if quivering between dimensions, walking the razor-sharp tightrope that separates sanity from not. With a healthy dose of his steaming elixir — a fresh cup of what must have been tea was brought out with startling regularity — his vocal performance was flawless as he wrapped his voice around the microphone's head, slithering down the cord and out into the venue.
Not surprisingly, the set was heavy on material from the group's latest effort, Octahedron. Though the album was billed as their "electric acoustic album" — i.e. a softer, less frenetic effort — the songs were anything but. The band barely even tried to slow down even during the album's quietest moments, transforming songs like "Halo of Nembutals" into ghastly, ethereal productions. "Teflon" and "Cotopaxi" were both similarly treated. "Teflon" in particular moved at an other-worldly pace, it's main riff and chorus ("let the wheels burn/let the wheels burn/stack the tires to the neck/with the body inside") grooving like a sociopath awash in blue charisma. The only semblance of sense was kept in time — barely — by Thomas Pridgen, who completely dominated his drum kit. Sitting shirtless behind a cornucopia of cymbals, his arms flailed and thrashed with a reckless abandon for physics or anatomy, striking more beats and notes than reason deemed possible.
De-Loused was also well represented. Bixler-Zavala even took the time to break the fourth wall — a rare occurrence — to greet the audience and dedicate "Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)" to "everyone who believed in us from the very beginning. Everyone was pissed off when we broke up our old band, and very few people believed in us from the very beginning, when this was just an idea. This one is for those few people." "Cicatriz ESP" also made an appearance, stretching well past its recorded 12-minute mark to duck down a rabbit hole.
The set drew to a close with a beautifully understated bass solo by Juan Alderete. At times grooving to Mars Volta themes, and at times using the upper registers of his four-string like Cliff Burton on "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth," he worked feedback and rumbling notes to great effect, creating a wash of deep notes that thundered through the audience's soles. As the theme circled around the conclusion, alluding to the next song, Bixler-Zavala took his place once more at the helm of his white microphone.
"He's got fasting black lungs," he sung.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
The Second Night
I found myself slightly lost last night. Unlike my previous stints at Pop Montreal, I had no idea what to see last night. There was no one band that immediately caught my attention, no one band around which I would schedule my entire evening. Faced with this unknowable quantity, I perused the Pop Montreal booklet, looking for bands that, on paper, seemed interesting. It would be a night of random discovery, to say the least.
Of course, as they say, even the best laid schemes of mice and men can go awry. We decided to head way up to Mile End to the Ubisoft space to catch what was going on there for Art Pop — including, we hoped, the room-sized theremin. After taking the metro all the way up to Beaubien, Alex and I emerged on the streets, trying to orient ourselves and walk in the right direction. By then, it was cold, rainy and dark, and, in our altered state, we began to walk — the wrong way.
After finally re-calibrating our direction, we find ourselves walking through an empty warehouse district, drawn to the only building with colourful lights. We had finally made it to Art Pop, but, once again, our plans were foiled — we were too early for anything.
Faced with a decision, we decided to make our way over to Quai des Brumes, where Calgary's own Sub-linguals would be playing at 10pm. By the time we walked over there, it was closer to 10:30. Expecting the worst, that the band would be wrapping up the set, we walked into an all but empty bar: the Sub-linguals had canceled their set because they had problems making it out to Montreal.
Remaining unfazed, we took the door girl's advice and went next door, to L'Escogriffe, where Rich Aucoin was playing. It was a gamble, and certainly not my style of music, but the white-clad quartet from Halifax proved to be an entertaining way to spend the next hour. Taking the huddled stage at one end of the bar, with barely enough room to pack in keys, drums and a bass, Rich Aucoin presented an experimental project in visual electro-pop. Inspired by the synchronization of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Wizard of Oz, Aucoin created a soundtrack for the original How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The visuals and sound did not complement each other perfectly at times, but the music was certainly catchy and Aucoin managed to get the 30 or so patrons in the bar dancing in the limited space.
After that, Alex and I were feeling the effects of getting lost high up in the Plateau, so we based our next venue on location alone: walking over the St Laurent, we hit up the closest bar, Club Lambi, where a band called Lemonade was supposed to take the stage at 11pm. Of course, they were late. The Brooklyn outfit sashayed on about 20 minutes late, and brought their bizarre drum and bass-driven garage pop music to a mostly empty club. As a way to kill some time, it was appropriate, but their performance was not compelling enough to warrant too much attention.
Continuing to work our way back down St Laurent, we headed towards Les 3 Minots, where Vancouver punk rockers Carpenter would be playing. Once we made it to the new venue, it became evident that all aspirations to timeliness were fruitless: Jon McKiel was just finishing up their quiet set, but as the new band set up, there was a strange absence of full stacks and electric guitars. As a solo artist took the stage, clad in a tight black t-shirt and gelled back hair, he begun to strum a guitar "as old as [his] mother" — which, like his mother, he joked, he was having troubles tuning last night. Greg MacPherson had switched time slots with Carpenter, and the Winnipeg native certainly surprised a few in attendance. His beat up guitar straddled the line between folk and rockabilly, and his songs — inspired by the prairie and isolation — rang with an earnest honesty.
He doesn't cradle his mom this way...Alex and I had to step outside for a quick breather halfway through MacPherson's set, which turned out to be a bout of lucky timing. As soon as I slouched up against the rainy wall, someone complemented my Battle Snakes t-shirt, saying that he, too, knew the band. I asked him if he had heard them in Vancouver, or if he knew Matt Snakes from his former band, BOGART, in Calgary. Daniel Sioui, lead singer and guitarist for Carpenter, said that he knew them from Vancouver, that they were friends.
This is really the best part of festivals: sure, there's always the "once-in-a-lifetime" show to go see, or the indie cache of seeing a band in a basement afterhours, but, for me at least, the best part is interacting with people, fans and bands on the street between sets. I asked Sioui why they weren't on just yet, and he explained how MacPherson wanted to go on a bit earlier. I also gamely inquired about the apparent lack of instruments. Sioui said that he had just made it into Montreal, but the rest of the band had decided to stay in Vancouver: they were preparing for a headlining tour across Canada, and it didn't make sense to come all the way out to Montreal for a one-off date, not when they'd be back in two weeks. Tonight, thus, would be a slightly different Carpenter set: just him, a friend (John Meloche, from This is a Standoff), and acoustic guitars. "I'm terrified, man," he told me, "I've never played an acoustic show before. I don't know whether I should play louder, more punk rock, or softer, more indie," he confided, thinking out loud to himself.
With not a little apprehension, then, he took the stage with Meloche. Immediately, it became apparent that he could not shed his rock and roll roots: introducing himself as part of Carpenter, he tore into his first songs with intensity, despite that he was sitting on a stool strumming his acoustic — a rare position for him on stage. Howling into the mic ("It's weird," he commented between songs, "I'm not used to having people hear what I can sing."), he played a string of Carpenter songs that seemed entirely different without the benefit of distortion. With Meloche filling in some lead guitar work — which he had just learned on Thursday — the duo made quick work of their half-hour set. It might not have been the Carpenter everyone was expecting, but it was certainly no disappointment.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
The First Night
Although Pop Montreal officially started on Wednesday, September 30, last night was my first night of the festival. After landing in Montreal at 7 am, taking the bus into downtown, and spending most of the morning sleeping in the McGill Student Centre, I was ready to start planning my day. There were a couple of shows I knew were to be the big draws of the night — Surfjan Stevens and Japandrois — but part of the beauty of a festival like this is in discovery, in finding new bands and going in fresh.
With that in mind, Alexander Churchill, my photographer, and myself headed down to the rock club on St Catherine, Foufounes Electriques (which translates to Electric Buttocks, as I've been informed) for a nasty, grimy performance of local quartet Demon's Claws.
I had been drawn to them because of their description in the Pop Montreal booklet: "The balancing act between historically in-tune and ass-kicking garage rock is made to seem as effortless as dropping LSD." We arrived shortly after their set had begun, and we walked into the dimly, very dimly, lit room on the second floor, where, on what almost seemed like a makeshift stage tucked at one end of the room. The quartet played a racuous set, heavily steeped in the traditions of '60s garage rock with more modern indie sensibilities. Most interestingly, the lead singer played his semi-hollow guitar without a pick, which lent their sound a softer, rounder quality, rather than the angular mess these affairs tend to be. On his left, the bassist was highly mobile, goose-stepping up and down the neck with bouncy enthusiasm.
We had to leave the set early in order to make it up the Plateau in time for the Coathangers' set at Le Divan Orange. Walking up the rain slicked St Laurent, however, we were tempted by the host of other venues dotting the boulevard — an entire spectrum of sounds, bands and ideas poured out through open doors and everyone seemed to be talking about what they were watching, what they had just seen, and where they were going next.
When we finally made it Le Divan Orange, a sign on the door announced that the show was sold out. Luckily, some creativity let us in, just in time for the Coathangers to start their set. I had first seen them at Sled Island earlier this year, opening for These Arms Are Snakes at the Distillery, and their live show this time was everything I remembered it to be. The female quartet from Georgia seem to transcend their recorded material, and it all unravels on stage. Talking to Minnie Coathanger, bassist, after the show, huddled under an awning to avoid the rain, she joked about her inspiration for madness: "I just think, 'I hate my dad, I hate my dad,' " she laughed, snuggling into Rusty Coathanger's, drums, plush, leopard-print jacket. "Actually, we just drink a lot before the show."
Despite the girls' plans to go to another bar to meet up with friends, like everyone else, they stuck around. As the narrow venue continued to swell to capacity — the air becoming more stifling and laden with body heat, sweat and booze — as No Gold, from Vancouver, took the stage. The trio played a slightly subdued set, especially sandwiched between the Coathangers and Japandroids, but it was a great opportunity to catch our breaths and bob our heads along.
The venue was, undoubtedly — despite some drunk guy's vocal opinion — sold out because of the headliners, Japandroids. By the time No Gold finished their set, it was almost impossible to move around in the venue, and most everyone in attendance seemed to be vibrating with anticipation. The duo have been touring around celebrating the release of their debut album, Post-Nothing.
Watching Brian, guitars and vox, begin the set, awash in delayed, distorted, chorused chords, while Dave fiddled around his kit, making the final adjustments, seemed nothing short of cinematic. A small stage fan had been set up next to the monitors to provide some ventilation, but Brian seemed to revel in the way it swept his hair away as he howled into the microphone.
Almost immediately, the dancing turned frenetic and bumpy, with a tiny pit opening up in which bodies could flail. The set was gloriously messy, and the Montreal crowd did everything possible to make sure the west coast band felt at home. Midway through the set, Brian leveled a challenge: as their merch guy climbed on stage, Brian told the crowd how Buffalo had held him up for three minutes the other night. It was up to us to beat them. As Brian strummed the building intro, their merch guy flung himself into the crowd, as if shot by the crashing crescendo. The audience was more than happy to rise to the challenge: arms held him high and proud — perhaps too high, as he bounced into the ceiling fan more than once — and floated him around the venue while Brian and Dave dismantled the stage.
As two in the morning rolled around, and the Japandroids' set came to a close, we were all drenched, exhausted and spent — mirroring how the band felt. Brian and Dave both had enormous grins plastered across their faces, and after the final note of their set was played, they managed to muster the energy for one last frenzy.