Summer Live: New Pornographers hungry, Said the Whale blow up
Punters were spoiled for choice at the second day of Summer Live. You could camp out at the main stage for the nighttime bill of Hannah Georgas, Neko Case, and the New Pornographers. Or you could stake your ground at the smaller Trail’s Edge stage for the closing two-shot of the Zolas and Said the Whale. Commuting between the two was difficult thanks to a perpetual bottleneck and overlapping schedules.
That tight little conduit connecting two fields at Brockton Point was the one thing anybody could have complained about, above and beyond the always stupid backward-bending it takes to get a beer in this city. But Summer Live was otherwise an admirably well run party, with plenty for the kids to do during the day, and an impressively switched-on musical menu that put the likes of Zapato Negro and Korsrud’s Drum and Light Orchestra in front of the size of crowd they deserve.
Most amazing was the Dubwise Afternoon set that invaded the Trail’s Edge stage for a whopping five hours of gut-punching bass and reefer niceness, coalescing with an incendiary Bad Brains–shaped collision of reggae and hardcore from Sorcerers. This was the perfect soundtrack to relentless sun and sweet dehydration, and the hippie chicks upped the ante big-time on all the twirling and devil-stick acrobatics for the 30 mind-fucking minutes that the band was up there.
When Hannah Georgas began her set around dinner hour, Brockton Oval shifted en masse to take its place in front of the main stage. Georgas seemed to feast on her spotlight moment, grinning her way through a set that really started to boil some four songs in with “Thick Skin”, followed by a raging take on “Dance Floor” that would have put the album version in the hospital. A new and pensive song called “The Waiting Game” also impressed, while Georgas herself easily walked off with the best outfit of the day; a blue and red striped dress that made her look like a roman candle.
Neko Case and her blazing-red hair also debuted some handsome new material in a 60-minute slot that otherwise featured favourites like “People Got a Lotta Nerve”, a devastating “Maybe Sparrow”, and an uppity “Hold On, Hold On” (written, she said, by “the Sadies of Toronto”). Case got a lot of mileage out of teasing hometown boy Paul Rigby, who kept to himself at the back of the stage while doing such acts of prestidigitation as pouring gruesome and wet guitar all over “Fever” and wafting clouds of dissonance at “The Pharaohs”. The latter wasn’t the biggest crowd-pleaser of the set, but close listeners had their minds blown.
“You’re gonna be so tired of me by the end of the night,” Case said before leaving, and then turning up again 20 minutes later to do her bit for the New Pornographers. The band in general seemed louder and a little hungrier than the last time they came to Stanley Park in the summer of 2008, with Blaine Thurier’s roller-rink keyboard part leaping out of opener “My Slow Descent Into Alcoholism”, and “The Laws Have Changed” getting some added whump from Thurier and guitarist Todd Fancey. Fancey also punctuated “Up in the Dark” with a far less polite guitar workout than the band is generally noted for.
Much as we wanted one, there was no encore. Meanwhile, over at the Trail’s Edge stage, Said the Whale was on its second bow of the night. Not only that, the local five-piece was busy trying to exercise some crowd control, asking an enormous and cheerfully rowdy audience not to crush each other, and then chilling everybody the fuck out with “Emerald Lake, AB”.
Tyler Bancroft and his bandmates seemed genuinely surprised at what greeted them when they hit the stage 55 minutes earlier, not to mention what they managed to lather up in the meantime. They shouldn’t have been. Vancouver seems to have opened its eyes to its own talent, and it only took 125 years.