This year was supposed to be different, in that there would finally be something to look forward to. And we’re not talking about the three hours of sunshine we usually get every fourth year during the third week of January.
No, this year, the big carrot at the end of the stick has been something called Family Day, the B.C. Liberals’ gift to everyone in the province who has ever been tempted to go postal over the lack of stat holidays between New Year’s Day and Good Friday.
That’s right: there’s no need to come to work this February 11. That’s Family Day, the funny thing being that, if you’re like us, your family will want nothing to do with you, seeing as you’ll still be six sheets to the wind from partying at Soundgarden at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre the night before.
As if that’s not enough punishment for the old liver, we’re going to be sitting down with Sailor Jerry around noon on Family Day to get primed for Marilyn Manson at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre later that night.
Because you know how we cope with the dog days of winter? That’s simple: by rocking our asses off at shows like the ones below. Try getting off the couch and joining us, and we’ll pretty much guarantee you’ll have every bit as much of a blast chasing away the winter blues, mostly because spending a night in the front row of a show is one hell of a lot more fun than hanging out with your family.
(February 10 at the Pacific Coliseum)
In the spotlight: Who the hell, non–EDM fans might be forgiven for asking, is Above & Beyond? The answer, of course, is one of the world’s biggest beat-based acts not named Skrillex or deadmau5. Both of whom, by the way, joined Above & Beyond in the top 10 of DJ Magazine’s 2012 Top 100 DJs poll.
Why you need to go: In case it’s not clear yet, electronic dance music has, over the past two years, blown up bigger than the circa-’78 Runaways in Japan. With a discography that looks like a Tokyo telephone book, Above & Beyond is one of the reasons why.
(February 10 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
In the spotlight: Ironically enough, given that every second American female wanted to sleep with singer Chris Cornell at the time, Soundgarden was voted the ugliest band in America by Sassy readers in the early ’90s. Perhaps they really meant the ugliest-sounding band in America, as the group’s ultra-mega-grungy 1991 landmark Badmotorfinger seemed unlistenable the first three times, and then absolutely indispensable the fourth.
Why you need to go: After disbanding with a whimper in 1997, Soundgarden made a cautious return to action in 2010 with a hometown club gig at Seattle’s Showbox. Three years later, and with the ’90s, like, totally hot right now, Cornell and company are back on the road, promoting a new album, King Animal, which is one hell of a lot less, um, ugly than positioning yourself as a heritage act happy to sweat to the oldies.
(February 11 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
In the spotlight: Hard as this is to believe today, there once was a time when Marilyn Manson was the scariest ghoul in America, and not just because he’d rage on in interviews about smoking crack cut with tic tacs and ground-up human bones. Even if he’s now about as terrifying as Alice Cooper, there’s still no denying that he puts on a spectacle that’s as much high-end Las Vegas as it is industrial rock ’n’ roll.
Why you need to go: Finding yourself bored at Marilyn Manson isn’t an option, primarily because the man born Brian Warner has spent the past decade showing us that, more than ever, he’s got something to prove. Despite being one of the Onion’s most famous punch lines, he still wants to be the bogeyman in your closet, croaking sweet nothings in the middle of the dark, dark night.
(February 18 at the Vogue)
In the spotlight: Comic-book-loving, epically minded punk-prog rockers who probably couldn’t be sicker of being compared to Rush and its helium-voiced frontman, Geddy Lee. With its latest, The Afterman: Ascension, Coheed and Cambria continues to have one foot planted in the Warped Tour mosh pit and the other right next to a giant suburban metalhead bong.
Why you need to go: Any band that’s just as comfortable with the unrepentant nerds at Comic-Con International: San Diego as it is hanging backstage with Mastodon or crashing the Misfits’ tour bus deserves your respect. Especially if you play air guitar.
(February 18 at the Commodore Ballroom)
In the spotlight: Most Scandinavian metal bands are fucking terrifying, this usually having everything to do with their affection for burning down churches and eating each other’s brains while wearing six layers of corpse paint. Sweden’s In Flames is no exception to this rule, and what makes the quintet particularly scary is how it is still at the top of its game 10 albums into a storied career.
Why you need to go: Think about how much blind rage and aggression you’ve had pent up ever since you tried to assemble that IKEA BESTÅ storage unit in grey-turquoise with panel doors. What better place to deal with that humiliation than the mosh pit of Sweden’s finest hard-rock export?
(February 21 at the Commodore Ballroom)
In the spotlight: As INXS, the Dead Kennedys, and ’90s-era Judas Priest knew all too well, there aren’t many bands on the planet capable of surviving the loss of a frontman. AC/DC is one. Pennywise was not, this being clear to anyone who heard 2010’s All or Nothing, which saw Zoli Téglás replace original frontman Jim Lindberg on the mike. The good news for fans is that, after taking a three-year hiatus to change shitty diapers, Lindberg has decided that being paid to sing “Fuck Authority” isn’t so bad after all.
Why you need to go: Two words: “Bro Hymn”. If you can get through the first 30 seconds without choking up, you’ve obviously never lost a friend.
(March 1 to 3 at Mackin Park, Coquitlam)
In the spotlight: La Belle Province’s finest exports this side of Unibroue beer and Lanny Barby. This year’s musical lineup features folk traditionalists, including Genticorum, Dentdelion, and Les Poules à Colin. If those names mean nothing to you, it’s time to learn that Canada doesn’t stop just west of the Rocky Mountains.
Why you need to go:The last time we checked, airplane tickets to France weren’t exactly being offered up at a price attractive to folks who can’t even afford to eat at Frenchies Diner on Dunsmuir. Close your eyes at Festival du Bois, and you might be able to convince yourself that you’re standing on the Left Bank of Quebec City, imaginary beret optional.
(March 8 at Rogers Arena)
In the spotlight: One of America’s true Renaissance women, on tour to support her latest number-one album, Girl on Fire. As if it’s not enough that Alicia Keys is an insanely successful recording artist, she’s also an accomplished actor and a devoted philanthropist. Kanye West, take note: there are ways to build on an impressive legacy without being a complete and total dick about it.
Why you need to go: A good rule of thumb is: the more units moved, the bigger the spectacle. With over 35 million Keys records sold, get ready for something that will make Cirque du Soleil look like Circus West at the PNE Gardens.
(March 9 at Rogers Arena)
In the spotlight: Admit it: for years you put Maroon 5 in the same not-cool-enough-for-school file as the likes of Train, Matchbox Twenty, and Hootie & the Blowfish. And then came the impossibly excellent “Moves Like Jagger”, not to mention singer Adam Levine’s proof that he is more than a pretty face with his role in this past fall’s American Horror Story: Asylum. Suddenly, a certain pop-loving talent-show judge seems a lot cooler than we thought.
Why you need to go: Who in the hell have you been practising your “Moves Like Jagger” routine for over the past year? Besides, that is, your bedroom mirror, and that creep with the binoculars who lives across the street.
(March 10 at the Orpheum Theatre)
In the spotlight: Before Great Big Sea, Canada’s east coast was best known for fresh-off-the-boat lobster and an unemployment rate that would make the politicians of Namibia blanch. Now it’s the place where every Canadian fan of Celtic folk wants to party with singer Alan Doyle, preferably clinking a jar (or five) where the action is: around the stove in a Newfoundland kitchen.
Why you need to go: Great Big Sea, and its fans, are celebrating 20 years together with this tour. Be prepared to call in sick, hopefully for a very good reason.
(March 13 at the Commodore Ballroom)
In the spotlight: Remember the old Spinal Tap punch line that went: “How much more black could this be? And the answer is ‘None. None more black’ ”? Guitar god Nigel Tufnel could easily have been talking about veteran English metal misanthropes Cradle of Filth, who’ve been bringing the darkness since 1991. The long-running black-metal unit’s latest is called The Manticore and Other Horrors and contains tracks like “Frost on Her Pillow” and “For Your Vulgar Delectation”, both being good signs that singer Dani Filth and company are doing anything but mellowing with age.
Why you need to go: Sunday school for Satanists aside, where else are you going to wear that vintage Cradle of Filth “Jesus Is a Cunt” T-shirt?
(March 14 at the Pacific Coliseum)
In the spotlight: Emo might be every bit as played-out in 2013 as floppy Hitler-lite hairdos and the various personal torments of Bert McCracken, but that’s not bothering Billy Talent. Somewhere along the way, the Mississauga-spawned quartet blossomed into a band that defies labels, this proven again by its alt-punk-pop-rock latest, Dead Silence.
Why you need to go: It’s entirely possible that guitarist Ian D’Sa might finally step up to the mike and reveal one of the great mysteries of our time: namely, what’s going on with his quite frankly riveting hair.
(March 15 at the Orpheum Theatre)
In the spotlight: Think about this for a second: you pretty much can’t spend more than two hours at Christmas dinner without wanting to kill everyone related to you. Mad props, then, to Leahy, the CanCon mainstays who’ve spent the past four decades on the road, bringing Celtic music to folks who normally wouldn’t know the country of Ireland from Kathy Ireland. What’s most amazing is that the band members are all related. And that, to date, no one has died after being thrown from the tour bus at 120 kilometres per hour on the highway leading out of Thunder Bay.
Why you need to go: Sometime, someday, someone in the Leahy clan is going to snap. And when that happens, you’ll get an on-stage fistfight that would impress Noel and Liam Gallagher.
(March 9 to 17 at various Vancouver locations)
In the spotlight: A party-starting mix of topnotch Celtic imports (singer Mary Jane Lamond and fiddler Wendy MacIsaac) and high-end homegrown stalwarts (the Town Pants, Oliver Swain’s BIG MACHINE) gives you all the reason you need to ring in St. Patrick’s Day somewhere other than the Blarney Stone.
Why you need to go: Guinness always tastes best when consumed in a festive atmosphere. And by “festive” we don’t mean drinking alone in the dark in your living room wearing nothing but shamrock-green boxers and a stained “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced” Dropkick Murphys T-shirt.