From rap-rock to teen pop, concerts to get you through the winter
With the local mountains not exactly getting record snowfalls, and Lost Lagoon in no danger of icing over for shinny hockey games, chances are that you’re looking for something to do this winter. Start with the following concerts, but not until you’ve taken the skates, skis, and snowmobile down to the storage locker.
Down With Webster
January 29 at the Vogue Theatre
In the spotlight: Thanks to a certain loogan named Fred Durst, rap-rock is often seen as music for drunk frat boys, testosterone-jacked meatheads, and unrepentant date rapists. Toronto’s Down With Webster deserves some respect, then, for proving that the genre doesn’t have to be unrelentingly ugly, the band’s recent single “One in a Million” boasting pop hooks that Miley Cyrus would trade her wrecking ball for.
Why you need to go: If there’s a God, Limp Bizkit isn’t returning from the grave anytime soon, so if you need a rap-rock fix, Down With Webster is better than, say, praying for the return of Methods of Mayhem.
January 29 at Vancouver FanClub
In the spotlight: While those who wouldn’t know Desmond Dekker from Desmond Tutu tend to lump the Toasters in with Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish, that’s doing the group a massive disservice. After immigrating to New York from England in the ’70s, singer Robert “Bucket” Hingley put the ska band together at a time when the Specials and Madness were officially all the rage in the U.K. Four decades later, the 2 Tone vets are still alive and skanking like Studio One never closed.
Why you need to go: Some history lessons are invaluable, especially for those labouring under the impression that ska started and ended with Save Ferris.
January 31 at the Hard Rock Casino
In the spotlight: Back when Widespread Panic and Phish were young and beautiful, Blues Traveler was right there beside them, spearheading a movement lumped under the umbrella of “jam bands”. Singer and harmonica ace John Popper and company have slowed down their recorded output over the past few years, but that’s actually good news for anyone who’s ever gone to a concert and suffered through “Here’s another new one” every three songs.
Why you need to go: Blues Traveler not only supports live taping, but actually encourages it, which means you’re free to hit the old iPhone Record button without worrying about the FBI and Interpol slapping you with severe criminal and civil penalties for unsanctioned bootlegging.
January 31 at the BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts
In the spotlight: Save your filthy jokes about Prince Harry’s joy prong for your next get-together at the legion; Royal Wood (yes, that’s the Toronto singer’s real name) deserves more respect than that. A wizard on the Steinway who runs with the renegade likes of Hawksley Workman, Wood writes the kinds of uptown adult pop songs that get the folks at Grey’s Anatomy calling. And yes, that’s Grey’s Anatomy, not Sasha Grey’s Anatomy.
Why you need to go: If the singer’s 2012 release We Were Born to Glory was good enough for the folks at the Junos (it was nominated for best adult-alternative album), it’s good enough for you. And, by the way, calling it We Were Born to Gloryhole by Royal Wood isn’t funny.
Devin the Dude
January 31 at Fortune Sound Club
In the spotlight: Devin Copeland isn’t the first guy to have the word dude become an integral part of his identity—that honour probably goes to Jeff Lebowski. The iconic 43-year-old MC is, however, quite possibly the funkiest, having carved out a decades-long career in underground hip-hop with a flow so laconic it makes Snoop Dogg sound like a helium-sick Pee-wee Herman.
Why you need to go:If you’re going to take your newly purchased 1979 Cadillac Sedan de Ville out for its first spin, no destination makes more sense than Fortune Sound Club on January 31.
January 31 at the Rickshaw Theatre
In the spotlight: Quite famously, nine out of 10 Vancouver residents are of the opinion that our Canada ends at the Rocky Mountains, and not just because of how we feel about Toronto. There are other provinces out there, however, and they occasionally have something to offer. Like, for example, the gold-standard acts of NorthFest, an alt-folk north-of-60 celebration featuring the Yukon’s Diyet, who winningly bills herself as a “sub-Arctic-Southern Tutchone-Japanese-Tlingit-Scottish-Yukoner” who was “born in a tent, raised in a two-room cabin, classically trained in opera, now an alternative folk artist”. Her fellow Yukon act Speed Control (file under grunge rawk) and Greenland’s Nive Nielse (think Keren Ann hanging with Giant Sand) also appear.
Why you need to go: Chances are high that someone at NorthFest will be able to confirm that the Yukon and Greenland are actually Canadian provinces. They are, aren’t they?
February 9 at Rogers Arena
In the spotlight: Even though she’s barely of legal drinking age in America, former Barney & Friends child star Demi Lovato has packed a shitload of living into her time on Earth. In addition to the hit records (her latest, DEMI, rocketed to No. 1 in Canada), there’s been successful TV series stints (Sonny With a Chance) and her high-profile gig as an X Factor judge. There have also been drugs, alcohol, and nervous breakdowns. But the multitalented jill-of-all-trades has at least turned her struggles into something positive by publicly talking about them in a column she writes for Seventeen.
Why you need to go: Not since Lindsay Lohan has one woman done so much in so many different disciplines. Without, in this case, flashing her snapper every time she gets out of a car.
February 9 at the Pacific Coliseum
In the spotlight: As you’ve noted with dread if you’ve just survived the world’s most dysfunctional Christmas, February 9 is the day before Family Day. What better way to tell the folks that you’ll probably be too hung-over (chemically or otherwise) to make dinner than by heading to Get Together, an all-ages EDM blowout featuring Dutch hotshot DJ Chuckie, Texas progressive trance duo Tritonal, and more.
Why you need to go: In addition to the considerable talent on display, there’s a Get Together beer garden, meaning you’ll be able to drink those grim, mentally scarring Christmas memories away in between sets.
February 14 to 16 at Performance Works
In the spotlight: Seeing as how this winter has actually been quite pleasant, it seems selfish to be wanting a break from the season with Winterruption. That shouldn’t stop you from embracing evening shows with We Are the City and Wake Owl, as well as free afternoon events featuring Saint-Pierre, Monk’s Music, the Jillian Lebeck Trio, and Qalandar.
Why you need to go: The last time we checked, there was no need to sit around the house this winter, huddled in front of a cold hearth, waiting for the coal-delivery guy to make his morning rounds.
February 14 at Rogers Arena
In the spotlight: America’s favourite tongue-wagging, riot-twerrrking, Sinéad-bashing pop princess. Admit it, no matter how much you wish that Miley Cyrus would stop embarrassing Billy Ray, you can’t help but sing along, unapologetically buck-naked, to “Wrecking Ball” every time it pops up on the car radio.
Why you need to go: Having missed Xtina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Tiffany in their prime, it’s time to make up for past regrets.
February 17 at the Orpheum
In the spotlight: As your grandparents will happily confirm, the Black Francis–led Pixies originally flamed out before they found true mainstream success, but that somehow made them even more legendary. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Kurt Cobain cribbed the formula that made Nirvana famous from too-bloody-brilliant-for-words Francis creations like “U-Mass”.
Why you need to go: Considering the way things went with Kim Deal replacement Kim Shattuck, this might be your one and only chance to see the Pixies with Paz Lenchantin.
February 19 at Rogers Arena
In the spotlight: Publications from Billboard to Rolling Stone have called Imagine Dragons the breakout band of 2013. Rather than take their word for it, consider this: the last time the Las Vegas–based alt-rock quartet talked to the Georgia Straight, they were playing the intimate Venue on Granville. Now, still working the same record—the 2012 debut, Night Visions—they are headlining a hockey rink.
Why you need to go: Is there anything better than turning to the newly converted fan next to you at Rogers and yelling “I saw them at Venue”?
Paul Simon & Sting
February 20 at Rogers Arena
In the spotlight: One guy is revered for iconic classics like “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”, the other guy most noted for breaking up the Police to master the lute and smooth jazz in between six-hour tantric-sex sessions. Guess who we hope is headlining?
Why you need to go: Face it, it’s a far better double bill than the one featuring Stewart Copeland and Art Garfunkel at the reopened Mesa Luna.
A Tribe Called Red
February 22 at the Commodore Ballroom
In the spotlight: One of the dark-horse highlights of last year’s Squamish Valley Music Festival, A Tribe Called Red meshes First Nations drumming with preprogrammed club-banging beats. Or, as the group’s Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau might explain, if you’ve ever wondered what an EDM powwow would sound like, start with the trio’s Polaris Prize–nominated Nation II Nation.
Why you need to go: Ask anyone who was lucky enough to get into A Tribe Called Red’s Woodshed stage performance at Squamish, which was not only packed, but lined up right back to Kitsilano.
Ani Di Franco
February 23 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
In the spotlight: Once the closest thing that the ’90s alt-folk scene had to a DIY riot-grrrl, Ani DiFranco has mellowed over the past few years, but her politics certainly haven’t, as evidenced by her latest, ¿Which Side Are You On?. As for her fascination with such topics as social justice and equality, punch in the singer’s name and “Righteous Retreat” for proof that her fans aren’t the only ones being educated 17 albums into her career.
Why you need to go: No one lasts this long in the underground unless they’ve truly got something to say.
February 27 and 28 at Venue
In the spotlight: Most modern blues acts tend to sound like either Robert Cray or the immortal Blues Hammer. Taking its inspiration more from African pioneers than from American imitators, Israel’s Yemen Blues manages the difficult trick of making the genre sound fresh and new, transporting listeners to the Sahara Desert rather than the Mississippi Delta.
Why you need to go: As fascinated as bandleader Ravid Kahalani is by the idea of political divides and cultural difference, his main goal is, in his own words, making people groove.
Festival du Bois
February 28 to March 2 at Mackin Park, Coquitlam
In the spotlight: Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Festival du Bois features a lineup that ranges from call-and-response traditionalists De Temps Antan to fiddling twin sisters Vishtèn to musical-genre mashers Matuto. Even if you’re about as French as Peter Sellers’s Jacques Clouseau, that shouldn’t stop you from embracing your inner francophone.
Why you need to go: If there was ever a weekend to display your mastery of French 8, this is it.
March 3 at the Vogue Theatre
In the spotlight: That Pat Metheny has scored 20 Grammy Awards over the course of his career should give him every reason to be coasting across the finish line. Instead of rolling out the greatest-hits tour, though, the veteran guitarist continues to push himself, his latest, Kin, the work of his crack Unity Band, a group of heavy hitters initially assembled for what was supposed to be a one-off project.
Why you need to go: Ever seen a 59-year-old guitarist who’s more up on technology than the Web programmers down in IT? Get ready for something bombastic, as Metheny has recently been using digitally manipulated 19th-century orchestrions to unleash full-on drum battalions and marimba armies on his fans.
March 10 at the Pacific Coliseum
In the spotlight: While fans of Hank Williams III have about as much use for Lady Antebellum as Hank III does for Hank II, it’s hard to argue with sales figures. Since forming in 2006, the Nashville-sanctioned country trio has sold over 10 million albums, meaning that Garth Brooks and Shania Twain might finally have to give over the keys to the kingdom.
Why you need to go: While no one is going to deny that Bloodshot is the coolest country label in the world, it’s equally impossible to dispute the feel-good appeal of sing-along smashes like “Compass”.
CelticFest 10th-Anniversary Gala
March 14 at the Vogue Theatre
In the spotlight: As sure as no one predicted the sequel Leprechaun 2, there were probably doubters about the long-term prospects for CelticFest when the event was launched a decade ago. Green felt hats off to the local celebration of all things Irish, then, as it mounts a gala night featuring harmony-drenched the Once from St. John’s, Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project, and Vancouver’s long-running favourites the Paperboys.
Why you need to go: There’s more than one way to get primed for St. Patrick’s Day, but do you really need to watch Leprechaunfor the 32nd time when you could be hoisting a pint with those who’ll be bleeding shamrock green, if only for a night?
March 17 at the Pacific Coliseum
In the spotlight: As Kurt Cobain figured out early on, teenage angst pays off well, and that lesson was not lost on Mayday. The Far East alt-rock giants started off raw and hard, gradually softening the edges to become one of the biggest-ever bands in Taiwan. The group’s goal today is a modest and simple one: to be bigger than the Beatles at home in Asia. If you’re going to aim, aim high.
Why you need to go: If this show were in Taiwan, your chances of seeing Mayday someplace intimate—like, say, a hockey rink—would be about as low as you rattling off every album ever released by Wu Bai—from memory, not Wikipedia.