At various Vancouver venues on Friday, June 6
It would be unfair to call the Thursday night opener of Music Waste a soft-launch, having featured eight bands spread out between a pair of venues and a large group opening taking place at Gallery Cachet as part of Art Waste. But it wasn't until Friday's infinitely busier, venue-hopping program, touting close to 30 acts across eight venues, that the annual local D.I.Y. fest came into full bloom.
Kicking things off at the crack of dinnertime was Surrey trio She Dreams in Colour, whose six o'clock set was staged in the middle of Kingsgate Mall. Apparently more appealing than the 3 for $10 flip-flops deal at an almost-empty Ardene, the young group's shopping centre performance drew in curious on-lookers and one wildly air guitaring toddler. The act politely noted up front that they'd stripped down their alt-rock crunch for the night, leaving regular drummer Emma Star to slap rhythms out of a mahogany cajón, which was occasionally accompanied by the berry-obliterating blur of the blender at the Sugar Cane juice bar just behind them. Despite the dialed-down aesthetics, bassist-vocalist Devy Bohoun still managed to channel her teen angst on "We're the Kids Your Parents Warned You About".
Though the sun was still shining through the mall's glass doors, //zoo's performance got fabulously gloomy via menacingly mechanized beats and guitarist Luna Fang-Landerwyck's perfect storm of postpunk licks. Gated off from the fray by two taupe leather couches and a tickle trunk of A/V equipment, vocalist Ashlee Luk made use of her free space delivering doomy, demon-seed howls while dragging a boot point across a Persian rug.
Across town on Hastings street, where the bulk of the night's venues were situated, Taxa took to the floor of the SBC to pump out powerful nods to '90s posthardcore, with firecracker snare hits, Andrew Morrison's serpentine bass runs and the virulent screams of Hieg Khatcherian coming together chaotically on closer "L'Appel Du Vide". The skateboard-friendly setting was soon maximized as a pair of long-haired riders grabbed air on the venue's half-pipe during Night Detective's excellent, though ultra-brief run-through of wiry, caffeine-addled punk cuts. After strapping on a six-string for her second set of the night, Ashlee Luk tried to ride the ramp by foot as the rest of lié delivered a demented blur of blistering polka beats and jet-black melodies.
Things apparently weren't running smoothly at the Cobalt, where Raw Tongue's set had been axed from the schedule. With Genderdog's performance now pushed even further into the evening, it felt like a waste of a festival pass to just hang around inside the almost empty club.
Over at the Astoria, the black-and-white checkerboard floor began to fill out as three-piece Quitting offered up an engaging, atmospheric wall of noise. Sounding something like the Psychedelic Furs jamming with Mogwai, the group employed Sprechgesang vocals, paint-peeling layers of six-string noise and the occasional chime of a Tingsha to get their point across. The melodic, society-examining group chant of "Where is our share?" on epically-paced "End Purpose" was a highlight of the night.
Further west on Hastings at the Remington Gallery, prolific local live photographer Steve Louie showcased a series of shots taken over the years, many at Music Waste. On display were ages-old pictures of fest graduates like White Lung, Apollo Ghosts and Mac DeMarco, the latter pictured bare-assed and hanging from the rafters of a Vancouver venue. Things were comparatively more tame in the back of the gallery, where Fake Tears were sharing synth-driven songs with an absolutely packed room. That said, the duo of Elisha Rembold and Larissa Loyva were stunning as they conjured electro-soul sounds out of a pair of Korgs and an iPod mini loaded with beats, and filled the air with a steady stream of blissful duets.
Poles were bringing back the grunge sounds of the '90s just down the street at Pat's Pub, with guitarist Scott Budgie mastering slacker generation charm by delivering throat shredding screams of “Worried" with a look of Prozac-fueled indifference. The band's bespectacled, scraggly-haired bassist took a different approach, though, energetically wiggling around the stage like Garth Algar on a Twizzler bender.
Back at the Astoria, one-time pop-punk Andrew Candela was unveiling new songs from his more rock-oriented Candela Farm. Dressed head-to-toe in white, the frontman hopped-and-bopped in between hard-driving lines about "the ruling class of assholes" on "Waiting Room," with the group taking things into a Springsteen direction via the joyful, sustained sax skronks of Alex Cooper.
Following that high-energy performance, Fantasy Prom felt a little lacklustre. While the act occasionally entertained with its shoegazing textures, the fine-voiced Amelia Fudalewski seemed distant and statuesque as she stared into the abyss of the Astoria with a Lucky Lager bottle in her hands.
War Baby were apparently furious to be at the Astoria, if only because it appeared as if someone had stolen a case full of Jonathan Reddit's guitar pedals. "It's going to sound like a piece of shit," the frontman warned the crowd ahead of the trio's noisy performance, adding "It's awesome when people jack your shit. I love it." The artist was visibly agitated as he employed but one lone Ibanez distortion pedal to fuzz-fry his ugly licks, but a push-pit eruption proved that the faithful were still pleased with War Baby's aggressive, grungy display.
Things were bound to be more mellow at the Red Gate, where kush-crazy rap collective Too High Crew were set to close out the second night of the festival, but you could be forgiven for feeling a bit too Wasted to head even further East down Hastings for the finely ground finale. Even if you did skip out on the smokers club, you could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that two more action-packed days of Music Waste were left to take in.