High notes of the year
We take one long, last look at the most notable shows, singles, surprises, and washouts of 2009
Gossip (At the Commodore Ballroom on October 22)
Beth Ditto promised to take Vancouver to “lesbian church”. But even for those to whom watching The Rachel Maddow Show is as close as they’ll ever get to the lesbian experience, there was something undeniably soul-shaking about seeing the Gossip singer make her way from one side of the Commodore’s dance floor to the other, mingling with the sweaty faithful, all the while belting out “Standing in the Way of Control”.
Hard Drugs (At the Biltmore Cabaret on July 25)
It’s hard to say if the record-release party for Vancouver/Brooklyn-based Hard Drugs was actually as amazing as those in attendance believed it to be. With the air still heavily charged from the spectacular lightning storm that ravaged the city earlier that evening, it’s entirely possible that the awestruck crowd was feeling a little wonky from all that electricity bouncing around. Who’s to say the packed room wouldn’t have been just as enthralled watching a Norwegian mime tiptoe across the stage in an Adidas tracksuit?
Kiss (At GM Place on November 14)
It could have been seeing Gene Simmons spit out a bucket of blood before belting out “Love It Loud” from the scaffolding high above the stage. It could’ve been hearing the New York numskulls dust off the Destroyer closer “Do You Love Me”. It was almost certainly watching flamboyant frontman Paul Stanley singing about his love gun while ziplining across the stadium like a transsexual Errol Flynn. Whatever the highlight was, Vancouver wanted the best and they got the best.
Neil Young (At Ambleside Park on September 12)
Neil Young has been many things: folkie, proto-punk, country rambler, new-wave granddad, and leading toy-train industrialist. In September, he showed up in West Van in his newest guise, as Sarah McLachlan’s opening act at her Summer Sessions at Ambleside extravaganza, sitting down with a Moosehead beer and running through classics like “Pocahontas”. Ms. McLachlan was in fine form, too, for an outdoor bonanza that brought summer to a splendidly warm close.
Gallows (At Thunderbird Stadium on August 15)
At the end of a long and sadly forgettable Warped Tour day, Gallows left a trail of total carnage. The full-bore assault started with singer Frank Carter and guitarists Stephen Carter and Laurent “Lags” Barnard jumping off the stage, setting up on the grassy field, and then conducting a symphony of insanity that included circle pits and an actual wall of death. When the smoke on the battlefield cleared, it looked—for a good 20 minutes or so—that punk rock might actually have a future.