Music Waste kicks off hard with a blowout at the Waldorf
At the Waldorf Hotel on Thursday, June 7
Part of the fun of Music Waste, Vancouver’s premier DIY music festival, is bouncing between venues to catch as many local acts in one night as is humanly possible. But while there were shows going on around town at Zoo Zhop, the Railway Club, and Library Square, many people opted to stick around the Waldorf Hotel on Thursday night. You could hardly accuse anyone of slacking off, though, considering the East Van entertainment hub was hosting an 11-band blowout that had fans hoofing it between three rooms of tunes—well, four, if you count the unrelated jazz night taking place in the hotel’s Nuba restaurant.
Dirty Spells kicked off the evening in front of a fairly empty cabaret, but the seven-piece group’s unbridled rock ’n’ roll enthusiasm made it seem like they were playing to a full house. The outfit’s double-drum attack, sax skronks, and violin swells made for an especially murky, spy-rock-influenced psych set.
Next up was White Poppy, a duo that dialled things down with its minimalist dream pop. Leader Crystal Dorval offered up heavily textured guitar runs powered by a suitcase full of gadgets that left many, including her, speechless. “Enjoy the silence,” she said between a pair of reverb-heavy numbers indebted to the early 4AD catalogue. “It’s refreshing sometimes.”
Upstairs in the Tiki Bar, one-man punk band New Krime was making a hell of a racket. The quick-and-to-the-point set had guitarist T. Depression shouting smarmily over tinny, programmed beats and snippets of what sounded like old German newsreels.
Despite its baroque pop leanings, last minute addition Aunts and Uncles kicked off its set in the Hideaway lounge with a ham-fisted but hilarious attempt at Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. Guitarist Joseph Hirabayashi mean-mugged the audience as he chugged out that iconic, percussive Jimmy Page riff, while violinist Adrienne LaBelle wailed her way through most of those lyrics about the land of ice and snow.
Greenback High kept things just as rock-minded a few feet away in the cabaret, blasting through ultradistorted power-pop tunes that often found guitarist-vocalist Joshy Atomic wailing away on his axe with fleet-fingered dexterity. Bassist Rob Wright ended up giving a shout-out to the festival before the group launched into “Long Way to Go”, pointing out that in addition to the other acts that had to close out the night, there were still dozens of shows lined up for the next four days.
While there was plenty of action to behold on-stage, at times it seemed like the real party was taking place at the bamboo bar between the cabaret and the Hideaway lounge. Throughout the night, you’d catch handfuls of patrons drunkenly getting their groove on with stubbies of Cariboo held high to the sounds of Duran Duran, Blondie, and Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” Even if the playlist wasn’t exactly Vancouver-centric, you could at least see some local notables cutting it up in the throng (Rose Melberg, we’re looking at you).
Back in the Tiki Bar, electronic act Telefoam was serving up some beautiful, Balearic club beats. A projection screen with some distorted visuals obscured knob-twiddlers Patrick Beechinor and Ryan Longoz, who, despite laying down some of the chilliest sounds of the night, were frantically twisting dials on their assortment of samplers. A guitarist in a shirt and tie came close to derailing the dreaminess of it all, though, spiking the set with some unbecomingly flashy hammer-ons.
Vincent Parker jumped on-stage next and proceeded to freak the fuck out, wiggling his bearded, slender frame spastically as he doled out hyperactive, wobbly dub sounds. Despite his energized performance, most attendees opted to chat over beers at some nearby tables.
The Godspot’s Ryan Johnston admitted to having had a few too many drinks throughout the night, which explained the psych-rock troupe’s train-wreck performance in the Hideaway. From the obnoxious, big-ol’-jet-airliner flanger effects to a cornea-scorching strobe light pointed directly into the crowd, to Johnston’s in-the-red screeches, nothing seemed to gel for the act. And they knew it. “This is what happens when you get the harder drinkers to play later,” the frontman slurred sloppily between songs.
Capitol 6’s set in the cabaret, meanwhile, came off super-pro without sounding too slick. The quintet delivered countless greats off their recently released Pretty Lost LP, with the biggest highlight being the hazy paisley-pop jam “Beside the Fire”. The act’s material had an extra edge on-stage, with Henry Beckwith subbing the old-time piano plunks in the recording of “Playing Dead” with a fuzzed-out fun-house organ line.
Back in the Hideaway, Peace demonstrated why it’s become one of the city’s most beloved indie acts. Singer-guitarist Dan Geddes has become Vancouver’s resident postpunk poet laureate, delivering ominous lines about painted skin and extinguished flames in a commanding, half-spoken tone over the troupe’s increasingly hypnotic thud. Peace’s follow-up to last year’s My Face can’t come soon enough.
Around 12:30, B-Lines capped the night as it tends to: with a piss-and-vinegar blast of high-speed pop punk. Singer Ryan Dyck stormed around, staring into the crowd like a man possessed during hardcore highlights “Tonite” and “It Rains”, while the rest of the troupe bashed away at their instruments. Despite Dyck half-joking that the veteran band had been made headliners so that tuckered out Music Wasters could go home early, the crowd ate up every second of it, yanking the singer into the pit and lovingly giving him a beer shower. Punchy and punked-up new tune “Normal Again” may have the dude dying to “finish in the middle of the pack”, but B-Lines put on the kind of show that keeps you at the top of the heap.