It’s become a habit for our annual Best of Bands interviewees to reference previous Best of Bands picks, but, thankfully, this year’s crop has started thinking outside the box. Which means either we’re getting worse at mining the gems, or the Vancouver music scene is getting bigger. We’re going to go with the latter. (We’re not ones to brag, but our past choices have gone on to accrue multiple Juno Awards and a fistful of Polaris nominations, after all.)
Outing their favourite people, places, and shows, we’ve rounded up nine of the city’s greatest lead singers and solo artists to give the inside scoop on the local scene. Each having released one of Vancouver’s most impressive records over the past 12 months, these musicians have earned the right to hold court on the best things the city has to offer. And if we’ve learned anything, it’s that our hometown boys and girls stick together.
Power-pop performer Jay Arner loves last year’s Best of Bands choice Supermoon so much that he’s seen the group play 30 times this summer. That’s some next-level friendship. Burmis Tree’s Sean MacPherson rates Vancouver singer-songwriter Rodney DeCroo so highly that he name-checks the artist twice. And postrock darlings Seven Nines and Tens are so enamoured with the New Pornographers that their first choice of dinner venue is a restaurant where the “Letter From an Occupant” writers took an obscure promo shot.
These artists are keen to highlight their integrity—and despite being offered the chance to go wild in the city, they’ve refused to sell out. If Ryan Holmes was to foot the bill for the most expensive meal imaginable, for instance, where would these musicians choose? Panago Pizza and their local grocer. If they could turn any location into a first-class music venue, where would it be? The Vancouver Flea Market or a Main Street basement. Gritty stuff.
And that’s not the only thing that proves that the Best of Bands 2016 is a hardy bunch. Struggling through cat-related illnesses in the name of music, willingly visiting the set of Masters of Horror, and actually choosing to watch Cobalt karaoke, these nine artists are braver souls than us. We definitely couldn’t sit through another sweaty, drunk butchering of “Sweet Caroline”. No, thank you.