The Straight’s SKOOKUM picks to click
The great thing about SKOOKUM—well, okay, one of the many great things about the festival that takes over Stanley Park from Friday to Sunday (September 7 to 9)—is that there’s more to it than just the names you know. Oh, sure, you’re there to see the Killers and Florence + the Machine and Metric and all the rest. But you’ll also have a chance to discover your new favourite act among the lesser-known artists on the bill. Check out our six picks below and you’ll be able to say you saw them before any of your hipster friends even knew who they were.
Forest Stage at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday
The members of daysormay started making music together when they were still in elementary school—because what the hell else are you going to do when you grow up in Vernon?—and while they still don’t look much older than that, they craft impeccable alt-pop like well-seasoned pros. Killer tunes like “Human” and “Desolation Sound” make a good case that these boys would do well to relocate to Vancouver so they can rub elbows with the likes of Said the Whale, the Zolas, and We Are the City. Mind you, they probably have to graduate from high school first.
Meadow Stage at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday
Diane Mutabaruka grew up in Zimbabwe and other places in Africa and sometimes raps in French, but those cross-cultural selling points aside, her brand of R&B–flavoured hip-hop will appeal to all of you who have the complete works of Missy Elliott, Jill Scott, and Lauryn Hill on permanent rotation. How empowering and uplifting are Missy D’s jams? Let’s just say the title of her debut album, When Music Hits You Feel No Pain, is a pretty accurate description of the tracks found on it. She considers her music to be therapeutic, and if it works for her, it can work for you.
Meadow Stage at 9:15 p.m. on Friday
Regardless of what the Top 40 might tell you, there’s more to hip-hop than guns, cars, money, and misogyny. For those willing to embrace a more socially conscious musical fix, First Nations duo Mob Bounce is a gateway to a higher level of lyricism. Frontman Craig Frank Edes (Gitxsan) and producer Travis Adrian Hebert (Cree/Métis) started off the project playing guitar and drums, but have since sprinkled their arrangements with elements of big-room EDM. In performance, the pair showcase their cultural identity by dabbling in Indigenous chanting and sampling sounds from the wilds of British Columbia, making Mob Bounce one of the most unusual acts on the SKOOKUM bill.
Black Pistol Fire
Forest Stage at 8 p.m. on Friday
One of the undeniable realities of the live-music experience is that, no matter how great your songs might be, no one wants to watch you take root on-stage while performing. On that front, Black Pistol Fire has built a reputation that’s more in line with Death Grips or Jack White than Art Garfunkel crossed with a 600-year-old California redwood. Forget coming off-stage simply sweat-drenched—the white-trash turbo-blues duo of drummer Eric Owen and singer-guitarist Kevin McKeown have been lauded for finishing up sets bloodied and bruised, jeans torn and T-shirts 50 shades of filthy grey. As Owen told the Straight last year, “We’re basically fucking gassed after we play a show.” Stand back—you’ve been warned.
Snotty Nose Rez Kids
Meadow Stage at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday
As names go, Snotty Nose Rez Kids is as brilliantly evocative and inflammatory as N.W.A or Public Enemy. Coming straight outta Kitamaat Village on B.C.’s north coast, Haisla MC Yung Trybez (a.k.a. Quinton Nyce) and Young D (Darren Metz) offer proof that modern hip-hop has so much more to offer than Post Malone and XXXTentacion. Check out the G-funked anti–Kinder Morgan call to arms “The Warriors”. Or the wickedly woozy “Skoden”, the video that starts with “Fuck Justin Trudeau” and then marries the past (longhouses and ceremonial masks) to the present (modern street protests) as Snotty Nose Rez Kids roll out lines like “My people getting mauled and put on by the dogs/And we’re still getting cuffed like outlaws.” Yes, someone is still willing to represent at a time when hip-hop is overrun with guns, cars, money, and misogyny.
Julian Taylor Band
Forest Stage at 6 p.m. on Friday
Even more impressive than frontman Julian Taylor’s mighty fine dreadlocks is his band’s versatility. A funk group first and foremost, the eight-piece stands apart from other outfits in its ability to fuse its choppy guitar chords and brass stabs with other genres. Hard rock, folk, hip-hop, and more augment the band’s records, creating a melting pot of sounds and feels befitting its Toronto home. With its deep roster of material, the group’s live set covers a dizzying amount of ground, from hip-shakers to tunes that will leave you weeping into your Budweiser.