Calling this a cruel winter is probably exaggerating a tad, considering we’ve had about .0003 centimetres of snow in Metro Vancouver. Still, we could all use an excuse to pull on our jackets and get out of the house, mostly because cabin fever set in sometime around mid-January. Whether your tastes run to the extreme metal of Cannibal Corpse, the lounge-tastic stylings of Engelbert Humperdinck, or the trance-inducing EDM of Armin van Buuren, the back stretch of winter has everything for you. Except, that is, snow.
February 3 at Rogers Arena
In the spotlight: Proving even the Prince of Fucking Darkness has a shelf life, the casket is about to close on Black Sabbath. And the last thing you want to do is shuffle off into the abyss not having seen the legends who practically invented the term heavy metal.
Why you need to go: Assuming we don’t get a reunion two years from now, this will be the final time to join a 12,000-strong rivethead sing-along to “Generals gathered in their masses/Just like witches at black masses.”
February 3 at the Vogue Theatre
In the spotlight: If you’ve never heard of Aussie sensation Troye Sivan, here are some quick facts: he’s a YouTube-made pop star whose acting credits include X-Men Origins: Wolverine; his Twitter followers number over 3.3 million; and Time named him one of the most influential teens of 2014. Remember that jealousy will get you nowhere.
Why you need to go: Proving he’s more Jared Leto than Bruce Willis, Sivan is one of those actors who can actually sing. His debut, Blue Neighbourhood, has been praised as the best thing this side of Lana Del Rey bedding Morrissey.
February 5 and 6 at the Rickshaw Theatre
In the spotlight: In its purest form, punk rock isn’t about the size of one’s mohawk or being more offensive than Fat Mike. Instead, it’s supposed to make you think, something that Winnipeg’s Propagandhi has been encouraging fans to do for the better part of 30 years. Feed your head with songs like “Apparently, I’m a ‘P.C. Fascist’ (Because I Care About Both Human and Non-Human Animals)”.
Why you need to go: Even if you implicitly understand that racism, homophobia, and sexism all suck, you’ll probably still learn something. Besides, that is, the fact that Blink-182 isn’t, and never was, punk rock.
February 5 at the Commodore Ballroom
In the spotlight: Having arrived on the scene sounding like ’70s California at its most sun-flooded, Yukon Blonde has gone on to establish itself as one of Vancouver’s most shape-shifting bands. Last year’s On Blonde was a genre-mashing mix of neon-splattered new wave, dark-skies goth, and paisley-dipped psychedelia.
Why you need to go: Yukon Blonde’s last big local show was headlining the massive Khatsahlano Street Party, making the Commodore gig positively intimate by comparison.
Get Together 2016
February 13 at the Pacific Coliseum
In the spotlight: Superstar DJs rarely come more decorated than Get Together headliner Armin van Buuren, who first blasted onto the scene at 19 and shows no sign of slowing down at age 39. In addition to Grammy nominations and Billboard dance-chart accomplishments, the trance legend has been decorated with nothing less than the prestigious Order of Orange-Nassau in his native Holland. (Translation: he’s pretty much a national hero.) Joining van Buuren at the fourth annual Get Together will be an undercard that includes Sander van Doorn, Will Sparks, and the party-starting duo of Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano.
Why you need to go: Need proof that EDM remains as big as Guns N’ Roses in the ’80s and grunge in the ’90s? Consider that, just months after B.C. Place hosted the two-day blowout Contact, one of the city’s two hockey rinks will make room for a bunch of Stonehenge-sized bass cabinets.
Booker T. Jones
February 13 at the Vogue Theatre
In the spotlight: Yes, he cowrote the immortal “Green Onions”, but Booker T. Jones has accomplished a thing or two since that single went stratospheric in ’62. A genuine legend with four Grammys under his belt, the R&B stalwart has collaborated with everyone from Questlove and Lou Reed to Mayer Hawthorne and Kelly Hogan.
Why you need to go: Some folks are inspirational simply because they continue to show up. Jones is one of them, having released his latest full-length, Sound the Alarm, three years ago at age 69.
February 19 and 20 at the River Rock Casino
In the spotlight: Snicker at the name all you want—elementary-school kids have been doing that ever since Arnold George Dorsey rechristened himself Engelbert Humperdinck back in 1965. Fifty years later, the man behind “Release Me” and “The Last Waltz” is still packing ’em into casinos at the age of 79.
Why you need to go: Normally, one has to go to Vegas to see Mr. Humperdinck. The River Rock Casino just saved you the airfare.
February 19 to 21 at Performance Works
In the spotlight: Even if winter on the West Coast doesn’t exactly feel like Whitehorse, the seasonal affective disorder usually clicks in approximately 36 hours after the New Year’s Eve ball drops in Times Square. Get through the dark days with the always adventurous Winterruption. This year’s edition is loaded with talent like chamber-pop experimentalists the End Tree, dream-hazed chanteuse Alejandra Ribera, and world-music fusionists Tanga.
Why you need to go: Much of Winterruption is free. Now get off the couch—it’s not like you’re living in Whitehorse.
Cradle Of Filth
February 24 at the Rickshaw Theatre
In the spotlight: When a band sticks around long enough, its fans age with it. How funny, then, that Cradle of Filth has survived the notoriety of its early years to become a black-metal institution? Yes, many of the folks who ponied up for one of their infamous Jesus Is a Cunt T-shirts back in the mid-’90s are now parents. Which won’t stop them from banging the living shit out of their heads to “The Foetus of a New Day Kicking”.
Why you need to go: Anything to get away from the cradle of filth created on a daily basis by that screaming newborn. Devil horns up high, new parents!
February 25 at the Commodore Ballroom
In the spotlight: The number one prerequisite for making authentic throwback rock is great hair, and Hamilton’s Monster Truck has that in long, flowing spades. Following up the aptly named 2013 debut Furiosity, the ’70s-fixated riff-rockers are set to unleash a sophomore album titled Sittin’ Heavy.
Why you need to go: Your dad had some of the best times of his life with a wineskin and a fully loaded bong, so why shouldn’t you?
March 1 at the Vogue Theatre
In the spotlight: Arriving on the scene as an Odd Future associate, Long Beach MC Vince Staples has stepped into the spotlight on his own, his Def Jam double-album debut, Summertime ’06, showered with universal acclaim. Suck on that, Tyler the Creator.
Why you need to go: Given how quick his ascent has been in the rap world, this is probably the first and last time you’ll see Staples in a theatre as wonderfully intimate as the Vogue.
March 4 at the Commodore Ballroom
In the spotlight: Why sit at home watching reruns of The Walking Dead when you can create movies in your mind to the raging horror metal of Cannibal Corpse?
Why you need to go: For those who enjoy making movies in their minds, the long-running death-metal band’s latest, A Skeletal Domain, contains such songs as “High Velocity Impact Spatter”, “Bloodstained Cement”, and “Icepick Lobotomy”. And you thought The Walking Dead was grotesque.
Festival Du Bois
March 4 to 6 at Mackin Park, Coquitlam
In the spotlight: Maz is the buzz band to beat at this year’s annual celebration of all things francophone. The Quebec quartet has won raves for blending cutting-edge jazz with electronic flourishes. Other reasons to hit the Festival du Bois, which is now in its impressive 27th year, include powerhouse traditionalists Le Bruit Court Dans la Ville, the high-octane Réveillons!, and the fast-rising Gabriel Dubreuil Trio.
Why you need to go: Did we mention the buzz around Maz?
March 5 at the Vancouver Playhouse
In the spotlight: Back when Lilith Fair was one of the biggest road shows on the planet, Ani DiFranco was to boho folk what Bikini Kill was to riot grrrl, which is to say the voice of a movement. And while most renegades eventually lose the fire, DiFranco’s determination to fight the power remains strong, with 2014’s Allergic to Water her 18th full-length.
Why you need to go: The last time we checked, Mary Lou Lord and Jewel were still missing in action, making DiFranco one of the last survivors of her generation.
March 8 at the Orpheum
In the spotlight: Core members Ann and Nancy Wilson haven’t always been on top of their game—is Private Audition on anyone’s iPod? But when they are on, few in rock ’n’ roll are as badass. Admit it—you can’t pick up Guitar Hero without taking a futile stab at “Barracuda”.
Why you need to go: Most rock bands of ’70s vintage haven’t exactly aged gracefully—does anyone really want to see .38 Special with no original members? Heart’s legacy remains intact, mostly because the Wilson sisters have refused to say die.
March 10 to 17 at various Vancouver locations
In the spotlight: For one week of the year, downtown Vancouver feels more like the Temple Bar district of Dublin than, well, downtown Vancouver. (And by Dublin, we’re not talking Dublin, Texas.) CelticFest Vancouver is that time of year, and its 12th edition features the Irish Rovers, the Halifax Wharf Rats, and the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir.
Why you need to go: Unless that Christmas bonus came through, odds are you won’t be spending March on the Emerald Isle. CelticFest is the next-best thing, especially after you’ve got three pints of Guinness and a shot of Bushmills in you.
March 11 at Rogers Arena
In the spotlight: Whoever Justin Bieber’s spin doctors are, they certainly earned their money in the past year. Just when the former teen idol was in danger of being written off as the worst asshole this side of Donald Trump, he hit bigger than ever with his decidedly adult-oriented, EDM–laced fourth album, Purpose. And more importantly, he actually seemed grateful for having fans who pushed him to No. 1 on the charts. Again.
Why you need to go: There’s no denying the guy has balls. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have spent three years acting like a complete dickhead, and then released a smash single called “Sorry”.
March 15 at the Orpheum
In the spotlight: A couple of years ago, Leon Bridges was washing dishes in a Fort Worth, Texas, restaurant. Today, the impeccably retro-dressed crooner is one of the leading lights of a vintage–R&B revival featuring acts like Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.
Why you need to go: Late last fall, Bridges made his first Vancouver appearance, selling out the Commodore almost overnight. This time, he jumps up to the Orpheum. See the charismatic soulman now, because at this rate it’s next stop B.C. Place—not for one night, but two.