As a snapshot of a moment in time it might be the most Vancouver thing you’ll see this year.
There’s little disputing that the West Coast is one of the most beautiful places on planet Earth, with Vancouver its most famous urban jewel. From the snowcapped mountains to the sandy shores of Spanish Banks, we’ve got the kind of scenery that makes one wonder why anyone would choose to live anywhere else in the country not named the Maritimes.
Christ, take a look outside right now. The sun is shining, the daffodils have been up for a couple of weeks, and everyone is walking around in shorts and T-shirts. It’s the kind of thing that makes you proud that your Canada ends at Boundary Road.
But there’s a price to be paid in Vancouver for the Stanley Park Seawall, Commercial Drive coffee shops, Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, outdoor bar at the Keefer, and Kitsilano saltwater swimming pool. And that price is the reality that, increasingly, living here is cost-prohibitive.
Which is why anyone not named Jimmy Pattison Jr. eventually ends up moving to Hope or Chilliwack or 100 Mile House. After, that is, months of praying to God that the landlord doesn’t serve up a renoviction from the $1,200 a month Commercial Drive studio suite you work two jobs to make rent on. Knowing it's only a matter of time until you're living in a van that, in both design and functionality, looks straight out of the indescribably great Nomadland.
And it’s van—as opposed to Vancouver—life that brings us to Bill Jr. Jr.’s video for “Blue”.
As video concepts go, the clip is as simple as it is smart. In what’s a time-tested rite of passage for every indie act that’s ever roamed the pre-pandemic face of this Earth, singer Russell Gendron and his bandmates kick things off by loading into a van.
And then, rather than set sail on the blacktop for Calgary, Moose Jaw, or Thunder Bay, they stay put, with the camera rolling 360 degrees while they plug in and play.
Over the course of four minutes in cramped quarters—this thanks to the two-guitars, drums, and bass setup—we learn some things.
Like the fact that it’s the little things that make a house, err, van, a home: framed photos of loved ones, plenty of potted plants, and a DIY “chandelier” that may or not have been sourced on the shores of Tofino.
And that, if people can learn to live in 300 square-foot Yaletown condos, they could probably adapt okay to a van that seems to have all the necessities, including a mini-fridge, stove, cribbage board, and an expandable roof for when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar comes over for dinner.
Sure it might get a little cold during the winter months, which probably explains Gendron’s toque, but if your Great white North ancestors made do with log cabins, scavenged firewood, and spirit-bear pelts at night, you can probably stand to toughen up a little.
On the music side of things there’s lots to love, with “Blue” an easy-going distillation of post-slacker folk and secretly Canadian Americana. And let's not overlook the trace elements of Petty-brand acoustic classic rock. Think warm and golden as Lotusland sunset in late spring.
Which is a truly beautiful thing, especially if you’ve just spent all winter living in a van, knowing full well that this time next year you’ll probably be calling Hope home.