Friday was bound to be the biggest day of the festival for most, with so many sledders eager to see Feist rock out in her hometown at the Olympic Plaza. This was going to be my third time seeing Feist this summer, and I pretty much knew what to expect. Don’t get me wrong, my first two feisty experiences were gold, and I was tweeting my excitement to @feistmusic all day. But before the Canadian rock goddess took to the stage there were loads of other bands to witness and discover.
My first stop was at Broken City to see Dirty Ghosts, a two-piece female blues rock band from San Francisco that is said to use Aesop Rock’s drum loops. I was intrigued. First of all Broken City is a cool venue on 11th Ave. with a dark mainfloor with a poorly lit stage and cozy rooftop patio upstairs. This would prove invaluable later on. As soon as Dirty Ghosts began setting up, I made my way to the front to get the best view possible of these rocker babes. The female singer/guitarist and bassist reminded me of localVancouver legends Pack A.D. because they both absolutely slay it. They played one song called “Eyes of a Stranger” that was catchy enough I was sure it was a cover. They ended with “Battle Slang” an instrumental-heavy track that shocases the females musical prowess. Half an hour of sweaty headbanging and sludgy guitar riffs later and I was hooked, overheated and happy about discovering a new band. I headed upstairs to cool off before the next show.
Next up was NEEDLES//PINS, a power-pop rock band fromVancouver,BC that sounds like the Ramones with their crack-addict catchy choruses and fantastic melodies. They are a very fun band to see live and I was throughly pleased that I stuck around for them. One singable song after the next, these guys went to town signing about everythign under the sun and dedicating one track to his best friend.
I was encouraged to stick around for the not-so-secret performance of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet¸ so I did. This oldschool surf rock group was definitely talented, but between the bassist’s too big unbuttoned shirt and lack of something to sing along to or dance to I wasn’t thrilled. I was pleased when I decided to leave and give my spot up to an actual fan lined-up outsideBrokenCity.
Leaving early from BrokenCitymeant I had about an hour to get over to the Ship and Anchor to see Nardwuar ‘the Human Serviet’ and his band the Evaporators. Turns out that wasn’t enough time; the ship was packed to the sails with people dying to get a glimpse of Nard and party with the television celebrity and his pop rock band. So I lined up and hoped for the best. About 10 minutes before the Evaporators were scheduled to come on stage, who walks right in the front door, but Nardwuar himself, followed by Andrew W.K. and some other rockstars. I knew Andrew W.K. and the Evaporators had done some work together and the fact that they could be very well performing it together just a few feet away was driving me crazy. Luckily after about two songs I was allowed in and I rushed to the front of the stage as kindly as I could. The next song Nardwuar introduced Andrew W.K, and the all-white, long haired, party rock keyboardist jumps up on stage. They kick it off with Andrew W.K.’s party anthem, “Party Hard” and the energy in the building increases tenfold. Everybody and their girlfriend is headbanging and singing along to the addictive as heck, keyboard-laden, party track. The Evaporators carry on into more of their own music while still being accompanied by Andrew W.K., but playing more of their silly pop rock songs about cheese, and rashes.
The sillyness doesn’t stop as Nardwuar insists the crowd raise his keyboard up in their hands above their heads. He proceeds to climb upon it and paddle around the crowd like he’s searching for an epic wave. Before you know it he’s back on stage with a motorcycle helmet on and sweating like crazy. The antics don’t cease. After the entire band changes from all white motorcycle race style outfits to skin tight neon pink and blue leotards, Nardwuar is back in the crowd giving everyone an opportunity to chime in. He ends by ushering the entire audience down to their knees with he at the helm in the middle of the Ship and Anchor. The bass line drops and everybody explodes to their feet. The show ends and hundreds file out of the Ship buzzing about the piece of musical history they had just witnessed at a 5:00PM show on 17th Ave.
It was time to make our way to the Olympic Plaza to get ready for Feist and check out the opening bands that I hadn’t heard of before. Festival director, Lindsay Shedden, introduced Wake Owl to kick off the night. They are a five-piece band was performing as a three piece for some reason that didn’t make sense to me at the time. They were like a younger Fleet Foxes, only not as good.
Timber Timbre performed next and I had heard birds chirping about them for the past couple days, but again, sadly was not impressed. The rain was coming down and filling the non-draining Olympic Plaza with a smooth inch of water across the enitre floor. The music was almost as depressing as the weather; cold, wet and tired at the Olympic Water Park, I fell asleep and dreamed about Feist.
Like God sending us an angel, the clouds parted, the rain let up, and spirits rose as Calgarysweetheart, Leslie Feist came on stage joined by the lovely vocal backing of Mountain Man. When she kicked it off with “How Come You Never Go There” I immediately forgot about my wet-to-the-bone feet and became entranced by the swooning vocals and bluesy thump of the beat.
She played almost the entirety of her latest heavier, darker album, Metals. The corwd came alive when she picked up the pop for her 2007 hit “Feel it All”. In between songs Leslie shared how grateful she was that we braved the rain and expressed her joy to be playing in front of her family. Sadly there was no encore, but really it wasn’t needed, everything about the show was perfect.
Dicken’s Pub was the next venue of choice when the bouncer at the HIFI Club told us we had an hour wait in line for HUMANS. After deliberating, I headed to Dicken’s and caught the tail end of PARLOVR, a long emo-haired indie rock band with an interesting arrangement of trafficlights on stage. They performed well but their off key fuzz pop called for another beer.
Hooded Fang was an improvement as the final act of the night at Dicken’s. With a female bassist and talented asian vocalist they produced some catchy tunes.
Squeezing every last ounce of music out of the night I headed to the #1 Legion for NoMeansNo. As the second largest capcity venue on the list it was almost a sure thing I could get in at 1:00AM. NoMeansNo are old mean playing heavy punk rock music. I’ll give them credit for shaking every gray hair on their heads, but I was not into moshing and sought out a quieter venue.
Only a block or so away, The Palomino, proved to be the perfect bedtime nightcap. Craig Finn was performing a mix of beatnik storytellying and folksy acoustic songs for a small crowd in the dimly lit basement of the Palomino. It smelled like old library books and the air was warm and I was basically lullabied to sleep.