The War on Drugs

with White Laces
March 29th @ The Biltmore

The Saturday night crowd at the Biltmore rose consistently. By 8 p.m., opening act White Laces began playing abruptly, to a half-full crowd. Announcing they’re from Richmond, Virginia, the four-piece had a full and earthy rumble; the bass, keys, guitar, drums, and laptop tracks spread evenly in a blanket of sound. The continuous fusion of chords and drum steps gave an overall ethos of indistinct rockability. Every sound seemed to rush in the same direction.

White Laces || photo by Julia Badayeva

White Laces || photo by Julia Badayeva

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Perfect Pussy

with N.213 Group VIsion
March 25th @ The Cobalt

Perfect Pussy || photo by Steve Louie

Perfect Pussy || photo by Steve Louie

One of Perfect Pussy’s well-known songs to this point in their brief career is called “Interference Fits,” and though to my knowledge this was not a part of their set at the Cobalt on March 25, interference certainly did fit for both opening act N.213 Group Vision and PP themselves.

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Editor’s Note

FOR THE RECORD

While April used to be content to just bring May flowers and give people another reason to smoke weed outside, there’s a growing reason to say “so long!” to March: Record Store Day. What started six years ago as a way to celebrate vinyl has since exploded into a music-lover’s equivalent of Christmas. Exclusive releases, in-store performances, and overall good vibes are just a few of the reasons why you should call in sick and head down to your favourite record store on April 19.

My first experience with Record Store Day came when I was at Coachella in 2009. Between sunburns and autograph signings, we wandered into the reprieving shelter of the record tent where I was surprised at how much I wanted to buy everything in sight. I was still new to the record Renaissance and had had barely enough money to justify attending the festival in the first place, much less a surplus to spend on something as nonessential as records. Regardless, I splurged on a pair of Weakerthans and Fleet Foxes LPs and to this day still have the reusable bag they came in. I was hooked. For a sneak peek at some of the great things happening around town, check out the spread on pages six and seven of this here magazine.

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Cool

“What’s the worst that could happen?” Pezzutto summarizes the non-consequences best, “People will say this sucks?”

Advised in jazz dens, scribbled by beatniks, and nodded during the reigns of rock and grunge; the word ‘cool’ has survived decades of discourse. As slang, its meaning is spongy. It has absorbed changes with the times and at present purveys a nuance as twofold as its spelling. Behind one ‘o’ is a light offhandedness and behind the other, a heavy measurement of self-worth.

Adrien Teacher, Amanda Pezzutto and Shawn Mrazek

Adrien Teacher, Amanda Pezzutto and Shawn Mrazek

Embracing this multi-faceted term is Vancouver funk trio Cool. Formed in June of last year, Cool is comprised of former Apollo Ghosts members Adrian Teacher (guitar) and Amanda Pezzutto (bass), as well as Shawn Mrazek (drums) of Shawn Mrazek Lives! This superstar group enjoys how casual and commonplace their title is — though they also invite its more contemplative connotations.

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Teenagre

“Our songs are sort of prom-sounding. We think about that a lot—prom bands and through the ages how they’re kind of the same but also really reflect each of those ages. There’s an innocence implied in that that we’re interested in.”

It’s one of those sleepy winter afternoons that could easily pass for spring. The sun hangs lazily in the waning hours of daylight as I make my way down Kingsway towards Our Town Cafe for my interview with Teenagre. Inside the cafe, there’s a familiar hum of steaming milk, roasters and patrons lost in thought.

Matthew Friesen, Eva Prkachin and Erik Hermans

Matthew Friesen, Eva Prkachin and Erik Hermans

The band are in good spirits, looking relaxed and cheerful as they settle in with hot beverages and cookies in hand. Though violinist Zuzia Juskiewicz is absent for the interview—currently doing an artist residency in New York—I’m still joined by the rest of Teenagre: bassist Matthew Friesen, guitarist Eva Prkachin, and drummer Erik Hermans.

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Reef Shark

“There’s no time limit because we’re so small and no one really knows about us and no one’s like, ‘When’s that album coming out?’ So we’d rather do it well.”

“That’s the good thing about being good friends in a band. You can just, like, shit on each other.” It’s late on a Wednesday afternoon and I’m sitting in a half-empty Caffè Brixton with both members of Reef Shark, one of Vancouver’s latest garage pop bands. Over a pint of pale ale, singer/guitarist Devin Miller is explaining to me the benefits of being so close to his bandmate.

 

Garth Covernton and Devin Miller

Garth Covernton and Devin Miller

Drummer Garth Covernton is quick to chime in: “Once I told Devin he was playing guitar like the Edge. He got really offended and was mad at me for half an hour, but it was fine after that.” The pair are disarmingly comfortable with each other.

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Here’s the Thing

Fat Man Lookin' in a Blade of Steel

Eight years ago, my parents came to visit me in Vancouver for the first time. I greeted my shaken mother at the backdoor of my cramped Davie Street basement suite and the first words out of her mouth were, “You’re moving.” I immediately regretted giving them directions that took them down Hastings Street.

Discorder_DTES

It took some persuading, but I finally convinced my parents that I lived far enough from the alarming sights of the Downtown Eastside and that I would be safe. Last month, my parents themselves made the permanent move to Vancouver and to their credit even took in the Pigeon Park Street Market last Sunday. Sure, they had mistaken it for a farmer’s market from afar and didn’t stay long but I was impressed with my mother’s evolved opinion of the area. Having spent more time exploring the Downtown Eastside through her visits—and now as exploration as part of her own backyard—she’s moved past her snap-judgements from that initial drive years earlier.

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In Good Humour

Aaron Read

If you were to call Aaron Read a weird guy, he’d probably take it as a compliment. As a member of The Sunday Service, arguably Vancouver’s most prominent improv troupe, Read is a comedian who lives for absurdity, risk-taking, and strong characters.

AARUNDRAWN2_tosize

“I think some of that came from doing art school and getting into Mike Kelley or Paul McCarthy, where they focus on these really strange, grotesque things like vomiting or bodily mutilation,” says Read. “I think a lot of that weird, fucked up shit gets translated into a more palatable form that I like presenting, that strangeness and that weirdness.”

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Filmstripped

Pussy Riot won’t stay quiet

When Madonna strips her shirt off mid-concert to reveal “Free Pussy Riot” written on her back, you get a sense of just how significant the Russian activist group’s sacrifices have become.

Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot

In February of 2012, five young women donning brightly coloured balaclavas staged an impromptu air-guitar punk-rock performance at a Moscow Orthodox cathedral, singing “Mother of God, Rid Us of Putin” and calling for a separation of the church from the state. They had barely started their performance before they were escorted out, an incident which would lead to the arrest of three of the performers the following month.

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Zoo Age

“The disagreements we have are never about power. Any disagreements we have are situational and specific... They are discussions about how to best serve our ideas.”

Some musical partnerships are simply meant to be.

Tyler Greentree and Chris Von Szombathy

Tyler Greentree and Chris Von Szombathy

Take Chris Von Szombathy and Tyler Greentree, for example. It was only by chance that the two of them met at Ms. T’s Cabaret, an old venue on Pender Street, back in 2003. Von Szombathy was playing bass as part of an improvisational performance; Greentree, who was in the audience, immediately fell in love with the band playing onstage. But it was the bass player in particular who caught Greentree’s eye.

“I remember that night meeting [Von Szombathy] and his then girlfriend and really loving the show,” explains Greentree. “I ended up getting a gig at [the same venue] a few months later, and it burned down just a few days before I was supposed to play the show.” Through the ashes of Ms. T’s Cabaret, a musical partnership between Von Szombathy and Greentree was born. Three years later, the duo released their first album, Atlantis, under the name Tour de Fours.

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