Ice Cream Social
Music: ’50s and ’60s jams
DJs: Tyler Fedchuk, Cam Dales, Trevor Risk
Cover: free before 11 p.m., $6 after
Drink Specials: $4 singles, $7.25 doubles, $4.50 Bottles of Kokanee
Out of every bar and club night that I’ve ever been to in Vancouver, Ice Cream Social would probably be my pick for the best music. At the very least, they play the best tunes for dancing. It’s pretty rare that I make an appearance on the dance floor, but when they’re playing this music—think the Supremes, Jackie Wilson, Chuck Berry, the Beatles—then I’m out there cutting a rug.
And so is everyone else (albeit in a much more coordinated and rhythmic manner). I don’t think I’ve ever seen another club with such a high proportion of the guests dancing—on a Monday night no less! At the night’s swingin’ peak (around 1 a.m.) on my most recent visit, I would estimate that 95 per cent of the clientele were twisting the night away and singing along. There were almost no wallflowers in this crowd. Bonus: they played one of my all-time favourite songs: Jimmy Soul’s “If You Wanna Be Happy.”
Ice Cream Social has been going strong for three years now and during that time it’s moved to Honey from its original home at Shine. It caters to a pretty diverse crowd of guys and gals (and noticeably more gals than guys, at least on my visit), mostly in their 20s and early 30s, but with some older than that. It’s such a pleasant crowd that it’s difficult to imagine anyone not feeling welcome. People seem to be more concerned with enjoying themselves than with looking cool (but that’s not to say that there won’t be some exceptionally stylish hip cats, because there certainly will be).
It’s also the only night in town that plays music that my father would like, at least until someone starts “Tony Bennett Tuesdays.”
Wednesday (except the last Wednesday of the month)
Venue: The Anza
Music: Rare early psychedelia
DJs: Joshua Magneticring and Brother Joe
Drinks: $3.75 bottles of Rocky Mountain Pilsner, $4.50 pints of Big Rock Traditional Ale
Situated closer to Main street than downtown, Psych Night is almost a neighbourhood hangout for music heads in East Van. There’s less dancing at this weekly than most as it is more suitable for conversation over a few pints (or a joint beforehand, if that’s your thing). The night is a great place to go if you’re looking for somewhere to drink on a Wednesday and of course if you are interested in psychedelic music. The music is from the extensive collection of the Joshua Magneticring and Brother Joe, who obsessively collect old psych music from the ’60s and ’70s. They mostly play off of their computers.
“The advantage of the computer is that we can play stuff that you couldn’t even find [physical] copies of,” said Magneticring.
“If you could find the record you’d be paying $1,000 for it,” Magneticring went on with a chuckle.
They play predominately psych, but aren’t strict and will stray into other related genres. The night has been going for two-and-a-half years now and reached a peak of popularity over the summer, which made the Anza enforce a $2 cover on the night.
“The Anza had to start doing that because it kinda got too crazy for awhile,” said Magneticring. If the night dies down, the cover might disappear. It’s in place to keep things from getting too busy, not to make the organizers loads of cash.
Venue: The Astoria
DJs: Sex Attack!
Drinks: $3.75 beers, $3.75 shots, $5.50 doubles
Maybe it’s where society is damaged. Maybe it’s damaging boundaries. Maybe it’s the remaining damages from a party gone overboard. I don’t know, but I might have brain damage after a night of Pilsners and Jäger, Fireball and tequila. But who could resist those prices?
“It’s where the poor kids come to drink,” joked Damaged Goods promoter Dustin Bromley. (More like punks meet hipsters meet… Vespa owners?) Though not surprising, the mandate is cheap drinks, considering the night was envisioned mid-bender by Bromley and co-promoters Jake Madison and Jordan Hudson. Aside from an easy time on the wallet, Damaged Goods has some interesting substance to it.
Like the odd array of drink specials, this night has many different personas. The promoters are also the resident DJ team Sex Attack!, who share the decks and play smooth mixes from what I would call the anything/everything pile. Tunes are by Boney M, Springsteen, Queen, Little Richard and even Aqua; they definitely don’t lack imagination. Just to put in an extra component of schizophrenia, each week also features some independent live bands. They’ve had Colourbook, Defektors, Junior Major, MT-40, Fake Shark-Real Zombie and many others.
“Our goal is to promote great Vancouver music,” Bromley explained. “We want to get exposure for unknown bands. At the same time we tie in club music to attract that scene and show people where that music originates from.”
With some great intentions and a scheiße ball of influences, Damaged Goods becomes difficult to define musically. Bromley to tried to sum it up thoughtfully “ fun… metal…. aaand…[expletive deleted].”
He’s right. Damaged Goods definitely has a good sense of humour with a hard metal edge. And although this night’s “damage” may be a multiple personality disorder, there is something intriguing about never quite knowing what you can expect.
Venue: Biltmore Cabaret
DJs: My!Gay!Husband! & Sincerely Hana
Drink Specials: $3.50 cans of PBR, $4.00 Jäger & Fireball shots, $4.50 singles, $6.75 doubles
Glory Days had club patrons bumping and grinding until wallets fell out of back pockets. This event is great not only for pickpockets, however. A cold PBR and swaying to the beat make for a good time. Feet flooded the hardwood dance floor to hoof it for electro, house, oldies (but goodies), and an immense selection of remixes by DJs My!Gay!Husband!, Sincerely Hana, and on this night, special guest DJ Genie.
Tables fashioned out of old Pac-Man & Frogger video games were also a great way to take a well deserved break from the sweat-mongrels who populated the dance floor. The line-up for the bar was never too long, and the chairs were just comfortable enough to cradle a newborn infant. I can see why they’d have troubles ousting inebriated folk out of their leather backed horseshoe booths come closing time. If you imagine a comfy caravan with royal red wallpaper and an arcade game table you might get a faint idea about the decor.
Glory Days features electronic bands, and anything from psychedelic surf rock to the more non-chalant sounds of indie or New Wave. The stage is quaint, tucked neatly behind the dance floor to create an intimate live venue for music. The venue has featured such bands as the Blue Violets, Fan Death, MYTHS and often features special guest out-of-towners. The mood? I’d hate to stab this as a hipster hangout, it’s taboo these days. Everyone was just the right amount of friendly. The variety of people (and ages, mind you) was a wide spectrum, and nobody would be out of place here. Believe me—I went alone.
To experience the glory, one only needs rhythm and a small purse of change for cheap beer. Glory Days at the Biltmore Cabaret is, as the name states, a short trip into a hot nest of glory where there is cheap beer and amazing music.
No More Strangers
Venue: Funky Winkerbeans Smiley’s (for now)
Music: Indie pop and throwbacks
DJs: The winniecooper.net DJ collective: Tristan Orchard, Hunter Even and Christian Flores
Drinks: $1.50 beers, $3.50 Jäger shots, $3.75 singles, $6.50 doubles, $11 pitchers
[ed. When we covered this No More Strangers was still happening at Funky Winkerbeans. It has since moved, for more info on the reasons for this check out Venews]
The Vancouver music scene needs more people like Tristan Orchard, the organizer of No More Strangers, a showcase of local bands and DJs taking place every Saturday night at Funky Winkerbeans. In a recent phone conversation Orchard told me, “In the beginning the space wasn’t equipped for live gigs at all. I was doing everything, including renting and transporting the sound gear to and from Long & McQuade. It was slow at first but now No More Strangers seems to be gathering steam. It’s great to see.”
This past Saturday was no exception. “It was the most successful No More Strangers evening yet,” said Orchard. “We had some of the local scene’s best live bands playing to a packed house.” Mingling with the varied crowd, it was apparent that people wanted to see fresh new music, and though a large contingency of folks were there to witness Basketball, they were also quite receptive to whatever was put in front of them. Whether it was the fun DJ sets offered up by Orchard, Christian Flores in between bands, or the high energy acts themselves, the people were there to receive. The bands were fun and all put on a heck of a show. Boogie Monster, with its hyper-frenzied freak out noise jazz from another planet, impressed the crowd and set the stage for a blistering performance from electro pop-punks Gang Violence, who sounded fantastic and gave it their all. But this night truly belonged to Basketball, a Middle-Eastern influenced percussive dance outfit that gets bodies jumping. If music can get you high then these bands were the stimulant on this evening, and if interesting new music is your bag then No More Strangers is the place to be on a Saturday night.