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By Johnny Papan

NOFX – Photo by Mike Bibby

PNE Amphitheatre
July 13, 2019

Bad Religion – Photo by Mike Bibby

A sea of studded vests, coloured mohawks and alcohol-glazed smiles flooded the PNE Amphitheatre for Punk In Drublic. Beer sample tokens were given to early-arriving patrons who enjoyed a selection of more than 40 local crafts beneath the clear blue sky. The stage was beautifully complemented by a mountain backdrop as The Last Gang took the stage around 2 pm.

Bad Religion – Photo by Mike Bibby

After explosive performances by Chixdiggit, the politically-charged Anti-Flag and Vancouver’s own Celtic-punk powerhouse The Real McKenzies, co-headliner Bad Religion commanded the stage with a mix of new tracks and classic fan-favourites, resulting in a unified echo of singing from the crowd throughout. After nearly 40 years on the mic, Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin has not lost a step in his voice.

NOFX – Photo by Mike Bibby

The night ended with punk-rock pranksters NOFX hitting the stage. Frontman Fat Mike stepped onstage in a burgundy dress as the band played hard-hitting tracks that unleashed chaos within the many mosh pits. The band conversed with crude banter between songs as Fat Mike took straight shots of liquor, slowly hitting a charmingly drunken-haze and sometimes forgetting what songs he was supposed to be playing. NOFX fans understand that it’s part of the show.

NOFX – Photo by Mike Bibby

The band ended their set with an ensemble dance number and a pre-recorded racy show-tune about how “everyone’s a little bit racist.”

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by Yasmine Shemesh

Alan Cross is at home in Oakville trying to open iTunes on his computer. The music historian, radio broadcaster and host of the long-running The Ongoing History of New Music documentary series is checking what the first song he downloaded was. But the now-defunct music application is frozen.

It’s fitting, considering Cross is in Vancouver this month hosting a discussion on how music is changing. An observer and passionate commentator on the intersection of music and technology, he’s well-versed in the topic.

Of course, iTunes, in 2003, marked a gargantuan change in the way we listen to music by allowing the purchase of individual songs instead of a full album. It was the start of a new era, leading to development of streaming platforms like Spotify where consuming music is now expected to be convenient and fast.

“People are choosing to gain music through access rather than through possession,” Cross says. He looked up the statistics this morning: CD sales are down 30% from this time last year and streaming is up 36%. And our need for accessibility is not just impacting format and sales. More importantly, it’s affecting the physical nature of music and our connection to it.

“Music conforms to the technology and the technology is responding to the way that we listen to music,” Cross explains. Songs, in turn, are adapting structurally in order to match what intelligence data says we want, getting shorter to hold our attention — because Spotify only pays artists if a stream lasts over 30 seconds.

“If you are a band like Tool who writes 10 minute epics, you’re not going to get any more money on a 10-minute song than another band does for a song that runs one minute and 27 seconds,” Cross posits.

This is nothing new. It’s another step in the evolution of the relationship between music and technology. “I mean, the reason we’re comfortable with songs that run for about three and a half minutes is because that was the ultimate capacity of a 78 RPM record,” Cross adds.

“Oh, god. It’s still chugging away here.”

Cross sighs. iTunes is still frozen. He says the first track he downloaded was probably a Radiohead one, though — “Everything in its Right Place.”

Nevertheless: as a consequence, convenient consumption has muddied our connection with music. As we’ve known it to be, at least. When you paid for a CD or record, you made a financial investment. Further, listening to an album over and over again and getting lost in cover art and liner notes fostered a special intimacy.

“That doesn’t exist anymore,” Cross says. “Because if you’re paying $10 a month, or sometimes nothing, to access over 50 million songs, where’s the financial relationship with the artist? And that is making music more disposable. That’s changing the way we value music. The cheaper music becomes, the less we value it. Now, that doesn’t mean to say that we don’t love music. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is that it is our relationship has changed to the point where we don’t feel [the] financial tug or personal investment we used to.”

If those things aren’t there, are we truly connecting? It’s certainly more complicated. There’s no context with things like data-driven recommendations curated to your tastes. It’s a passive experience. For some listeners, that’s enough. But for others, it leaves a gaping void. So, what to do? As with any format, we adapt. Find other ways, whether that’s being conscious about who we stream or supporting platforms like Bandcamp. It’s up to us, really.

“It’s a continuing evolution that music and technology have always been involved in,” Cross says. “It’s this dance. Once affects the other. And we’ve entered a new era and it will be interesting to see where it goes in the future. It all depends on the way we choose to consume the music.”

Alan Cross / July 17, 2019 / TILT Curiosity Labs at HCMA Architecture + Design / Tix: sidedooraccess.com

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By Kathryn Helmore

Transcending trends, making a statement and never succumbing to predictability is an art form few brands can maintain. Steeped in controversy and contradiction, Dr. Martens footwear has been a battle cry of fascist skinhead movements in the 70s, the punt of protest to 80s punk movements and accessorized ripped jeans and introspection as the footwear of 90s grunge.

As part of their AW 2019 line Dr. Martens have collaborated with touring British royalty The Who, once again proving that their boots don’t just walk, they talk.

The Who line captures the essence of Mod fashion culture: its boots, loafers and accessories subvert sacred symbols and pay homage to non-conformity.

With The Who arriving in Vancouver on October 21, this collab is a relevant throwback. Turn on “My Generation” and tune into the history, ideology and rebellion locked into the iconic stitching and grooved edges of this latest collection.

1460 WHO

Released April 1, 1960, the iconic 1460 rejected the timid, old-fashioned uniform of working class men. For the young generation, it was a tool of rebellion. With a Royal Air Force roundel at the heel, the 1460 WHO pays homage to The Who and Mod culture’s subversion of British symbolism and tradition.

Adrian Smooth
When paired with tailor-made suits with narrow lapels and Nouvelle Vague haircuts, the Adrian Smooth loafer, first released in 1980, was a disruption of gender roles. With the effeminate double tassel and kiltie fringe, combined with a Union Jack on the front panel, the Smooth Black is no exception.

1481 WHO

The second style Dr. Martens ever made, it was crafted for industry yet made a statement when worn with braces, close cropped haircuts and non-conformity.
The 1481 WHO Black Smooth replaces the trademark yellow stitching for a WHO red that complements the band’s symbol located at the heel.

The WHO Backpack

Crafted from the hardwearing Kiev Leather and designed with a double carry handle and a buckle-fastened external pocket, the backpack does what Dr. Marten’s and The Who do best: fuse performance with style and expression.

The Pressler WHO

Compared to its leather clad peers, The Pressler is more at home in a half pipe than a political rally. A modern skate shoe with a comfortable lightweight sole, this comparatively low profile piece is brought to life with the iconic WHO logo in the corner and red stripes decorating the shoe’s stitching and grooved edges.

The Toomey WHO

For those who wish to rail against conformity, The Toomey WHO is Doc Martens take on the slip-on canvas shoe. With a lightweight sole and aggressive bumper, decorated with the WHO roundel on the lip and signature red and blue arrows on the ridge, the shoe embodies Doc Marten’s commitment to practical and comfortable style.

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By Glenn Alderson

Photo: Renaud Philippe

The Plains Of Abraham (Festival d’été de Québec)
July 12, 2019

When it was first announced earlier in the day that Lil Pump would no longer be performing in Quebec City for Festival d’été as direct support for Gucci Mane due to “transportation issues,” there was immediate speculation circulating that the Trap God himself would be cancelling yet another Canadian performance.

Earlier this year the Atlanta born rapper cancelled a block of Canadian dates, which led fans to believe that what he rapped on his 2016 Drake collab, “Both,” would perhaps remain to be true — ”I’ve got so many felonies, I might can’t never go to Canada.” 

Turns out Drake pulled some strings after all and Gucci finally found some time in his calendar. Taking the stage while the sun was setting on the historic Plains of Abraham, he made sure his performance was worth the wait. The skies were clear, the summer air was warm and you could feel an undeniable energy pulsing through the crowd. Everything was in check for the perfect set, although someone forgot to tell Gucci where exactly in Canada he was performing. 

“Montreal where ya at?” Gucci shouted out into the sea of screaming fans who didn’t seem phased at all. It didn’t really matter because during his brief bass-heavy 45 minutes on stage, everyone was transported to Gucci’s bizarre world where grills are a rite of passage and trap music is life.

Gucci Mane is as OG as it gets in underground street rap with a prolific back catalogue and he made sure to remind everyone by dropping tracks dating as far back as 2006 with the Rick James-inspired “Freaky Girl,” all while weaving in and out of material from his solid 2019 album, Delusions Of Grandeur.

Performing most of the set shirtless with 20 pounds of bling around his neck, the huge smile on his face while he looked out at the raging mosh pit of rabid fans was infectious.

Gucci Mane is an icon and a legend and it might have taken more than a decade but he finally made it to Canada. Now that he’s proven he can cut his way through the red tape at the border, Canadians are sure to be welcoming him back again soon — as long as he can stay out of trouble in the meantime. Gucci!

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by Yasmine Shemesh

When Gary Cristall co-founded the Vancouver Folk Music Festival (VFMF) with Mitch Podolak in 1978, he was a self-professed political activist who saw the stage as a platform for exciting ideas. Forty-two years later, the festival has retained its progressive spirit alongside principles of inclusivity and environmental stewardship. According to artistic director Debbi Salmonsen, those ideals are what has kept the fest going all these years.

“Because of those values, people feel free to speak openly or identify however they wish to, and to speak to issues that might not be sanctioned at a festival that’s more corporate,” she says.

For Salmonsen, honouring the festival’s legacy is about creating a mosaic of music that reaches and respects a multigenerational audience in a broad way.

“Maintaining the festival’s artistic integrity, which has developed over many decades, is important,” Salmonsen adds. “Our festival has always been very proud to embrace diversity, gender identity, sexual orientation and various cultures of people from around the world.”

This all-encompassing sense of awareness is also reflected in VFMF’s goal of being zero-waste. They refuse to sell plastic bottles — you can bring your own refillable containers or buy one on-site — have a composting program, and work with the Parks Board, as Salmonsen says, “to leave every blade of grass as we found it.”

PICKS OF THE FEST

Zaki Ibrahim
The wracking emotion Zaki Ibrahim experienced with the death of her father and the birth of her son months apart fuelled her latest, The Secret Life of Planets. As joy met grief there, the South African-Canadian artist fuses all the different parts of herself to create a soulfully sci-fi sound.

Sunny War
Ever wondered what American blues legend Robert Johnson would sound like in 2019? With a claw-hammer style that recalls another time and a soul-rattling vibrato, Venice Beach busker Sunny War is the closest you’ll get to your answer.

Corb Lund
Backed by his band, the Hurtin’ Albertans, alt-cowboy crooner Cord Lund is a celebrated writer of agricultural tragedies; a real-deal Canadiana troubadour who is also dynamite on the guitar.

Basia Bulat
If you’re looking for Good Advice — which also happens to be the name of Basia Bulat’s heartbreakingly beautiful new album — we suggest going see the chanteuse perform live with her signature auto-harp.

Larkin Poe
They might be descendants of Edgar Allan Poe, but sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell are brilliantly unsettling in their own right, performing a unique brand of spooky Southern Gothic-tinged blues.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Where: Jericho Beach Park
When: July 19-21, 2019
Tix: $40-$175: thefestival.bc.ca

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By Sebastian Buzzalino

Sunglaciers // A Different Place (Official Video) - YouTube

Modern, surf-styled post-punks, sunglaciers, have a way with style. The Calgary band’s dancy, forward-facing jams straddle the line between vintage summer vibes and a not-too-distant future of art-school camaraderie. 

Their debut album, Foreign Bodies, is due out in September and sunglaciers are unveiling single video collaborations with artists across Canada leading up to its release. Their first, “A Different Place,” features the cut-up stylings of Heather Rappard, who has also done work with post punk acts Tough Age and Ought. 

Angular guitar lines jump across quick-cut 35mm film scans as Rappard makes a collage out of furtive glances, swollen eyes and evening skies to match the song’s frenetic, over-caffeinated pace.

“Our primary aim for this and future videos is to collaborate with certain specific artists and basically let them run with it,” says frontman Evan Resnick. “We gave [Rappard] the reins and the result is a really cool, dizzyingly fast-paced trip.”

The video is mostly made up from hundreds of scanned and cropped 35mm photos. 

“I felt the look of the warm, blown-up film grain suited the hazy distortion of the song,” says Rappard. “The disjointed style of this type of animation matched the song’s post-punk percussion.”

The result hits straight to the heart of sunglaciers’ vibe, an endless summer night of ripping around on bikes and swimming in rivers that fuels the forever young.

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By Glenn Alderson

Photo: Renaud Philippe

The Plains Of Abraham (Festival d’été de Québec)
July 11, 2019

The once crowned queen of R&B, Mariah Carey is one of the original 21st Century divas and every once in a while a queen needs to reclaim her crown.

Not many other artists have stood as tall in the world of pop and R&B as Carey and when she took the stage at the historic Plains of Abraham in Quebec City on Thursday night, the iconic pop diva not only proved she’s still standing, but that it was going to take more than a little rain to stop her from delivering a memorable performance chock-full of hits.

Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ) is infamous for delivering big-name music acts over the course of its eleven days and Mariah Carey brought a nice touch of femininity to an otherwise masculine roster of headliners. 

Her public persona has been understandably shaky since her infamous New Year’s Eve debacle in NYC back in 2016 but Carey rose to the occasion for her only Canadian appearance this summer to prove she has risen above and beyond the meme-worthy backing track train wreck or any Christmas-themed comeback tours.

Carey came out wearing a sequinned dress that sparkled like a disco ball as she slowly shimmied across the stage that was quickly turning into a miniature wading pool as the rainfall started to pick up. 

She kicked off her set with “A No No” from her excellent 2018 album, Caution, but didn’t waste much time before breaking into the hits that everyone came to hear like “Dreamlover,” “Touch My Body” and of course, “Heartbreaker.” 

“I should probably take these shoes off but I can’t even do it myself so I’m just going to stand here so I don’t slip and fall,” Carey said as she asked for a mic stand that planted her beside her piano player to let her gold-plated voice soar on “We Belong Together.” 

Hitting vocal octaves that rivalled infamous soul legend Minnie Ripperton, all of the divas who came before Carey were clearly still shining down on her from the heavens while she stood tall in the face of a downpour, proving a little water wasn’t going to wash away her crown.

Photo: Renaud Philippe

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By Jaime Eisen

Photo by Jen Squires

It’s soundcheck on Monday night during Toronto’s NXNE music and gaming festival and the back room of the Horseshoe Tavern feels like a family reunion. A tight group of smiling musicians are onstage jamming with Josh Q of Iqaluit blues outfit The Trade-Offs. Each member is taking their turn to solo before coming back together.

“I feel like I haven’t hung out with my buddies in a long time,” says Q into the mic with a laugh.

His buddies are The Jerry Cans, pioneers of the burgeoning Iqaluit music scene and curators of the second Nunavut Music Week, which ran from April 25 to 28, and its subsequent NXNE showcase. While Jerry Cans bassist Brendan “Dotes” Doherty and drummer Steve Rigby play onstage, frontman Andrew Morrison dances with his infant daughter to songs she obviously knows well.

They’re far from home, but they’re in their element.

Friends since childhood, Dotes, Morrison and Rigby started The Jerry Cans around a decade ago, playing classic rock covers at Iqaluit music hub, the Legion. Their self-described “Northern sound”—Celtic-inspired folk rock with reggae beats paired with traditional throat singing and lyrics sung in Inuktitut—didn’t emerge until Nancy Mike (accordion and throat singing) and Gina Burgess (violin) joined the group. The combined punctuation of Burgess’ high-energy fiddle and Mike’s throat singing give the roots rock base a distinctive cross-cultural feel.

Their sound may have many shifting influences, but it’s always pointedly indebted to their home.

Mike and Morrison—also romantic partners—write most of the lyrics together in Inuktitut, one of the principal Inuit languages of Canada, considered “vulnerable” by UNESCO. They rarely sing in English, even translating covers.

“We’ve gotten hate mail about how the frontman of this band is white,” Mike says. “But he speaks Inuktitut because my family was supportive of him learning it throughout our relationship.” Conversations about accountability are essential to the group, even more so after a group of Inuit artists boycotted this year’s Indigenous Music Awards over cultural appropriation concerns.

“We always try to listen to what our communities are saying these days about how we should move forward as a band,” says Mike. “We don’t ever want to move forward if people are uncomfortable with what we are doing.”

Photo by Jen Squires

Mike and her bandmates want to make sure Inuit voices are being heard—across the country, but also at home.

“When you come from such a small place where there’s absolutely no history of this music business infrastructure, you have to figure out how to do it yourselves, and that’s what we did,” she says. “When it comes to Nunavut Music Week, our goal is to make sure the younger artists don’t have to struggle through the same shit we had to go through.”

Inuit Association executive director Brian Winters echoes this sentiment in between sets later in the evening. He’s a huge fan of The Jerry Cans and the lineup of Indigenous artists they’ve curated for their NXNE showcase.

“One of the biggest issues with the country we live in that we now call Canada is that it’s never recognized or made space for our languages or the things we’re saying,” he says. “The things we’re saying are so important—especially in our language. For people to hear that and respect that is just really beautiful.”
The crowd swells around the stage when The Jerry Cans start to play. Some are fans from back home, wearing hats that proudly say “Inuk” and singing along in a language they all seem to know well. Many are hearing the band play for the first time. Everyone is transfixed.

When asked how they approach bringing their unique northern sounds to a southern audience, Mike is quick to respond. “Do I have to explain anything to a southern audience?” she asks with a shrug. “Just hear it and feel it. That’s all.”

The Jerry Cans perform Sunday, July 28 at Squamish Constellation Festival and Saturday, August 3
at the Canmore Folk Music Festival

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The music community on Vancouver Island has a bright new future to look forward to after a recent acquisition by national entertainment company, The MRG Group. Atomique Productions, Victoria, BC’s longest running independent concert promotion and production company, announced today they have joined forces with The MRG Group, giving the West Coast music community a new lease on life.

“We are excited to work with The MRG Group to continue to bring world class concerts and events to Victoria and Vancouver Island,” said Atomique’s co-founder, Nick Blasko in a press release announcing the merger. 

The MRG Group also announced their purchase of The Capital Ballroom, a 575 capacity concert hall in Victoria, BC. This is their first venue on Vancouver Island, joining a collection of premiere live venues across the country, including Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret and the Vogue Theatre, The Garrick in Winnipeg and Toronto’s Adelaide Hall.

“We are proud of the work we’ve done over the past three years to create Victoria’s best live music venue, and we look forward to seeing The MRG Group continue this legacy as our city grows,” said Dylan Willows, president and director of The Capital Ballroom. 

This marks The MRG Group and MRG Concerts’ entry into Vancouver Island’s concert and event business, which includes the return of Rifflandia Music and Arts Festival in 2020. While Rifflandia had announced their plans to take 2019 off to regroup, music fans can look forward to thoughtful and diverse music programming throughout the year at the Capital Ballroom and the return of the diverse multi-day multi-venue arts festival next year.

“My colleagues and I have a lot of respect for Nick, Dimitri and their team,” said MRG president Matt Gibbons. “We are excited to use our national presence to bring more experiences to Vancouver Island and build on the history and commitment to concerts and events that Atomique has cultivated on Vancouver Island.”

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by Christine Leonard

Photo by Richmond Lam

Like the sound of the sky rending open, Toronto-based progressive art-rock collective Yamantaka // Sonic Titan enter the summer festival season. They are a musical meteorite streaking towards the planet’s surface and an explosive force of nature. The gender-bending experimentalists will be staging their psychedelic space-metal operas at Canadian dates including Yellowknife’s Folk on the Rocks, the River & Sky camp-out in Field, ON and Victoria’s Phillips Backyard Weekender.

Holding a mirror up to the status quo, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan appropriates elements of pop, rock and heavy metal and blends them through influences gleaned from Buddhist, Haudenosaunee and First Nations traditions, along with their own mixed Asian-European heritages. Embedded in manga art, video games and science fiction themes, their enthralling tracks are ablaze with socio-political commentary.

DIRT, their latest album released in 2018, is no exception. The album revolves around the story of abandoned turtle starship, Anowara, and the heroine Aentsik’s quest to collect the final remnant of arable soil. It’s the same edict the ecologically-minded band has espoused since the beginning: “If the trees die, we die,” says founding member and percussionist, Alaska B.

“I think we are concerned about the same things any reasonable person should be concerned with: anthropogenic climate change, plastic pollution, overuse of antibiotics, animal extinction, unsustainable agriculture, pollution, corporate and government surveillance Indigenous rights, human rights, transphobia, sexism, racism, homophobia,” continues Alaska.

“Our music is often interpreted to focus entirely around the cultural identity politics, but the lyrical content and themes in our art all deal with the suffering of living beings, environmentalism and the inevitability of death.”

It’s a tall order for humanity, let alone a fringe-dwelling Canadian rock band, but if anyone’s up to the challenge, it’s the self-defining, fire-spitting, world-shaking, dirt-venerating music collective and theatre company who has earned the surname Sonic Titan.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan perform Thursday, July 11  at 9910 (Edmonton), Saturday, July 13  at The Palomino (Calgary) and  Sunday, July 28 at the Phillips Backyard Weekender (Victoria)

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