Hello everyone, my name is Jake and I have recently joined the Y57 team as an online contributor. This means I will be writing and posting articles right here, on the Y57 website. This is my first piece, so I thought I would give myself a short introduction!
I attended a couple of local gigs this past week, which proved to me the diversity of live music that is available to people of all ages in Vancouver (contrary to popular opinion). I spent March 20th and March 24th at two different events: one with many artists on the bill, and the other with only a few. All of the musicians I saw were extremely talented, and I’ll talk about the ones I particularly enjoyed further on.
The first event was Freak Scene at the Astoria Pub on Hastings, and the second was Alea Rae/The Ashley Hundred at The Matador. Anyone familiar with all ages music scene in Vancouver has probably been to, or heard of, The Matador. It’s a 10 minute walk from Renfrew Skytrain station, and has become one of the most popular all ages venues in Vancouver. I love it for its intimacy. The Matador is definitely one of my favourite places to listen to live music.
…it’s not just Vancouver bands that are ridiculously talented, but Canadian bands in general.
The Astoria Pub is well-known amongst Vancouverites, and Freak Scene was my first time there. I loved the layout inside, where two stages allow one band to set up while another performs. The billiards tables and arcade machines created a laid back atmosphere, and Astoria felt like a nice place to hang out.
Let’s move to the musicians themselves. Freak Scene on Sunday had 13 different artists performing. I only caught the last 7, starting with Phono Pony. They are an “Indie Strange” act from Vancouver, and the strong female vocals and powerful chords reminded me of a Burger Records band, Cherry Glazerr. The next two bands, Frogpile and The Jins, were both quite similar guitar-driven rock bands. They were clearly inspired by other psychedelic rock bands, like Tame Impala, or “trash rock” artists like Mac Demarco. I was particularly impressed with the way Frogpile switched between chords and riffs on rhythm guitar.
Sat on stage with only a taped up electro-acoustic guitar and a sound board, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
One artist that really stood out for me was Johnny de Courcy. Raised in New Westminster, he is one of the most talented musicians I’ve seen from the Lower Mainland. Sat on stage with only a taped up electro-acoustic guitar and a sound board, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When he started singing, I was blown away. The range in his voice is amazing, and his lyrics were so clever and witty that I actually started laughing at one point. The pinnacle of his performance for me was when his wife came on stage and sung backing vocals. The lyrics of that ballad were very different to the self-deprecating lyrics of his previous songs, and really showcased his lyrical diversity. Since the show, I have bought his Master Manipulator EP, and it’s only gotten better.
Fast forward to The Ashley Hundred and Alea Rae gig. The crowd there was a lot less rowdy, and a little older than Freak Scene; the mosh-pit at the Astoria was bumping all night long. Alea Rae aren’t exactly the easiest to jump around to, but this doesn’t mean they are any less enjoyable. Even they seemed surprised when a few guys at the front started pushing themselves around; after all, their constantly building, ambient folk was quite laid-back. A few of their songs did pack a punch, with the guitarist explaining that the punk he listens to inspires this.
The Ashley Hundred drove in from Alberta on the day of the concert. The crowd was buzzing with anticipation as they set up, and they did not disappoint. Something I really loved about them was their backing vocals. I think that not enough bands utilize a second voice enough, and this was something The Ashley Hundred did wonderfully. They were definitely one of the most talented bands I saw out of the two shows. They had it all: guitar, keyboards, and, as I mentioned, stellar backing vocals. They proved to me that it’s not just Vancouver bands that are ridiculously talented, but Canadian bands in general.