Your home and my desired native land! S omething something something We stand on guard for thee! My journey to the great white north got off to an undesirable start. First off, I missed opening night of Rifflandia because I could not get off of work in time to catch DJ Shadow or Killer Mike. Sigh. I have missed Killer Mike twice in the span of thirty days and it’s driving me crazy. His newest album R.A.P Music is going to end up on a bunch of “Best Album of 2012″ lists and I wasn’t there to see any of it! Combine that with the fact that I’ve listened “Pre-Emptive Strike” and “Entroducing” more times than I’ve listened to advice from family members, my absence from DJ Shadow’s late night set grated on my nerves. Pout. Petulant tantrum. Yankee rage. Friday wasn’t any smoother. I had a shaky lodging situation that had me looking at the gorgeous festival handbook rather than being at the actual festival for quite sometime. Eventually all of that was resolved and I found myself getting into the heart of Rifflandia just as the Flaming Lips were finishing up. Whatever. I’m familiar enough with the band enough to have some sort of idea what happened before my arrival. Judging from the enthusiasm of the crowd, I am assuming they played very well. I even heard a giddy fan squeal, “They played ‘Vaseline!’” I wanted to yell, “That’s not the name of the song!” but I refrained from doing so.
The first band I caught happened to be performing in a church that has been transformed into an “adjectives can not due me justice” music conservatory/performance hall (Alix Goolden Hall). It was a pretty incredible thing to walk into. The band I witnessed wasn’t too bad either. In fact, I think they were pretty darn fantastic. Leisure Suit remind me of a pleasant cross between Sound Team
(I fucking love this band!), Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah with minimal amounts of The Sea and Cake. Basically numerous bands with connecting words in their title. They put on the type of performance I felt fortunate to be a part of. Even though everyone was seated I still felt alive. There were times where they produced sounds that made me feel like I was watching large icebergs melt at race car pace, captured by the slight hands of time-lapse cinematography. Other times I felt like I was in a dark lounge where nobody wanted to talk to me. Sometimes life is like that. It’s alright because the music is a good, silent accomplice in crimes not yet done. The last song Leisure Suit played was a brand new song they had never played publicly before. If they hadn’t announced that prior to beginning the number, nobody in the ocean blue lit room would have noticed. They ended the powerful closer to a standing ovation. I imagine the extra enthusiastic audience appreciation wasn’t solely taking place because nobody was standing before the set ended. Seattle, I sincerely think you’ll like this band. If you can click on their name, you can download their self-titled EP for free (or you can be a good human and make a generous donation).
On my way to see Victoria’s own, The Chantrelles in a bar on Broad St., I saw a woman pull over her car and get out crying/screaming. Apparently some skateboarders smashed out some of the windows of her SUV. I’m not sure what took place before pricey confrontation happened but skateboarding sure is different across the boarder.
Skateboarding is not a crime. I’ve never seen “Motown” music done “internationally” before, it gave me a weird feeling. The Chantrelles are a part of that “soul revival” thing that all the kids are into these days. Musically, they pack more a punch than their peers because they are an 8-piece band. I like their lead singers vocals, they are a bit rough but it gives them a distinction that is quite necessary. During their song “Goodnight Sweetheart,” (which was dedicated to all the lovers, meaning everyone except me) both lead and backing vocals were on full display. I thought the song sounded great. The last song I remember documenting (and probably the last song they performed) was another “throwback” gem, “Everybody Knows (It Ain’t No Secret).” If you were at Pickathon (or even know who the following band is) and you liked Lake Street Dive, I’d bet a couple packages of Ramen noodles that you’d like this band. I’m poor, Ramen is basically the gold standard in my cupboard. Don’t take this wager lightly.
After I left The Chantrelles and their sold-out audience, I went on a serious quest to find Indian Handcrafts and Fucked-Up. Unfortunately for me, the original venue the bands were supposed to play at was switched. This left me and my “new to Victoria” self out of luck. I wandered the streets looking for “Sopranos” (the venue, not the ill-fated HBO drama). I ended up talking to one of the skateboarders who got arrested. Apparently it was a “big misunderstanding” and he was handcuffed for no reason. Everyone is the good guy in their personal recollections. He also said something about a guy punching him in the face, stealing his passport and selling it back to him. It was probably that Birdhouse deck, bro. You know better than that. I finally found the hot, sweaty interiors of Sopranos and caught the last two or three songs by Indian Handcrafts. They were energetic, loud, basically all those adjectives that you want “punk” bands to embody. If Death From Above 1979 had no idea what dancing was and just listened to punk bands that wished they were Black Sabbath, that’s kind of what Indian Handcrafts sound like. I’d never seen Fucked Up before so I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was basically a more psychotic, less artsy version of Les Savy Fav. No complaints here. I’ve liked Les Savy Fav since I first got my driver’s license like 40 years ago. In fact, I might have still been on my learner’s permit but I’m so old the memories are foggy. Fucked Up played with an energy that kind of remind me of Avail way back when.
God, those Avail shows in the 1990s were something fucking incredible. I didn’t know any of their songs but it didn’t matter. I was really into it. Laughing every couple minutes at the antics of frontman Damian Abraham. When he wasn’t using the microphone cord as an instrument of bondage, he was talking about record stores, Sloan and Highlander. There were people sitting down and I had no idea how they were exercising such restraint. I was feeling pure joy, shouting along to “The Other Shoe” even though I only knew a few words. Fucked Up was incredible. Definitely one of the highlights of my Rifflandia experience.
Read more about Phil’s Rifflandia experience, Dan Mangan, Sloan, Bar Hopping, Saul Williams and more.