Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Get In The Trench

I'm sure that everyone has read the Exclaim! article on the Vancouver "Weird-Punk" scene (really? Weird Punk? I tend to think Devo when I think weird punk, and Vancouver doesn't have anything remotely like that. How's about just plain ol' punk?), and I figured I would weigh in on the article.

There have been a few complaints about it within the scene but also some praise for it. I'm still on the fence. While it's great to see that the scene is finally getting some recognition, I still have a few problems with the article. My main issue is that it's written by one Josiah Hughes. Nice enough fellow, in fact, he was good friends with an ex-girlfriend of mine so I got to know him a little bit. Here's the problem: he lives in fucking Calgary. The first tip-off that the article was written by someone well out of the scene was when he mentioned pints of Guinness at the Cobalt. I only wish they served Guinness there. Surely Exclaim! could've hired a writer from Vancouver who had actually been to see some of the shows at Fake Jazz or the ER. The experience of seeing these shows live is what truly makes this current scene standout. There have been numerous releases from INW, Thankless, Rundownsun, Nominal etc carefully documenting the scene over the last few years, yet none of them compare to seeing these acts live. Watching Sick Buildings, Twin Crystals, Mutators or the myriad of other local and touring bands demolish the ER is an astonishing experience to behold. How can someone from another city write an honest article on a scene they haven't been involved with?

Here lies my second complaint: why didn't someone from Vancouver get off their ass and write the damn article them self instead of having an ex-pat from BC do the dirty work? Is this another symptom of the typical apathetic Vancouver attitude, or did we just want to keep this our little secret for as long as possible? I sincerely hope it's the latter.

Well, now that our little secret is out across Canada, what do we do about it and how do we keep it vital? One fellow blogger has a few tips that are definitely worth thinking about as the scene slowly gains more exposure.

Until the whole thing falls off the rails or all the bands move to Montreal, please go out and buy some of the many tapes, CDR, 7"s and LPs for sale at these local shows. Keep the scene movin' on up.


Anonymous said...

article was descent, it;s just good somebody is bringing it to the whole country


Bobert said...

But Mark, isn't a scene soooo much better when it's so closed off and hard to access? When it's a constant round robin of incestual artistic pairings, forming and reforming until the right combination of ideas spews forth? Honestly, I hate how fucking 'underground' everything has to be, I liked being able to see local bands and all that shit years ago, now if you don't have some hip buddy who knows what's going down, joe shmoe doesn't get to know what the fuck is happening in this city and continues listening to Three Doors Down. This coolster segregation has got to cease. I'm not saying that all these small secret venues are totally lame, but it's kind of shitty that we pride ourselves on these itty bitty tiny shows that only a few of our little buddies get to goto.

Mark E. Rich said...

Many of these shows that are "itty bitty" tend to be of the noise variety, so it's usually not in those bands' best interest to promote the show heavily. That being said, there is still Fake Jazz, which is advertised throughout the city, and if people don't even know about that weekly even, then why should they be informed of smaller events. Agreed, the scene can be a little cliquey (is that a word?) and shut off from the overground but most of that is due to the serious lack of decent, legal venues to play. Most of these bands are forced to seek alternatives, which is something that the article did a good job of getting across. So, if you have illegal spaces, how can you heavily advertise these shows? Besides, Vancouver is a lot smaller than most people realize. The scene may, in fact, have reached a plateau. We can only wait and see.

Quinn said...

I stand by my comment about not being able to do a better job anyhow, but the thought's crossed my mind for sure. That said, the only national music publication I do anything for is Chart and I figured the sort of things that Josiah covered were below their radar (ie: I'd get a thanks, but no thanks).

The other thing, that you touched on above, is the question of exactly how much you can flaunt the fact that so many of the best performances that go on here happen in blatantly illegal or quasi-legal situations. The cops obviously know these types of things exist and tend to leave them be right now, but who knows what could happen if the wrong person gets ticked off.

Mark E. Rich said...

I have been reading your blog for a few years and your reviews in Color (whom we both work for) and i'm positive that you could have done an article as good or even better. Not saying that it rests on your shoulders, I just wish someone from Vancouver who was involved within scene in one form or another had written the article. I suppose that if I was into similar music and lived in St. Johns that the article would have been informative. Not much heart involved but it sure does name all the right places and people.

I'm sure that whoever reads Chart wouldn't really be too interested in an article on underground Vancouver punk. It's probably for the best that you kept it under your hat.

As for the quasi-illegal venues, let's just hope and pray this thing doesn't turn into a Biltmore type situation. Actually, I'm a lot more worried about something going truly awry at one of these gigs (ie. a cracked skull or stabbing) that would end up attracting the attention of the media. That would surely shut everything down.

Yessica said...

Mark E Mark
How did you end up in Only? Two clicks from Beyond Robson and suddenly i'm at your blog. How bizarre. I'd forgotten all about it.


Mark E. Rich said...


Someone at Only took exception to my article on the Vancouver "weird" punk scene. Funny thing is, i'm pretty positive that it stems from a comment I left on Beyond Robson. After an awful guest brew by one of the dudes from Only, I left a comment below calling Only a 3way tumblr circle jerk, which it is. Apparently, one of the writers decided to defend his crumbling rag by making my article a headline. Man, being dissed in Only is kinda like being a Don't in Vice, except no one reads Only anymore, so it becomes a tree falling in the woods-type scenario. I guess you heard the tree fall, though.