Maybe if the road map came out once a week I might
be able to catch up on shows that I saw almost a year ago. However, the
gig diary is bulging at the seams and rather than printing old show reviews
that no one cares about with bands no one cares about, I've decided to
give you a regular column with some of the scene highlights since last
issue's diary. I do have some old reviews written if anyone wants to see
them, just ask, but I might just as easily admit to myself that we could
all give a fuck.
I've also terminated the Rumor Mill section because it was cheesy and impersonal. From now on if a listing isn't here and it was listed in the previous map, that project is probably dead. That includes all the bands who are breaking up.
I hope to use this space to comment on good BC bands (who aren't broken up yet), spread info on successful shows and the people behind them, raise issue with the plague of scene boneheads, and maybe provide some pointers for you aspiring DIY-ers out there in reader land.
OK, last summer we did a youth jam in a hardware store's parking lot. The staff were very accommodating with setting up our shit and even helped us build a riser. We made it an open stage so that anyone could jump up there and do their thing in front of the local show-goers. A steady outdoor crowd of 60-80 people seemed to dig the local sounds and were more than happy to pay the $2 donation. If any stores you know are willing to let you use their parking lot or indoor space for a couple hours, this kind of set-up can be rewarding. Seeing all of these different bands and people get together and give Powell River's stir crazy youth something to do, even just for one night, was inspiring.
My friend Dan did another show last summer that really flopped. Here's some things that went wrong: Dan was pretty much invisible the whole night and left me and a couple of others to handle all of the stressful lowlights like dealing with cranky senior citizens in the legion upstairs, blown fuses and a painful scramble to find the fuse box, a turn-out of about 20 people, and rock star bullshit laid on by out of town cheesehead bands. Avoid the band Ted at all costs. These fucking guys were sexist meatheads with asinine lyrics, and flagrant disrespect for the rules of the hall, the kids in attendance, and the safety of the sound equipment. Celestial Magenta were responsible for bringing along BC's stupidest band. Dan felt bad afterwards, especially about Ted whom he'd never heard before, and he has yet to try his hand at putting on another show. Dan - get back on the horse before I beat it to death.
Powell River's biggest turn-out for a long while was last August when Tom and Sarah from Cellophayne did a Render Useless show at the Scout Hall. These folks put so much sweat into getting people out and decorated the hall up all nice. It's the little things that can make a difference between 20 and 100 people showing up. Booking three local bands with three different fan bases was also an ingenious idea that worked out great (well, save for the fact that Return To Sender have no fans and Flunky's fans are a bunch of fuck-ups who caused unwanted commotion in the parking lot and tried to sneak-in all night). Some people should clue in that stealing from the scene that entertains and enriches you is like stealing from yourself, because when there are no more shows it will be all your fucking fault, you ignorant pions!
Return To Sender played a street festival in Powell River at the end of last summer, managed to scare a few people and bring a few more to tears. No shit, I kid you not. I highly encourage political/punk bands to play outside of the punk scene once in awhile just to see the response of ignorant fucks when you challenge their fragile mainstream capitalist beliefs. A definite change from the "nod my head, I know that already" punk scene.
A quick mention of the benefit show to free Wolverine that was put on by Jen and Andy from Submission Hold at Seylynn Hall on August 30/97. They raised a huge amount of money for the ongoing fight for Native land rights near Gustafson Lake in the interior of BC. Good work, Jen and Andy. By the way, the Propagandhi crowd that sprung out the woodwork with fists flailing as soon as the Winnipegers hit the stage should find a new scene to infest. Settle down, you fucking muscleheads!
Oh, Jen and Andy pretty much stopped doing shows in their basement last September with only a couple since that time. Would be nice to see someone else start some house shows throughout BC and especially in the Vancouver or Victoria urban centres.
Been to a couple of bar shows in the past year and I never have fun when forced to breath cigarette smoke and deal with drunken assholes who want to kick my ass. Go figure. Boycott bar shows, they are surely not worth the effort.
The band Both Legs Broken from Chilliwack should be avoided at all costs. Terrible band that we played with in Powell River who insisted on drinking in the all-ages hall and being general morons.
Lise and I volunteered to work the door at a youth centre fund-raiser show with this metal band from Vancouver called Jar. Their drummer is originally from Powell River so they like to come back every now and then and steal money from their old community. Fuck these guys. Turns out we spent all of that time working the door just to have these selfish pricks take all the money and not leave the centre with a single penny. I'm not sure how much they got, but it was at least a few hundred dollars. Show promoters should stand up to this bullying bullshit and stick to the original payment agreement no matter what.
Ex-Dead Teenager made the Powell River/Courtenay jaunt in early December and brought along Charter Cruise (Dave from Daddy's Hands/M Blanket) to frighten the youngsters. Along with Return To Sender and The Suspenders, this was the best show to date at the Open Door Youth Centre in Powell River - a drop-in, volunteer run centre for free-thinkers that has since been infiltrated by Christians (see below somewhere).
Ex-Dead Teenager and Charter Cruise met with Render Useless and Hudson Mack in Courtenay for one of the best shows I've seen there thanks to Josh Cudmore who I believe has since moved on to Vancouver.
Brand New Unit and Another Joe were here and then to Courtenay in the beginning of January. BNU have grown into a tight piece of work. No wonder they were signed by BYO and Creative Man. Check them out if you get the chance.
The Space is the new, ahem, space to play shows in Vancouver and Indie Mike and I were witness to the first show there with Ex-Dead Teenager, the lovely Idahoan, Ersatz and three other bands. Nice comfortable spot to see shows, just the right size, and a lot more inviting than Crosstown Traffic (which The Space is right down the hall from).
Speaking of which, why are shows still happening at Crosstown Traffic when it has been rumoured that the owner has sexually assaulted women? Was this ever dealt with? Do we put yet another punk rock show over the safety of women? Info on the current Crosstown Traffic situation would be welcomed. Please let me know.
Had the pleasure of watching Vancouver's The Measure and Victoria's Render Useless practice on my late January jaunt through BC after my store Revolution Records closed down in Powell River. The Measure are rock all the way and extremely good. Render Useless only get better and better. Their new songs are immense! New CD any day now on Clue #2 Records out of Vancouver and another 7" record later this summer from my own SCHtufff... Revolution.
Stumbled upon the most amazing guy in Sechelt, BC earlier in the year. Jamie Elder owns and operates a skate shop there called Unity Skateboards and has been putting on shows for awhile. He has also been involved in a vegan cafe, Food Not Bombs in Victoria and a lot of other BC activism. He had Return To Sender come up a couple of times to play his skate shop which is in a trailer on the outskirts of the Sechelt Native Reserve, once with locals Kore Society and again with Manner Farm and Big Skull Science from Langley. I'm so impressed by the work Jamie is doing for his community/world. If you ever go through Sechelt, look him up. Hello also to Rebecca (who does an excellent 'zine on violence against women and sexism in our society called InSisterhood), Dave/Johnny Fukno (Pinch Hazard), Joe, Sarah, Jon, Hollie, Nick, Rory and all the other good folks that have made our stays in Sechelt so enjoyable. Also well worth mentioning is the Gumboot Cafe in Roberts Creek which has plenty of vegan selections on their menu.
Indie Mike and I organized a spoken word/poetry weekend near the end of February at the youth centre. It was pretty easy to do, almost the same as doing a punk show. Invite some speakers out, tell them to bring some pieces to read, bring along a microphone and PA (or amp, which we used), and put up posters. We had a blast the two nights we did it and even had a impromptu discussion group at the end of the second night with topics such as religion, rape, the youth centre, sexuality, homophobia, etc. It was nice to get together with other scenesters and not have to wear earplugs and yell over loud music. Highly recommended.
Another open stage in mid-March, this time at the youth centre, worked out well with a couple of bands getting together on the spot to play a some songs. This turned out to be Return To Sender's last show, if anyone cares. I'm sure we'll reunite in ten years and do a sold-out stadium tour. Either that or we'll be back together in a week and making people cry again.
OK, big discussion here. I'd like to know other people's feelings on Christianity in relation to the punk scene. In my opinion, there should be no relation. Here's a story for you: Mike and I were upset that this bonehead guy Greg decided to book a couple of Christian bands at the youth centre so we decided (after making sure the bands' lyrics weren't blatantly homophobic/racist/sexist like we do with all bands that come to town) to make an appearance at the show. We wanted to set up an information table on the ills of organized religion and how it should not be incorporated into the DIY all-ages scene we had established at the youth centre. After much effort from the Christian board members (and their fascist sympathizers) to squash our freedom of speech, expression and right to peaceful assembly, we were finally given "permission" to set-up the info table. The table was a roaring success. By that I mean people were actually more interested in our information against Christianity than they were in the tired alternative rock being churned out by the religious freaks on stage. I considered that a success. Lots of dialogue was exchanged via comment sheets that were quickly filled up by Christians, atheists, agnostics and others. Mike and I went home feeling as though we had accomplished something meaningful out of what would have been an otherwise dull show. A healthy exchange, right? Wrong, according to the youth centre cronies who are of a Christian majority, and thanks to the whining, snivelling and meddling of the sad little puppet, rip-off artist, chameleon, hipster booking shows to gain popularity, who all worked to get me banned from the youth centre. Yes, banned. Just for speaking my mind (mind you, some of our pamphlets proclaimed "Fuck Christianity!" which might have been a tad harsh for the Jesus-lovers at the show) and taking a stand against religion in the "punk" scene and at the centre. As Mike and I had dreaded, most of the openly bisexual or gay youth at the show received homophobic comments and anyone who wasn't a Jesus-lover received the "we love you, God will save you" bullshit made famous by the lackeys of a centuries old lie. So, does organized religion belong in the punk scene? Spirituality? Sure. Personal beliefs? You bet. Personal religion? OK, but keep on keeping it to yourself. Organized, discriminatory, bigoted, money-hungry, "you'll rot in hell for eternity if you don't follow our rules" religious bullshit? Fuck that. Keep it the fuck out of all scenes that aspire to be anything beyond what the mainstream (and religious) right tries to cram down our collective throats. I welcome correspondence on this issue, but brainwashed Christians who repeat "Jesus Loves You" over and over in a chant-like tone can write me when they have something original to say. Try me.
I also had some dialogue going with the drummer of a rock band from Courtenay called Babel-On about bands that make homophobic comments on stage. Seems their singer made a comment about one of their songs sounding "faggy" and a few people were offended (and rightly so). The drummer defended his singer to me via email by saying he was "one of the least homophobic person he knows" to which I responded that I've seen a fuck of a lot of bands over the years who didn't make derogatory comments on stage, so that would make this guy one of the most homophobic people I know, rather than the least. The drummer didn't seem to have much to say about that.
Lise and I moved into a new rental house here in Powell River and have done a couple of basement shows so far by invite only. After receiving death threats from religious nuts and making mortal enemies with pro-lifers, disgruntled parents, and the regular scene jocks, I've been more than a little careful inviting people over to my house for the evening. Maybe some day I'll make the shows open to the public. Basement shows are super fun and I encourage anyone with the space to do one. Even an empty garage or bedroom will work sometimes and you need not worry about big PAs or rock star attitudes while grooving out in the comfort of your own home.
Went back to Sechelt/Roberts Creek to help Jamie with his D.O.A., d.b.s., Self-Esteem Project show on April 24/98. Jamie does such good work (as mentioned before). He treated the bands and helpers like kings with a huge Indian feast with help from Kate (Pepperpot), Rebecca, Joe, Jon and others. Wow. The whole show was organized and promoted to the hilt. Wonderful!
d.b.s. and Self-Esteem Project then travelled on to Powell River for a comic shop show we did for them and played their hearts out to about 30 people. Respect to these guys who had just played a huge show the night before and seemed to care less about the noticeably smaller local scene here.
Well, that's all for now. See you in a few months with more contacts, some more shit-talk gossip, and a maybe even a little useful info here and there.
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