Beyoncé 101: The Best Thing I Never Had | Elective Magazine

beyonce Beyoncé 101: The Best Thing I Never Had | Elective Magazine

I wish they offered a class on Beyoncé when I was in university. True, I graduated before Destiny’s Child disbanded, but since the trio’s 1999 album The Writing’s on the Wall the writing was on the wall that Bey would be lionized in academia with 300-level Sociology courses in schools across North America. My term paper would be on “The Duality of Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé”, and I’d be sure to include a photo of Blue Ivy on the Works Cited page—as if any prof who penned a syllabus for this course could resist writing A+ next to that kid’s face.

I am not a pupa in the BeyHive, but at the same time I don’t have a death wish and wouldn’t take the course just to spew contrarian platitudes such as “Bey’s overrated. Why isn’t there a Jay Z class? This is reverse sexism.” (There’s always one in every single class.) However, I am a firm believer that you should take as many dumb electives as you can. The more dubious in educational merit they are the bet- ter, as they’ll help hone your bullshitting skills. These will prove valuable later in life if you ever want to win friends, influence people, or, you know, procure employment that doesn’t make you cry like a decidedly un-fierce also-ran in the shower every Monday morning.

I spent many sleepless nights slaving over essays on Shakespeare. Over a decade removed from school and still no one wants to yak about Hamlet with me—the real tragedy is most people into the performing arts are on life support and in a vegetative state. Dropping knowledge from that mandatory 100-level Stats course never charmed the interviewer for that plum gig I desperately wanted. And then there was a class on the weather. Yes, the weather. Somehow Clouds 101 was deemed essential for obtaining a degree. While my cumulonimbus identifying skills are unfuckwithable, every time I point one out to the person next to me on the bus they end up switching seats.

I should have been studying Mrs. Knowles instead. Bring her up to that same cloud-hating asshole and they’ll be hanging off your every word. Yoncé is all on our collective mouths like liquor.

Don’t fret the inevitable “Yes parents, I am taking a class on Beyoncé and this is a perfectly sane thing to do with the tuition money you’re giving me” conversation. They’ll see the light when you eloquently break down why Kanye is right and she deserves all the Grammys using a third-wave feminist critique. Besides, you can add, Religious Studies is a thing, and the Queen Bee is more popular, influential, and relevant than at least three of the top five major ones.

Nothing about the Cultural Hegemony of Bey, Gentrification and Craft Beer, the Intentional Communication of Ronaldo’s Abs, or Rihanna’s Instagram: Why We Can’t Even on the docket this semester? Doesn’t matter. The scholarly world moves at a glacial pace, and doesn’t recognize genius as quickly as you do. So put a ring on your education, and opine about “The Political Economies of Game of Thrones” (Poli Sci), “Grumpy Cat and the Theatre of the Absurd” (English), “Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, and Oedipus” (Psychology), or the “Cultural Appropriation of Twerking” (Sociology). Just be sure to hurl around a few Marxisms like “commodity fetishism” or “means of production” and you’ll do fine regardless of how flimsy your argument is.

“Who needs a degree when you’re schoolin’ life?” you ask. Well you can accomplish both when post-secondary educa- tion is in line with your interests. So fill up your tub halfway with dumb electives and ride them with your surfbort over the next four years. That, or you can spend the rest of your life lamenting missing out on that Beyoncé course as you keep a careful eye on the offerings in the Continuing Studies department.

this article was published in elective magazine in march 2015.

Vancouver’s subterranean dance-music scene is the new punk

Dance music fans in Vancouver haven’t had it this good since newly legal club kids were in preschool.

At a mainstream level, international acts are bringing bass drops to town every week and there are so many massives going on it’s doubtful your body could handle attending all of them. And at an underground level, intimate after-hours gatherings go down every weekend night and the local acts playing them are getting international attention on sites like Boiler Room, FACT, and Resident Advisor.

The scene hasn’t been this vibrant since the heyday of the Lotus Sound Lounge, and the idea of opening a store that dealt exclusively in phat pants was a viable business plan.

At the forefront of the mainstream side of things is Blueprint, a company that’s grown as fast as EDM has in recent years. “Blueprint, which used to be a two-to-three-person operation, is now a 400-person operation,” explains Blueprint’s digital marketing manager, Matt Owchar, interviewed at the Charles Bar in Gastown. He is pretty on the ball considering that the grand-opening bacchanalia for the company’s latest property, M.I.A. nightclub in Gastown, has just gone down the previous evening.

Under Blueprint’s expansive, fun, and fur-lined umbrella are five other nightclubs and an equally large number of dance-music festivals. One of these signature blowouts, the Seasons Festival, starts today (April 1). Inspired by Seattle’s Decibel Festival, this five-day citywide happening includes over 20 shows at all of Blueprint’s clubs as well as a two-day, all-ages main event at the Pacific Coliseum headlined by international tastemaker Diplo and the king of melodic big-room dance, Eric Prydz.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Seasons bill this year is that alongside EDM heavy hitters like Dillon Francis and Tritonal are local talent Bear Mountain and Sabota, as well as artists from underground dance-music labels 1080p, Genero, and Pacific Rhythm. If you were to describe some of these as EDM at one of their shows, the music would abruptly stop with a loud needle scratch, and the entire warehouse would stop dancing and stare at you.

“In our back yard we have all these amazing acts that are making waves internationally. And they’re awesome and they’re credible and they’re worth supporting and putting on a bigger platform,” Owchar declares. “It’s personally satisfying to take a label like 1080p and put it next to all these big-name DJs.”

This is what’ll be going down at the Free Association party on Thursday (April 2) at Fortune Sound Club. Organized by Natasha Lands and Chad Murray, this free event features three floors of electronic beats from some of Vancouver’s top underground labels. (Noticeably absent from the bill is Mood Hut, whose artists are touring Europe.)

With ample posters, photography, videos, and zines made by locals on display as well, it’s safe to assume that most attending this art-school-friendly show won’t be dancing in their underwear and a SpiritHood to Diplo this weekend.

“Going back seven, eight years, people that are now in the underground dance-music scene in the city, they were more in the punk-rock scene. They were dudes in punk-rock bands,” Owchar recollects. “It’s funny how the remnants of that scene have moved into this.”

It’s true. If EDM is the new rock ’n’ roll, then underground dance music is the new punk. An example of this is 1080p, whose sound might primarily be uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss, but whose ethos is pure punk. Launched by New Zealand transplant Richard MacFarlane nearly three years ago, the frenetic label has over 40 cassette releases from local and international acts.

The appeal of cassettes is that they’re fast and cheap to produce. All assembled by hand, they’re more of a limited-run, lo-fi, objet d’art reward for purchasing the MP3s than something most are bumping in yellow Sony Sports Walkmans.

“A lot of people criticize this trend where house and techno has become popular with people who had previously made guitar music. But I think it’s really amazing and I’m coming from that zone,” MacFarlane admits at Matchstick Coffee in Chinatown. “It’s good people are discovering this. In my opinion, it’s a lot more fun than going to see a show with three bands.”

DJing under the name 1080p Collection, MacFarlane will share the stage at Free Association with one of his New York acts, techno DJ-producer Max McFerren (“Everyone wants to come to Vancouver because they hear there’s this insane house and techno scene”), and local celestial house architect Friendly Chemist.

Soledad Muñoz of Genero echoes 1080p’s DIY sensibilities. Her all-female, multimedia project, with a label component, had its first cassette release this past summer, featuring the wyrd electronic pop of Stefana Fratila. Since then, two more have followed courtesy of deep-house and techno producers Regular Fantasy and D. Tiffany.

“I felt like there wasn’t enough female representation within the electronic realm,” she says of Genero’s inspiration, interviewed via Skype from a Portland coffee shop. “I come from a very critical-theory-based practice. But I also think that academia has this separation from reality. I’m very into pop culture. I’m very much into music. And I’m very much into getting together and making things happen.”

If critical theory doesn’t sound exactly, you know, fun, Muñoz rejects the idea that being an academic feminist and having a good time are conflicting notions.

“That’s how it has to be. C’mon, I’m not just inside a room reading books all day,” the Emily Carr grad jokes. “To me it’s about opening the doors and being ‘Yes, we are here and we’re doing it. Everyone come dance with us. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great, and also we’re very good musicians.’ ”

Performing at Genero’s Free Association showcase are house and techno DJ Jayda G (“She can carry a whole party if she wanted to with her energy”), rapper and R&B singer MamaRudeGyal, and tropical electronic soundscape weaver Ramzi.

Muñoz is quick to point out that the project wasn’t started as a “fuck you” to everyone else in the local dance-music landscape. “I appreciate what all of our friends have done for this scene in Vancouver,” she explains. “The community has made Genero. It’s not just me.”

In fact, none of these upstart labels are concerned about competing with each other. D. Tiffany, whom Muñoz can’t say enough kind things about, has also released tapes with 1080p. At Free Association she’ll be playing in the Pacific Rhythm showcase, and the label plans to release her work on a forthcoming vinyl compilation. Additionally, Pacific Rhythm has a brick-and-mortar store (441 Gore Avenue) where you can buy everyone’s cassettes.

“More and more people are getting into it. 1080p came along. Now there’s Pacific Rhythm. And us. It’s growing and, hopefully, it doesn’t stop at all,” Muñoz says optimistically.

There’s a pretty palpable sense of community bubbling up in Vancouver right now. A healthy underground and a healthy mainstream are byproducts of one another, and this year’s Seasons Festival is building a bridge between the two. When the stadiums and festival dance tents need new sounds to keep partiers moving, they look to the warehouses for inspiration. And when the novelty of the lasers, confetti cannons, LED walls, and DJs hucking cake at you wears off, there’s always room for one more on the city’s dingier dance floors.

this article was originally published by the georgia straight in march 2014

Sweatpants for the Georgia Straight

“You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweatpants?” Jerry asks a casually dressed George. “You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.’ ”

That one exchange from an episode of Seinfeld that aired over 20 years ago has helped define the discourse around sweatpants. Any conversation you have about them is likely to shift toward George Costanza, the de facto style icon of comfortable dressing. Consequently, there’s a good chance you’ll look like a schlub if you step outside in a pair of sweats, unless you’re on your way to the gym or you have a rap recording deal.

Then along came fashion sweatpants, to the chagrin of belt manufacturers everywhere. Despite that oft-shared quote from Karl Lagerfeld that “sweatpants are a sign of defeat,” they’ve been popping up in Vancouver’s most stylish boutiques, and it isn’t difficult to spend more money on some comfy sweatpants than on some uncomfy skinny jeans.

“They’re more like fashion pieces. They’re definitely a different approach to activewear,” explains Natsumi Akatsuka, buyer and store manager for Roden Gray (8 Water Street). “People that work out want to feel like they’re dressed up too. But they don’t want to actually go all the way to wearing suits or dramatically change their style all of a sudden. They can actually put on nicer pieces and still feel like themselves.”

The current wave of fashion sweats, which it’s safe to assume no one is wearing to Club 16, place an emphasis on craftsmanship with tapered fits, exotic fabrics, meticulous detailing, and, occasionally, zipper flies. (Think about that last one for a moment.)

“Sometimes with normal sweatpants, you still feel like you’re working out or sleeping or lounging in the house. With high-end, top-quality pieces, you can still feel confident enough to go outside,” Akatsuka says while showcasing the sweats on offer at one of the city’s premier menswear stores.

Hearing Akatsuka passionately describe the artistry and attention to detail on pairs of Thom Browne cashmere sweatpants ($1,595) or the kolor Side Stripe ($475) makes purchasing them seem like a sane proposition. A more affordable option, and a top seller at Roden Gray, is the John Elliott + Co Escobar ($230), inspired by the U.S. soccer team’s warm-up outfits in the 1980s.

Fret not if you’re a bit lighter in the wallet. You can be on trend and on budget, according to Vancouver stylist and sweatpants proselytizer Leila Bani.

“It’s taking something that’s so pedestrian and being all, ‘It’s fashion. Look it up.’ There are two schools of thought. You can go for the elevated, tailored vibe,” she explains. “Or you can just rock it and go for a straight prison look, which is also amazing.”

For the former, Bani recommends homegrown line Reigning Champ (starting at $110), available at gravitypope Tailored Goods (2203 West 4th Avenue). For the latter, she recommends sweats by Champion and Fila. These are tough to find, so your best bet is to keep your eyes on the racks at Winners (various locations).

The consensus is that black sweats are good for blending in, while white or grey ones tend to draw more attention to the fact that you’re, you know, a grown man wearing sweatpants in public. If you’re sporting a pizza-stained T-shirt and ratty Reeboks, it won’t matter how much money you dropped on your fashion sweats. The key to pulling them off at work or as everyday wear is to complement them with a nice shirt and sneakers. Showering occasionally will also do wonders. Alternatively, Bani, whose recent styling credits include the likes of GQ, suggests just being comfy and not giving a fuck.

“I think it comes back to the lifestyle here. You don’t see people dressed up. I love Vancouver because I can be a slob,” she declares. “I’ll be comfortable in my stretchy shit. Whatever. Embrace it.”

this article was originally published by the georgia straight in march 2014

Top 10 Albums of 2014 for the Georgia Straight

fyi, i am still pissed off at adrian mack for this.

A photo posted by Michael Mann (@michaelmann) on

That’s an excerpt from Adrian Mack’s Top 10 albums of 2014 for the Georgia Straight.

Here are mine

NYE at the Hotel Vancouver

NYE Hotel Vancouver NYE at the Hotel Vancouver

Here’s a website I recently got up for the Arrival Agency New Year’s Party at the Hotel Vancouver.

Yelawolf for the Georgia Straight

Read my interview with Yelawolf here

Big K.R.I.T. and Nas

Read my interview with Mississippi Rapper-Producer Big K.R.I.T.

Read my review of the Nas’ Illmatic Tour at the Vogue Theatre.

Fashion That Changed The World by Jennifer Croll

Fashion That Changed the World by Jennifer Croll Fashion That Changed The World by Jennifer Croll

Vancouver author Jennifer Croll recently released an outstanding style bible entitled Fashion That Changed The World. Published by Prestel, this thoughtful and exquisite book explores the history of fashion from a multitude of perspectives and is a must read for any lover of fashion. You can grab yourself a copy of her style bible from the Book Warehouse, Hager’s, Vancouver Special, Chapters, or online from Amazon here.

Halloween at the Hotel Vancouver

halloween website Halloween at the Hotel Vancouver

hallowneen at the hotel vancouver Halloween at the Hotel Vancouver

A site I got up recently for a Halloween party at the Hotel Vancouver.

Audrey on Vine

OSGEMEOS in Vancouver

here today for an up-close look.

A photo posted by Michael Mann (@michaelmann) on

OSGEMEOS for the Georgia Straight

osgemeos OSGEMEOS for the Georgia Straight

Osgemeos by Michael Mann for the Georgia Straight OSGEMEOS for the Georgia Straight

If Banksy and Shepard Fairey are the Stones and Beatles of street art, then consider OSGEMEOS the Beach Boys, if Brian Wilson were a Brazilian B-boy with an equally gifted identical-twin brother.

In the past year, OSGEMEOS (Portuguese for “THETWINS”) has collaborated with Banksy during his wildly popular residency in New York, staged a triumphant homecoming show in São Paulo that drew huge crowds, and painted the 737 that was used to transport the Brazilian national squad during the World Cup.

(It’s possible their iconic, smile-inducing, yellow-skinned faces, which adorned the plane, prevented 200 million Brazilians from ripping Seleção to shreds after its loss to Germany.)

Before this banner year, OSGEMEOS showed at the now-shuttered tastemaker gallery Deitch Projects in New York (2005), decorated the monolithic façade of the Tate Modern in London (2008), and took up a large chunk of real estate in the biggest retrospective of graffiti ever at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (2011).

Now that they’ve conquered the art world while somehow maintaining their immense street cred, the next logical career move is to execute their biggest public mural ever—in Vancouver, a city whose most revered piece of public art is the $97,000 poodle on a pole at Main and East 18th.

Preparation for this massive undertaking, which was organized by the Vancouver Biennale, began with a scouting mission back in December. While here, the 40-year-old brothers, Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, noticed a marked difference between Vancouver and their hometown of São Paulo, a topsy-turvy world where outdoor advertising is outlawed, heritage buildings are preserved, and tagging everything in sight is a popular daytime activity on Sundays.

“You don’t see many murals or graffiti in the city [of Vancouver]. They really control and really go against it. That’s sad. That’s really sad,” Otavio, the more talkative of the two, recalls in a home near urban-art epicentre Brentwood Mall, in Burnaby.

“We don’t think graffiti is vandalism. We think that the way the government governs the city, this can be vandalism. How they treat the people who pay tax every month, they steal and you don’t know what they do with the money. They don’t care. This can be vandalism,” he continues, and then adds: “If you don’t use the city, the city’s going to use you.”

His brother Gustavo is attentive and occasionally chimes in. However, he’s also focused on prepping a stencil that will be used on the mural, a 360-degree, 23-metre-high public art project that will spread over the six Ocean Concrete silos on Granville Island. When it’s unveiled on September 7 for the 2014–2016 Biennale, not only will the mural be a beacon for art enthusiasts around the world, it’s certain to become the most Instagrammed landmark in Vancouver. (Apologies, gum-covered head of Douglas Coupland. You had a good run.)

While the scope of the project is ambitious, the Pandolfo brothers have had ample time to prepare. Having drawn since they were four, the twins began brandishing spray cans at age nine, after spotting some guys tagging near their home. “When I saw the spray cans, I wanted to draw with them. So the next day our parents bought us spray cans, one for each of us, and we sprayed my parents’ whole house,” Otavio says with a grin. “In the ’80s, you had to find ways to play. We liked to destroy things and burn things.”

Unfortunate for their family home and, possibly, the one they’re staying at in Burnaby, but it’s a good thing they got comfortable with the tools of the trade at such an early age: they’re going to use 1,400 cans on the silos, a large number of which will be their signature yellow.

“Yellow is a very magic colour, a very strong colour. We believe it can make a lot of change in a good way,” an impassioned Gustavo pipes up. “We believe in our own world,” he elaborates, shamanically. “It is a place that we go after we pass away. All the drawings that we do, most of them come from this place.”

This dreamy otherworld Gustavo speaks of is an idea they developed symbiotically at an early age. In it, downtrodden, colourfully dressed vandals, gostosas, musicians, children, and other assorted neighbourhood characters are all presented with a playful dignity. It’s the sort of work Diego Rivera might have produced if he’d watched Wild Style on Repeat during an ayahuasca trip.

Today, their surreal visions are in such great demand that people come at OSGEMEOS’s noncommissioned street work with masonry saws and dreams of selling the slab of concrete at Sotheby’s. But the two are quick to point out they don’t believe their career is simply some Basquiat-esque rags-to-riches transition to becoming contemporary-art-world darlings.

“Our school is from the streets, but we see our work as more than painting a wall or painting inside a gallery. It’s more spiritual for us. We need to find space that we can create our universe, this universe that we believe. That’s why we started to work with galleries, because we get the empty space, white space, and could transform all this into the world we believe in sharing with the people,” Otavio says. “Spirituality for us is positive vibrations—bring positive things and give positive change. This is one of the important reasons to make art.”

With Emily Carr University of Art and Design poised to relocate in 2016, OSGEMEOS and the Vancouver Biennale are ensuring that art will always be an important part of Granville Island. While the two don’t have immediate plans to give our city walls any additional gifts, the Biennale is running a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to help offset the costs of the endeavour. (The budget is only about $28,000 more than the poodle’s.) One of the donation perks is a limited-edition lithograph of the finished mural, which is sure to sell out and be much easier to frame than a slab of concrete.

However, if, over the next few weeks, you see a pair of similar-looking fellas with a ladder around Main and 18th, and then hear the unmistakable rattle and hiss of spray cans, don’t call the cops. It likely means OSGEMEOS are giving that bloody mutt a much-needed make-over.

photo by alfonso arnold
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in August 2014


eek, got to hang out with @osgemeos today!

A photo posted by Michael Mann (@michaelmann) on

The Squamish Valley Music Festival with Lykke Li, Nas, Bruno Mars and Boys Noize

squamish fest The Squamish Valley Music Festival with Lykke Li, Nas, Bruno Mars and Boys Noize

bruno mars The Squamish Valley Music Festival with Lykke Li, Nas, Bruno Mars and Boys Noize

At this point in the summer, how is anyone who attends music festivals not flat broke or in the hospital? Surely no festivalgoers in our province have $300 left in their bank accounts for tickets—and enough serotonin left in their brains—to pull off another weekend of partying.


Legions of people who, apparently, have endless supplies of money, insatiable appetites for flower crowns, and Andre the Giant–esque tolerances for drugs and alcohol swarmed the opening day of the Squamish Valley Music Festival. (Noticeably absent were about 80 lightweights from last weekend’s Boonstock Music Festival in Penticton.)

But how long would they last? Walking along a serene, winding trail to the fest’s entrance, a shirtless fellow in a clown mask wiped out, already too inebriated to walk at 2 p.m. If this was how the day was to go, the medical staff hopefully had numerous stomach pumps and enough activated charcoal to power a locomotive onsite.

This year, the annual blowout features an expanded site to make room for more revellers and more brands looking to “activate” through the power of event marketing. To give you an idea of how big the new festival is, if you smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day (okay, a full pack) and your legs are still sore after playing soccer with a group of 12-year-olds five days ago, it takes about 20 minutes to walk from the Stawamus Stage on one side of the grounds to the main Tantalus Stage on the other. (Or 15 minutes if you don’t stop for a smoke.)

This means you have to make some tough decisions because you can’t possibly see all the acts. I’m sorry Foster the People, it’s not my fault you were far away and your set overlapped with the guy who released one of the greatest rap albums of all time, the guy who played this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, and the DJ whose luscious, flowing mane has its own Twitter parody account (@TommyTrashsHair).

“Are you ready to get groovy? I can smell something in the air,” asked Lykke Li, the first of the festival’s heavy hitters to take the Stawamus Stage, before performing “Sadness Is a Blessing”. Surprisingly, she turned out to be the day’s most vocal proponent of weed. Shortly into her outstanding set the effortlessly stylish Swede asked, “Can someone pass that joint on-stage, please?”

Someone obliged and handed her a massive one. She took a pull off it and placed it on a keyboard to save for later. Li Lykke Timotej Svensson Zachrisson! I’m not sure how things go down at music festivals in Sweden, but here in Squamish, that is called bogarting a joint and it is not a cool thing to do.

Nas, who was playing right after our pot queen, received the second most shout-outs from Li. She kept going on about how excited she was to see the half-man, half-amazing-MC and even dedicated her set to him before “Youth Knows No Pain”. However, unless Elon Musk installed a hyperloop for the talent to travel between stages, it is unlikely she caught the legendary rapper.

“If you’ve heard of my first album, Illmatic, from 20 years ago, put your hands in the air,” said Nasty Nas early in his set. If you didn’t oblige, that was okay, as he was about to perform it in its entirety. With upward of 14 women sitting on men’s shoulders, Nas reached the third track of the album, the chorus of which is likely a motto for many a festivalgoer: “Life’s a bitch and then you die/That’s why we get high/’Cuz you never know when you’re gonna go.”

The 40-year-old rapper burned through Illmatic in 30 minutes, ending with “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”. He then dug into his vast catalogue, and after “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” he earnestly told us, “You know I love you.” Shucks, we were a little unsure, Nas, so it was nice to hear you actually say it.

Sure, you could hang around and hear another 20 minutes of classic rap, but there was a DJ with a fantastic head of hair playing at the dance music stage. There wasn’t anyone there when he started, but Tommy Trash’s locks looked great. As it got darker, though, the lure of bass drops and samples of Lil Jon screaming “Turn down for what” proved irresistible and people gradually fist-pumped their way there, even though Bruno Mars was about to take the main stage.

If some schlub read Bruno Mars lyrics off a sheet of paper, they’d come across as cornball pickup lines. However, his undeniable charisma, talent, and likability means every lady he drops one of those lines on would drop her panties. Rocking a fedora and the best smile you’ve ever seen, he opened with “Moonshine”, “Natalie”, then “Treasure”. Thankfully, his outstanding backup band, the Hooligans, abided by the age-old rule of one fedora per crew.

While performing “Our First Time”, Mars segued into versions of “Pony” by Ginuwine and the “Ignition” remix by R. Kelly, and it proved to be the grind-the-person-next-to-you moment of the festival. He followed that up with “Marry You”, which was the lift-the-nearest-female-onto-your-shoulders moment of the day. After a piano interlude, the global pop superstar returned with a new fedora to end with “Grenade” and “Just the Way You Are”, the every-woman-in-Squamish-was-feeling-beautiful-while-singing-along moment.

Then it was seemingly all over and gradually people began to file out of the festival. Rookie mistake! Mars hadn’t played “Locked Out of Heaven” yet. And if you weren’t already sold on how talented this guy is, he elected to play a lengthy drum solo intro to his biggest hit.

Watching Mars sing, dance, and charm the shit out of everyone, it was not hard to see why people are proclaiming him the next Michael Jackson. Thankfully, there were no King of Pop (and Pepsi!) comparisons to be made when he was showered with sparks during the show’s final number, “Gorilla”, as his hair did not catch fire.

Fittingly, the best song Mars will ever appear on, “Bubble Butt” by Major Lazer, played over the speakers as we booked it to the Blueprint Arena to catch Boys Noize.

“Are you ready to get turnt up?” a shirtless bro near me asked his friend. Everyone was, and the dance stage was now officially the kind of raging fucking party you don’t ever want your parents to know you were at.

The festival’s EDM headliner, Boys Noize, was in his LED plinth-booth and dropping an aggressive set that included his track “Excuse Me”, his remix of Danny Brown’s “Smokin & Drinkin”, and House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. Guess which one of those songs received the most ecstatic response from all the shirtless musclemen?

At one point during his set a woman asked to borrow my lighter. I later spotted her and a group of friends, who had all joined arms and were doing a Rockettes–style leg-kick dance routine. What in God’s name were they smoking? And why didn’t they offer to share? Lykke Li, I blame you for this!

Walking back to your car along the winding trail, you could hear campers hooting and hollering. It was 2 a.m., but the partying would continue well into morning. Sure, they were having fun now, but this was only Day 1. Let’s see who doesn’t have an overdraft and is still standing come Sunday evening.

this article was originally published by the georgia straight in july 2014

Redbull Thre3Style Review in the Georgia Straight

i went to an energy drink dj battle for the @georgiastraight so you didn't have to.

A photo posted by Michael Mann (@michaelmann) on

Read my review of the Red Bull DJ Battle thing here.

Pemeberton Fest comnents

a broad spectrum of emotion! my pemberton fest review is in print as well in this week's Straight.

A photo posted by Michael Mann (@michaelmann) on

The Pemberton Music Festival Day featuring Baauer, Randy Newman, Justice, Outkast, and Frank Ocean

pemberton music festival The Pemberton Music Festival Day featuring Baauer, Randy Newman, Justice, Outkast, and Frank Ocean

frank ocean at pemberton e1413863950493 The Pemberton Music Festival Day featuring Baauer, Randy Newman, Justice, Outkast, and Frank Ocean

This past weekend, people travelled from far and wide to wear funny outfits and neon face paint at a massive gathering that put parties at Sodom and Gomorrah to shame.

Highlighted by an unprecedentedly awesome lineup, the Pemberton Music Festival is the most ambitious concert event to ever take place in this province.

But let’s talk about something more important: me. Impressively, I’ve somehow managed to avoid multi-day music fests my entire life. Well, it’s actually not that impressive. I simply think camping sucks, travelling more than 15 minutes to see a band is a colossal waste of time, and using a bathroom without a bidet is strictly for plebs.

Regardless, I summoned every ounce of courage I could muster and cruised the Sea-to-Sky on Sunday to Pemberton, a usually sleepy village, which has the tagline “Adventure begins here”.

How quaint!

Things couldn’t have started much worse for the festival. On Friday, an exceptionally dark cloud was cast over the proceedings. To people who weren’t there, the Pemberton Music Festival will likely always be known as the show where a kid from Regina died under suspicious circumstances. But inside the festival’s sprawling grounds, the party raged on and revellers seemed unfazed by Friday’s tragic incident. In fact, you were far more likely to hear people bitch about Kendrick Lamar’s set starting a little bit late that evening.

Fittingly for a Sunday, the Hallelujah Train, a gospel-choir project from Louisiana, was one of the first acts to take the stage. Joining them was the ridiculously accomplished Canadian music icon Daniel Lanois. Unfortunately, their songs of Jesus and redemption probably didn’t reach the people who need to have the fear of God put in them the most. Many hadn’t emerged from their tents yet, presumably because they were all sleeping off Girl Talk–induced hangovers from the previous evening.

Up next was a CanCon power hour where you had to choose between pop-rockers Sloan and hardcore punks Fucked Up. Indifferent to both, I chose the act with an F-bomb in its name and wasn’t disappointed. The band’s charismatic, hirsute, and shirtless frontman Damian Abraham hopped off-stage and ran around in the smallish crowd dispensing hugs while screaming the lyrics to “Queen of Hearts”. Later in his set he gave a shout-out to B.C. weed and one guy wearing a pylon on his head and another who was waving a Jägermeister flag both nodded their heads approvingly.

Over at the Bass Camp Tent it was time for a little uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss music to get going courtesy of Baauer. If you’re not familiar, he’s the guy who produced “Harlem Shake”, which spawned a sickeningly popular YouTube meme last year. (Chances are your most annoying coworker proposed that your office make one of these videos at some point.)

Almost immediately he turned a rather sleepy day into a raging party. Jaws gurned and pupils dilated while many a flower-crown-wearing girl was hoisted onto the shoulders of shirtless bros for the bombastic set. After watching measly crowds show up for internationally lauded acts like Fucked Up, while upstart DJs draw huge numbers, it’s pretty clear EDM reigns supreme at festivals of this ilk and live music is on the way out. And somewhere nearby, deadmau5 is cackling, while having sex with a woman far more attractive than you’ll ever bag, on a giant pile of money.

Frontrunner for the weirdest inclusion on the Pemberton lineup would be Randy Newman. If you’re over 45, you know Newman for his satirical piano-pop songs like “Short People”, “I Love L.A.”, and “Political Science”, which he played for an audience of about 100. If you’re under 45, he’s the guy who does all those Pixar movie songs like “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, which he performed as well. Fan or not, I think we can all agree it’s not what shirtless kids on E are throwing on at parties. Newman managed to put on a spirited show despite St. Vincent’s loud, squawking voice from a nearby stage pretty much drowning him out. My faith in humanity was temporarily restored while sprinting back to the Bass Camp Tent to catch the Justice DJ set. A festival bro pointed at me and we locked eyes. Were we going to fight? No, he mouthed the words “Randy Fucking Newman” to me. He knew what was up!

French duo Justice is at least somewhat responsible for EDM as we know it today. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to wear a slutty Fun Fur unicorn outfit while tripping balls, you were undoubtedly amused by the multiple sing-alongs to their remix of Simian’s “Never Be Alone” and giant strobe-light cross visuals. (Maybe the Hallelujah Train should invest in one of those?) Justice wound things down by playing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell as the tent cleared and everyone made their way to the Pemberton Stage.

Outkast was about to start and even all the furry freaks weren’t about to miss that.

Outkast is touring festivals on a wave of nostalgia and really not much else—André 3000 and Big Boi have no plans to record new material. Perhaps aware that their current run of gigs might be seen as a bit of a cash grab, 3K was wearing a price tag that read “sold” for the whole show. At the same time, when they opened with “B.O.B.”, it quickly showed that they’re the perfect headliner for a blowout like this: everyone knows the chorus to every one of their many hits.

When Outkast performed “ATLiens”, and commanded people to throw their hands in the air, the faithful did so like they just didn’t care and then said “oh-ye-yer”. For “Ms. Jackson” the crowd genuinely felt bad about making your daughter cry and apologized a trillion times. During “Hey Ya” people shook it like a Polaroid picture, even though you totally shouldn’t shake Polaroid photographs. And then, just to demonstrate their complete control over the audience, during the final song “The Whole World”, they ordered women to lift up their tops and many did. (It had been a long weekend at this point and everyone was in a highly suggestible state.)

Closing the festival down was R&B singer Frank Ocean. He came out on-stage alone and sporting a black hoodie with “Play Dirty” written on it. Cueing up tracks on a record player, he quickly showed he didn’t need anything else because he’s got that incredible fucking voice.

“You sound good. It’s like the Pemberton choir,” he commented after it was clear we all knew every single word to “Thinking About You”, “Novacane”, and “Super Rich Kids”. When he finished with “Pyramids” and “Wise Man”, it was no surprise that as you exited the festival couples were on the ground in various states of undress. On a day when you got to see Daniel Lanois, Randy Newman, Justice, and Outkast, Ocean left you thinking he might be the most talented of the lot. And unlike Outkast, he didn’t even need to ask people to remove their clothes.

Because of the incident on Friday, many will lump the Pemberton Music Festival alongside other infamous local gigs like Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon peeing on-stage in 1993, Oasis ending its concert after a few songs in 1996, the Guns N’ Roses no-show that sparked a riot in 2002, and, of course, the Pemberton Festival clusterfuck in 2008. However, the majority who attended this well-executed spectacle will be coming back for more. Myself included.

I might even stay an extra day next year if they can sort out a bidet for me.

this article was originally published by the georgia straight in july 2014

Empire of the Sun for the Georgia Straight

empire of the sun Empire of the Sun for the Georgia Straight

This summer, for the first time in, well, ever, we’ve got an Australian coming to the Whistlah area who won’t annoy the fuck out of you. When Luke Steele, frontman of Empire of the Sun, takes the stage at the Pemberton Music Festival there will be no talk of the pow conditions on Blackcomb or how off his face he got at Garf’s last night. Instead, be prepared for an over-the-top live show that combines the band’s electronic glam-pop with costumes that make the cast of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert look norm-core and production values that would make Baz Luhrmann proud.

“It’s like taking people on this return to some unknown vortex of the senses,” says the 34-year-old solar deity of his multiplatinum outfit’s live show, interviewed by phone. “You want to take the music beyond the world and not live in this world and into the realms and the heavens. Once you open that door, there’s this flood of never-ending stories, and signs and wonders, and journeys beyond nether lands, and blessings and curses.”

If thought loops like that give any indication about the show, we’d all better pray there isn’t any brown acid floating around Pemberton this weekend. Granted, Empire of the Sun’s life-affirming, dance-floor-friendly sound, which has made it a favourite on the festival circuit, will probably cure a bad trip better than some trust-fund hippie shaman trying to talk you down in the chill-out tent.

“I like playing festivals that have a mix of music: bands, singer-songwriters, and DJs. We’ve done some around the world that are strictly techno,” the road warrior confesses. “It’s hard.

“[EDM] has come to America like a giant storm,” he continues. “It’s funny sometimes ’cause the crowd is so different. There are a lot of guys with their shirts off and sporting that oiled-up tan and a six-pack. It’s made it about kind of a fashion parade.”

Steele knows a thing or two about fashion. While it’s not mathematically possible, he claims to be “120 percent involved” in Empire of the Sun’s lavish accoutrements and is quick to dispense advice for those working on an outfit to wear to the show: “I always say fashion designers should hang out at the zoo.”

Whether he’s performing for his devoted Empyreans, oily dance-music meatheads, or people who fall in between, it’s clear Steele won’t be pigeonholed easily. Look no further than Empire of the Sun recently recording with Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham; letting dance-music heavy hitters David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Zedd give tracks off 2013 sophomore album Ice on the Dune the fist-pump-remix treatment; and scoring the upcoming Farrelly brothers flick Dumb and Dumber To.

“It’s getting pretty wild now,” he says. “We can’t stop. It’s an addiction. Once you have a little taste on your lips of what imagination has to offer, you’re gone.”

He’s right. There’s only one thing on the planet that tastes better than imagination: Vegemite on toast.

this article was originally published by the georgia straight in july 2014

White Lung’s “In Your Home” directed by Justin Gradin and Ben Jacques

The video my friend Justin Gradin directed with his friend Ben Jacques for White Lung is outstanding.

Frida the Dog!

selfie avec frida, my mom's really thrilled pet rat.

A photo posted by Michael Mann (@michaelmann) on