I recently launched a website for Vancouver’s newest and best live music venue. Check it out…
I recently launched a website for Vancouver’s newest and best live music venue. Check it out…
You’re not getting laid if you go to a live-music gig in Vancouver on a Wednesday. Christ, scan whatever grimy venue you’re at and the people will barely look like they’re having fun. It’s not like that everywhere in the city, though. Brave a trip to L.E.D. Bar in the Granville Entertainment District and you’ll be greeted by a weekly happening that unites scenesters and bridge-and-tunnelers alike for three reasons: getting messed up, listening to rap music, and fucking each other’s brains out. Welcome to REUPTRIPPYSHIT.
For nearly two years, DJs Genie (aka Erik Devro) and Rico Uno (aka Rico Cunanan) have been lovingly playing awesomely ignorant party music at the intimate club—bucking the stigma that Granville Street is a godforsaken shithole populated exclusively by the worst people in the city.
“People are tired of going to dirt bars. Granville Street is going to be the new dirt bar,” proclaims Devro as he talks with the Straight while enjoying a beer flight at the Brassneck Brewery. “People hide behind their costumes. No, we’re all chongos who want to wild out. People really do let go. Mornings after RUTS people either thank us or apologize.”
Since elementary school, the duo has wanted to make you reek of cheap tequila every Thursday morning. Self-professed record nerds, both were raised on CiTR hip-hop programs like Krispy Biscuit and The Show. Years later, the two met and became friends while working at Beat Street Records, and now they hold down weekend residencies at cool-kid nights at Fortune Sound Club and the Biltmore Cabaret. RUTS, where party monsters don their most ratchet outfits to hear testosterone-heavy club rap, started as something of a novelty night, but has since grown far past that.
“It seemed when we were starting it was a fad, but I loved the music and I wanted to present it in a nonironic kinda way and actually get people to have a genuine time with music,” Cunanan explains. “It quickly became a destination and people know to take Thursday off. By looking at a girl now, you can tell if she needs the Thursday off.”
Planning ahead is a wise idea, as calling in sick won’t help you when photos of you screaming “Versace, Versace” with a member of the B.C. Lions surface on Facebook. The party pics, which are some of the best in the city, frequently capture crazy clubgoers committing indecent acts that inspire either fomo or a sense of dread that there is no hope for the future of humanity.
“The photos capture this insane mix of people who are actually having fun,” says Devro. “People from out of town tell me the only thing they see about Vancouver on Facebook is RUTS.”
Photos of you committing the online equivalent of a walk of shame aren’t the only thing about REUPTRIPPYSHIT that has an international rep. Earlier this year, the duo did a mix for Diplo that made it onto the global tastemaker’s popular BBC Radio show Diplo and Friends. “I was looking at the guests the month before us and Tiësto did a two-part show and I was like, ‘We’re doing this?’ ” Cunanan recalls.
While Tiësto won’t be popping by RUTS anytime soon, a fair share of notables have turned up to get turnt up. There’s Ryan Kesler, who was spotted doing the Cat Daddy; M. Night Shyamalan, who was (hopefully) drinking his sorrows away because he can’t find work; and Pamela Anderson, who flashed her tits to someone.
“She is perfect and she is what REUPTRIPPYSHIT is. She’s glamorous, but here she is truly what ratchet is. When you see someone who’s beautiful but they’re doing something raunchy, that contrast is ratchet,” explains Devro, local Ebonics expert.
The night frequently boasts interesting scheduled guests as well. The ATL Twins—grill-sporting clones with a much-publicized penchant for rap music and tag-teaming women—hosted a night shortly after they appeared in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. And on Wednesday (April 16), as part of Seasons Festival 2014, RUTS will feature a special mystery guest. (Earlier in the evening, Rico Uno and Genie are opening for Trinidad James, so figure it out.)
A weekday club night with good music that’s open late, where an eclectic crowd can be seen having a good time, sounds suspiciously like something that only happens in other cities. So go on, book next Thursday off work and embrace your inner chongo—the worst-case scenario is you’re issuing a few morning-after apology texts and copping a one-time dose of antibiotics. However, if getting blackout drunk and committing unspeakable acts on a school night isn’t your thing, at least you’ll be able to look at those photos on Facebook of other people having fun.
Trinidad James definitely wasn’t high on ecstasy while talking with the Straight from his home in Atlanta, Georgia. The 26-year-old rapper who uttered the oh-so-repeatable line “Popped a molly, I’m sweating, woo” in his smash hit “All Gold Everything” answers questions in a pleasant, concise manner. It’s a far cry from someone ripped to the tits on amphetamines, who’d likely blather on for hours about everything from how they lost their virginity to the PIN on their bank card. It would be nice to know James’s PIN, though. On the strength of “All Gold Everything” and its accompanying viral video—where he peacocks through the streets of the ATL sporting Versace slippers, hella gold jewellery, and an adorable pit-bull puppy—he was swiftly signed to a seven-figure deal with Def Jam.
“Just in general things move fast, but it’s a process. I can’t even exactly remember when each thing happened because I wasn’t focused on just success,” the man born Nicolas Williams recalls. “I’m still, and was figuring it out even more then, working on skills as an artist.”
He appears to have it all pretty dialled in, considering he’d only been rapping for nine months when “All Gold Everything” dropped. Since then, he’s launched his own imprint, Gold Gang Records, and guested on tracks by the likes of ASAP Ferg, August Alsina, and Gucci Mane, and he’s currently completing “10 songs of greatness” for his major-label debut.
“I don’t beg for anything, and I definitely didn’t beg for fame. Definitely. I just know that my music is something I felt people needed to hear,” he asserts. “I didn’t put a gun to anybody’s head and make them listen to music and buy it.”
James won’t put a gun to your head, but he might do something far more sinister: critique your shoes. Before becoming a famous rapper he managed a streetwear boutique, and late last year he launched a video blog where he passionately shares stylish footwear from his collection. It’s a stark contrast to his music videos, where he’s hurling racial epithets while surrounded by thugs and strippers.
“I was just thinking of different ways to allow my fans to be able to relate to me and understand me some more. And, just in general, I never really knew of an artist who actually knew about shoes the way I did and could talk about it,” he says.
The gem of his collection is the wet dream of anyone who grew up in the ’80s: the 2011 Nike Mag. “They’re a retro remake of the tennis shoe Michael J. Fox wore in Back to the Future with the hoverboard,” the sneakerhead giddily explains.
These fabled, limited-edition shoes were auctioned off to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research, and some hit prices upwards of 10 grand—not exactly the kind of thing someone slogging it out in retail can afford. Rappers signed to major labels, however, can.
“It’s crazy—one day you’re looking at a shoe [and thinking] ‘maybe one day I can afford it,’ ” the rap game’s Imelda Marcos recalls. “Then I got the shoes and I’d worked hard to get them and it was really dope.”
James has been tipped off about the best sneaker stores in Vancouver and will be here shortly. So if you’re a size 11 and needing a new pair, you’d best act quickly. Might as well rock those kicks at the show, too. That’ll get him sweating more than a big bag of molly ever would.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in april 2014
Here I am on CKNW 980’s Afternoon Show with Simi Sara discussing Miley Cyrus’s butt and offering absolutely terrible parenting advice.
Thank you for having me Claire and Simi!
Long gone are the days where you had to be bribed with a Girls Gone Wild hat to flash some skin for a creep with a camera. In 2014, young women hound party photographers and proudly share the results on Instagram and Twitter. No pop star exemplifies this mindset more than Miley Cyrus, whose sexual awakening last year infuriated your Us Weekly–subscribing mother and clogged your social media feed.
Barely legal females ditched their boyfriends on Valentine’s Day to fill Rogers Arena for the first stop of the former Hannah Montana’s hotly anticipated Bangerz Tour. While many came dressed in looks inspired by Miley, it was hardly a “trying to get a line in the bathroom” crowd—queues for Mike’s Hard Lemonade were dwarfed by ones at merch stands that sold inflatable bananas and detritus featuring photos by your favourite pervball, Terry Richardson.
Smilers came ready to soak up pop hits while poppin’ their asses. There was one question to be answered though: would their headline-hogging hero fall flat on her butt mid-twerk? To the delight of everyone in attendance, Cyrus proved she can’t, and won’t, be stopped.
The music started and everyone was on their feet, but where was Miley? Gradually the massive LED backdrop was filled with the face of the 21-year-old pop princess. Then a hatch opened up and a massive tongue snaked out of a set-piece mouth towards the stage. Cyrus deftly slid down it and commanded, “Let me hear y’all make some fucking noise”. A cacophony of shrill shrieks, squeals, and OMGs ensued after a spectacular entrance as she opened with “SMS (Bangerz)”.
Joining her onstage for the club-friendly, well, banger, were back-up dancers, a Munchkinlad-escapee in a red PVC outfit, a BBW with a butt that belittled the one Sir Mix-A-Lot rapped on, and four sickos in fursuits. (Apologies to the Vancouver furry community. Society has come a long way in recent years, but we’re still not ready to accept yiffing.)
For the next number, a gold-plated car with spinners rose from a trapdoor. Miley hopped on and humped its hood while singing “4×4″ as it drove around on stage and sprayed dolla bills out of the wheel wells. This is how the rest of the evening would go: Lady Gaga’s artful weirdness coupled with vintage-Madonna in-your-face-sexuality.
During the highly entertaining hour-and-forty-minute-long spectacle we primarily heard tracks off of Bangerz with a smattering of hits from earlier albums as well as covers of “Hey Ya!” by OutKast and “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. While this was happening we were treated to visuals courtesy of Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, a dozen or so bejewelled outfits designed by the likes of Roberto Cavalli and Marc Jacobs, and an inflatable wolf that was at least 10-Mileys high.
To answer the burning question that kept you awake at night leading up to this show: you better fucking believe there was twerking. In fact, the most powerful tool onstage was the singer’s ass. Anytime she aimed that thing at the crowd the roar was deafening. It is a lethal weapon that could topple governments, and not just in the Middle East. Live in fear.
While flying around on a hot dog phallus and singing “Someone Else”, the massive LED screen opened up and Cyrus exited the stage. Of course, the show was not over. The biggest bangerz had yet to be performed.
Billy Ray’s daughter returned with the club anthem “We Can’t Stop”, during which the Munchkin was dressed up as a joint and we all sang along. The crowd participation continued when she played her biggest hit, the emotional power ballad “Wrecking Ball”. For a minute it felt like it might end there, but no. There had not been enough nodding of heads and moving of hips like yeah. Flanked by the BBW in a Statue of Liberty costume and the little person in a hilarious Liberty Bell getup, Miley belted out the disgustingly catchy “Party in the U.S.A.” while sporting a sparkly Stars & Stripes outfit and hillbilly teeth. This twisted tribute to ‘Murica ended the show.
Valentine’s Day only happens once a year, but taking a provocative selfie at the Bangerz Tour was a once in a lifetime experience. Miley did not disappoint and delivered the most Instagram-worthy concert of the year.
As for the parents in attendance, they left praying their kids don’t come home one day in fursuits.
While a lot of us can’t wait to point and laugh when the EDM bubble bursts, it’s not going happen anytime soon. Testament to that, dance-music disciples packed the Pacific Coliseum for the all-ages Get Together 2014 party to hear Beatport bangers and bass drops while fist-pumping, glow stick–waving, and not-staring at all at the underage girls in their underwear. (I’ve been following this whole Woody Allen debacle and am incredibly on edge.)
With a healthy dose of lasers, lights, and LED screens in full effect, a member of DVBBS screamed, “If you’re out here getting fucked up tonight, say ‘Fuck yeah!’” The response suggested that most were celebrating the long weekend by getting so mangled they definitely wouldn’t want to see their parents on Family Day. The young and wickedly entertaining brothers from Orangeville, Ontario proceeded to play a testosterone-fuelled set laden with their own productions. While clearly graduates from the Steve Aoki school of DJing, they stopped short of throwing cake at us, sadly.
Up next was Andrew Rayel, an upstart from Moldova, which you probably couldn’t find on a map. While dropping big shiny tunes by Calvin Harris, Hardwell, and Zedd, the lord of the dance was significantly more subdued than everyone else who took to the LED-plinth-cum-DJ-booth. It was adorable to watch a crew of muscular MMA-types dance in a circle together to Rayel’s more melodic offerings. Unfortunately, subtlety won’t win many over when a noticeable chunk of the audience consists of grown men in glowing fun-fur animal hats and jailbait in booty shorts with “It won’t spank itself” written on the verso. (It was just a fleeting glimpse, I swear.)
Tritonal opened with Showtek’s “We Like To Party”, one of the biggest songs around right now. As it played, multiple groups of people, called Tritonians, busted out flags and signs with the name and logo of their heroes from Austin, Texas. The duo followed that up with a bounty of their emotional, vocal trance offerings including “Colors”, “Electric Glow”, and “Now Or Never”, which got all remaining pupils and jaws in the building dilated and gurning. It should also be noted that when they played “Crackin’” by the Bassjackers, a trio of women simultaneously did the splits beside me, then casually walked away like that was nothing out of the ordinary for them.
“Welcome to the world of Dirty Dutch,” said an ominous voice over the speakers. This could only mean one thing: it was time for Chuckie, a Dutch purveyor of dirty funkin’ beats—conveniently the title of the headliner’s opening track. Indeed, we got a lot of those, as well as a smattering of classics by ATB, House of Pain, and Reel 2 Real, with a healthy chunk of contemporary cheese by Avicii, Armin van Buuren, and Swedish House Mafia.
For the final song of the evening, Chuckie commanded everyone to sit on the ground. We were all in a highly suggestible state at this point, so we obliged even though the ground was totally gross.
“When the bass drops, you’re all gonna lose your shit,” the DJ cautioned. The man knew what he was talking about. After everyone jumped up and the final fist-pump session took place, the houselights went on and the incredibly fun six-hour-long four-on-the-floorgy was over.
For most, this meant hopping into one of the countless limousines or party buses that were parked out front. The night was just getting started. For a few, however, it meant sneaking into a minivan, driven by mom. It was really chilly out and she was worried you’d catch a cold in that outfit.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in february 2014
Next week you might be able to place a bet on whether or not you’ll see a musician’s penis. If you go out to live shows with any regularity you’ve probably seen a few of them. Hell, you may even make bets about them among your friends. I sure do and almost always win. The trick is to offer to buy the musician a drink and then just ask politely to gaze at it. More often than not, they’ll happily expose themselves to you.
This is different, though, as we’re talking about possibly seeing a dick during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show, the biggest musical event of the year. There are already a lot of narratives swirling around about the big game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. It’ll be the Broncos’ high-flying offence versus the Hawks’ devastating defence and a bunch of other boring bullshit you don’t care about. However, a genuinely intriguing story line did emerge on January 9 when Flea tweeted “Anybody wanna see my cock at the Super Bowl?”
The 51-year-old bassist will unfortunately be performing with the rest of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who will unfortunately be accompanying that guy who sang the hook on Major Lazer’s “Bubble Butt”. I’d rather watch a preseason WNBA game than a RHCP performance, but if Flea’s gonna drop trou I will tune in, as the fallout will seem like some insane Manson Family vision of the apocalypse compared to Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate and M.I.A.’s Middle Fingergate. Not only that, the man born with the name Michael Balzary would skyrocket past Ewan McGregor to have the most famous pecker on the planet. (While I don’t have any hard evidence to back up my claim that Rent Boy has the most viewed penis of all time, after my own it is the one I’ve seen the most.)
Flea deleted the tweet, but it made the rounds because he has nearly a million followers. If you’re a degenerate gambler like me, this is intriguing because it means oddsmakers certainly saw it. It’s also terrifying because it means there are at least a million people out there listening to funk rock.
The Super Bowl is the gambling event of the year, and you can make all sorts of crazy proposition bets, like what colour the Gatorade will be that’s dumped on the winning coach. And, yes, you can even throw money down on the musical performances. Last year, you could wager if Alicia Keys would flub the national anthem, if Beyoncé’s hair would be curly, or if Jay Z would make a cameo appearance on-stage. A prop bet about Flea whipping his dink out seems destined to be in play for Super Bowl XLVIII.
I’m hesitant to offer gambling advice, but it’s free money if you bet on seeing Flea’s circumcised and very aesthetically pleasing member on Super Bowl Sunday. True, the game is outdoors at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in February, so the weather will be a factor—Nihilist #2 from The Big Lebowski may elect to put a sock on it, as he’s done in the past. Nonetheless, I’m extremely confident the veteran Californicationer will make this the greatest halftime show ever, and we’ll all be winners. C’mon Flea, daddy needs a new pair of shoes. (Not really, I have a clothing sponsor who gives me free shoes.)
Sports will always be superior to music because of gambling. I’d hit a lot more shows and generally wouldn’t be bored as shit at the ones I do go to if I could lay a little action on the evening. How many of the band’s friends who clicked “attending” on Facebook will actually show up? An over/under on stomachs pumped at the next EDM bash? Will the guitar player’s psychotic ex show up all coked-up and start a bunch of drama? Aside from being loads of fun, the house always wins, so this is a total cash cow. I just made the music industry profitable again. You’re welcome!
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in january 2014
As nice as it is to have a painful rumination on mortality by a blue-chip artist hanging on your wall, sometimes a drawing of Grumpy Cat as the Mona Lisa by an unknown local can bring just as much enjoyment. If you’re after the former, catch a flight to Art Basel in Miami and pray that you’re important enough for one of David Zwirner’s cronies to sell you something. If you’re after the latter, hop a bus to Hot Art Wet City at 2206 Main Street in Mount Pleasant, and Chris Bentzen will sort you out. No Black Card or name-dropping required.
Hot Art Wet City is the culmination of Bentzen curating and producing a decade’s worth of lowbrow art events around Vancouver. “Fun and accessible, that’s pretty much what it comes down to,” says the 39-year-old gallerist during the final days of Toys, a group show devoted to Kid Robot–esque collectibles. “I keep trying to remind myself that I’m trying to build a community here.”
A year after an art show of his own work in 2003, which included buttons as a medium, Bentzen partnered with Jim Hoehnle to launch Hot One Inch Action. The concept was simple: get a lot of artists to submit their work, print it on one-inch buttons, and sell random grab bags of them for a couple of bucks. Then get everyone drinking, socializing, and trading them. It was a hit.
“It just kept going. People were excited about it so we just kept doing it and kept doing it,” recalls Bentzen, whose earlobes are stretched nearly as big as one of those buttons. “People wanted it to happen more often.”
After coming across a listing on Craigslist that was too tempting to pass on, he snapped up the space and Hot Art Wet City opened its doors last April. Since its inception, it has hosted a slew of amusingly lowbrow shows, including May LaForge Be With You, a paean to Star Trek and Star Wars; Teenage Wasteland, a showcase of cringe-inducing work that artists made when they were teenagers; and Boobies & Wieners, an exploration of body image and identity in the postdigital age. (Just kidding: it was mostly funny pictures of tits and dicks.)
Looking ahead at the slate of shows in early 2014, there’s Typo, a group show of type-based work, and Ugh!, a historically inaccurate exhibition of caveman- and dinosaur-inspired art.
“A friend of mine was in Clan of the Cave Bear when he was a kid, with Daryl Hannah. He was the kid and the product of her rape in that movie,” Bentzen says of the group show’s curious inspiration. “He’s a very hairy and large man. He’s going to be the special guest for that. Hopefully, he’ll be wearing a loincloth and enjoying his celebrity.”
Walk by one of these shows on the opening night and you might mistake the gallery for a packed bar—group shows that sometimes have upward of 80 artists participating tend to be like that. However, it’s not just friends and family of the artists attending. Even erudite regulars from galleries along Granville or Great Northern Way are showing up at Hot Art Wet City’s raucous openings.
“It’s something different than what they’re used to seeing. They like that energy of the opening nights because it’s a bit more exciting than Granville Street stuff,” Bentzen hypothesizes, then adds: “For some of them, it’s a little much; we’re serving wine out of boxes and in plastic cups.”
The work on display pairs well pricewise with the wine. You can likely cop an original piece for $200 to $500, and Bentzen doesn’t plan to change this anytime soon.
“I’d like to keep it local and cheap, so there’s that opportunity for artists, new artists especially, to get their work out there, but also for audiences who aren’t really used to buying expensive art,” he says from behind the gallery’s front desk, with Andrea Hooge’s portraits of Walter and Donny from The Big Lebowski hanging overhead and really tying the room together. “It’s a cool little opportunity to be that steppingstone so they can go into a higher-end gallery and go, ‘Okay, I get it,’ and feel comfortable spending more.”
Regardless of whether you’re trying to unload a $280 drawing of Grumpy Cat as the Mona Lisa by Clare Zhao or a $28,000 C-print of Abbott and Cordova by Stan Douglas, selling art is no easy task.
“I wouldn’t recommend it. That’s also why I host other events here—comedy shows, workshops, and stuff like that. If I was trying to make a living off of selling art, it would not work.”
While Grumpy Cat still awaits a buyer, there have been some successes at Hot Art Wet City so far. A homoerotic portrait by Laura McIntosh of Prof. Albus Dumbledore embracing a chiselled Harry Potter, who is sporting a massive erect, er, wand, is hanging on someone’s wall and creeping out all who visit its lucky owner’s home. Let’s hope Bentzen succeeds in building a community of perverts and weirdos who are into hanging hot art like that on their walls.
Hordes of women packed a sold-out Rogers Arena for an evening of selfies, squeals, empowerment, and feeling awesome about how their bodies look when squeezed into the latest offerings from Sirens. Who cares that the Mrs. Carter Show wasn’t in support of a new album? The incredibly thirsty, fecund crowd would not be denied their moment on this rainy November evening.
The lights dimmed, the curtain dropped, and the first of many video interludes played. Cue pyrotechnics, an 11-piece band, nine back-up dancers in couture birdcage skirts, and two French breakdancing twins, the lone possessors of Y-chromosomes to grace the stage. And then she arose from a trap door in the stage. The Queen Bey herself was among us mere mortals in Vancouver for the first time since 2009 and she looked incredible. Cue goose bumps, glass-shattering shrieks, and unadulterated glee.
After correctly identifying what city she was in, to the delight of everyone, the 32-year-old pop deity launched into “Who Run The World (Girls)”. As the chants of “Who run this mutha? / Girls” spread, the gender pay gap was completely forgotten by those singing along. And if you’re like me, a textbook example of white male privilege, it immediately became clear that you’d best keep your fucking snide comments to yourself for the next hour and 35 minutes.
While the strategically placed electric fans that kept Sasha Fierce’s shiny, full-bodied mane aflutter throughout the show were a nice touch, the stage set-up was standard fare. There also weren’t many moments where she veered off the show’s script and interacted with the faithful—save touching the hands of a few lucky BeyHive members up-front, which, presumably, has the same effect as drinking out of the Holy Grail.
Beyoncé more than made up for this with a healthy dose of hits from her four solo albums coupled with her exceptional stage presence, elaborate choreography, and nonstop costume changes. (The lime green, leopard-printed fringe minidress was especially stunning.)
At one point in the show, while sporting a blue sequined bodysuit, she flew over the crowd to an auxiliary stage shaped like the letter B. Once there she performed “Irreplaceable”, “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child, the sing-alongiest sing-along of the evening, and “Love On Top” before flying back to the mainland. (She didn’t actually fly. But the consensus was if Beyoncé put her analytical Virgo mind to it, she could soar like a fierce bald eagle without the assistance of wires.)
After another costume change, she returned to the stage. We were simultaneously ready for this jelly while being unable to handle it. It, in this case, were the megahits “Crazy in Love” and a version “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” that featured a snippet of the theme from The Jeffersons, something less than one percent of the audience was old and sober enough to recognize.
It could have ended there and everyone would have still walked out with an odd perma-grin that’s usually reserved for people indoctrinated into UFO cults. But no, not enough tears had flowed yet. After a video that included shots of her singing for Barack Obama (‘Yay’) and holding Blue Ivy (‘Aww’), Beyoncé belted out a brief cover of “I Will Always Love You” before seguing into the equally emotional “Halo” to end the unforgettable evening.
Excluding the woman who got ejected for barfing her guts out in a garbage can in the men’s washroom in section 109, it’s impossible anyone left this show disappointed. It was wicked entertainment with an empowering message: women everywhere can move on up in a man’s world. You just need to be a leggy Mel Ramos-esque beauty who’s also a once-in-a-generation talent that’s worth a billion dollars and married to Jay Z. It’s that simple.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in december 2013
Recently launched a website for a New Year’s Party at the Hotel Vancouver.
Pink’s stage and catwalk were undeniably shaped like a flaccid penis and ball sack, but she certainly didn’t deliver a limp-dink performance. As far as female pop superstars go, Alecia Beth Moore isn’t the most provocative (Lady Gaga), catchy (Katy Perry), sweet (Taylor Swift), stupid (Rihanna), or geriatric (Madonna). But she has the most death-defying live show of the bunch.
The sold-out Rogers Arena was a proverbial henhouse. The hormonal scale tipped so overwhelmingly in estrogen’s favour that some of the men’s bathrooms were converted to women’s to accommodate the imbalance. It’s a good thing the concert’s organizers had the foresight to do this, as the long-in-the-tooth crowd was hopped up on Mike’s Hard Lemonade and had their urinary incontinence pushed to the brink by utter jubilation.
The Truth About Love Tour had a definite Cirque du Soleil feel, complete with a ringmaster named Rubix Von Füchenhürtz, who got everyone chortling by clowning around before the curtain rose. After a CoverGirl ad starring Pink, which received a rousing response, Rubix yammered on a bit more and the 34-year-old hitmaker took the stage in Vancouver for the first time since 2002 in spectacular fashion: she slingshotted 30 feet upwards from a trapdoor on the stage. Attached by bungee cords to an oscillating metal frame with three shirtless male acrobats on it, she sang “Raise Your Glass” while bouncing up and down, inverted for much of it. No longer airborne, she then performed “Walk of Shame”, “Just Like a Pill”, “U + Ur Hand”, and “Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely)” and proved equally adept at keeping the faithful’s attention without risking her life (though it was a lot more ridiculous and awesome when she was). While whimsically dancing along the shaft of the catwalk towards its bulbous head, Pink greeted people, signed autographs, accepted fan art, and generally didn’t seem like an inhuman corporate entity despite being worth an estimated $70 million and having the flattest stomach in the building.
The evening’s Lilith Fair moment came after Pink regaled those in attendance with a tale about her two-year-old daughter, who describes the next song as “full of mom words”. Whether or not Pink used the mom word was tough to tell as the crowd was singing the chorus of “Fuckin’ Perfect” far too loudly to hear her. During those three-and-a-half minutes, our cycles synchronized and we were all goddesses.
The only real buzz-kill of the show was a paint-by-numbers cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. The real estate of this hour-and-45-minute-long show, which made you want to drink a lot more Cheetah Power Surge, would have been better spent performing songs from her vast catalogue of hits—the most conspicuously absent one being “Get the Party Started”. Besides, the video for Isaak’s song really objectifies women.
For the encore, Pink, in a gold bodysuit, attached herself to cables and proceeded to do her best Cathy Rigby impersonation. While singing “So What”, she flew and flipped across the entire arena. At times, she was almost high enough to touch our nonexistent Stanley Cup banners. After detaching, she wasn’t on the ground long before she emulated her 2010 Grammy performance by hopping into aerial silks to do an incredibly dangerous-looking gymnastics routine above the stage while singing the touching, emotional ballad “Glitter in the Air”.
Pink survived this wickedly entertaining performance, and hopefully she won’t wait another 11 years before returning. As we filed out, everyone felt elated, empowered, and stoked about those ads in the concourse for an upcoming Dixie Chicks concert… Oh God, who knew that emasculating stage would turn out to be a prophetic warning?
It’s not everyday you get to watch a former Mouseketeer and a former crack dealer perform at the same time. On paper, The Legends of the Summer Stadium Tour that featured pop star Justin Timberlake and rapper Jay Z certainly seemed like an odd pairing. Yes, the two have been collaborating on tracks lately, but surely one can’t throw up the Roc-A-Fella diamond sign and bring sexy back at the same time.
“Y’all ready to party?” the ex-‘N Syncer asked after taking to the stage and singing the intro to “Holy Grail”, off of Shawn Carter’s latest, Magna Carta… Holy Grail. B.C. Place was indeed, with its stupidly expensive roof, which was open for once, and packed full of normals. (Presumably, the Honda Celebration of Light, which was happening at the same time as this show, and pricey tickets kept the dregs of Granville Street away.)
Thankfully, the pair didn’t linger too long on their latest musical offerings, which, let’s face it, blow. On the obligatory four-storey-high stage, which featured massive LED screens and 18 or so backup performers that you couldn’t care less about, JT and J-Hova treated those in attendance to a two-hour-and-15-minute-long hit parade.
After a medley that included “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)”, “Rock Your Body”, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, and “Excuse Me Miss”, it quickly became clear how this show was going to work: Timberlake would sing the hooks on Jay Z songs and Jay Z would say “Uh-huh” and “Yeah” during Timberlake songs. It was also clear that these two have a fuck-tonne of stage presence and most would be content to watch Mr. Biel and Mr. Knowles spending the evening giving a lecture about how sweet the new Myspace is.
On their own, neither could pack B.C. Place—you need to be a Beatle or Taylor Swift to do that. But both proved more than capable of keeping the 40,000-plus in attendance satiated when they were on-stage performing solo.
The shrillest squeals of the evening came whenever JT, who seemed the more human of the two, busted out the dance moves. Yes, he was electric and can still get down. Hearing those shrieks definitely made it seem like the majority in attendance was there to see him. Apparently, an extended hiatus from music to take on plum acting roles in The Love Guru and Yogi Bear hasn’t hurt his stock in the slightest.
Though the show was unforgettable, it was not without cornball moments. One that sticks out is Timberlake crooning Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”, which was, naturally, followed by “Empire State of Mind”. However, the biggest came just before the final song of the evening, “Young Forever”, when Jay Z, who barely acknowledged the faithful all evening, made a left-field, cheapo attempt to tug at their heartstrings by dedicating it to Trayvon Martin.
As Timberlake sang the chorus, an impressive chunk of the crowd lit up the stadium with their smartphones at Jigga’s insistence. You couldn’t help but think he had devised a diabolical new means of mining everyone’s personal data off of them. (You know, like he did with that NSA-esque Samsung app last month.)
Fighting your way out of B.C. Place, it wasn’t hard to overhear people uttering, “Best show ever”. When you’ve got two top-shelf showmen with tremendous bodies of work, chances are you’re in for a once-in-a-lifetime evening. The Legends of the Summer Tour lived up to its braggadocio name, regardless if your idea of a good time is watching Disney movies or smoking crack.
photo courtesy of the georgia straight
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in august 2013
Recently got a website up for the Fei and Milton K. Wong Family Foundation.
Pretty Lights towers above most electronic music producers, and that’s not just because he’s 6-8. The reason the man born Derek Vincent Smith is better than most is because he makes music and puts on a show you’re not ashamed to like. No one will call you Christopher Hitchens for being skeptical about some of these uninspired laptop producers who think merely pressing the space bar on their MacBooks makes a great live experience. Pretty Lights simply isn’t one of them. This, however, has left a few ravers scratching their Fun Fur hats when he performs at EDM festivals.
“My music doesn’t fit into the category where I’m a DJ up on-stage spinning four-on-the-floor dubstep,” he tells the Straight from his home in Denver, Colorado, which he shares with his girlfriend and two kittens. “Half of the crowd is super hard-core and loving it. One quarter of the crowd is like, ‘This is cool, but I’m confused. When is David Guetta coming on?’ ”
The 31-year-old producer’s sound, early DJ Shadow– and Ninja Tune–inspired instrumental hip-hop, coupled with his melt-your-face-awesome visuals have made him a favourite at everything from hippy tribal gatherings to rap shows to megafestivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella.
“It’s hard to take a 90 bpm hip-hop beat and make it beautiful and soulful, but at the same time get 20,000 people at festivals to throw their hands up in the air,” he explains. “I try to take this really soulful, downtempo inspiration and add power and energy to it. That’s how my sound started with Pretty Lights.”
Aside from being a great listen, his latest album, A Color Map of the Sun, is a production nerd’s wet dream. Rather than digging through records to find samples, he made his own. Over the span of a year, Pretty Lights led 43 musicians—performing everything from classical to funk to jazz to soul—and pressed the sessions onto vinyl. He then grabbed the platters and ran it through a pile of analogue gear to create his fourth full-length.
“It became the norm that musicians came in with some level of skepticism,” he says of asking virtuoso players to perform the same riffs endlessly without improvisation. But, “you do that consistently for the right amount of time and I’m going to be able to catch the four seconds of a recording that is pure magic. That’s what I was searching for.”
If all this sounds somewhat intriguing, but you’re unwilling to drop $9.99 on iTunes, the album is also available for free on his website. The philosophy behind this is simple—he “realized there was a loophole: word of mouth spreads about the quality of music faster than it spreads about the nature of how you get the music.”
This big, friendly giant might be onto something here, as A Color Map of the Sun has sold well, peaking at number two on Billboard’s dance-music chart, even though it clocked over 100,000 downloads on his site.
Pretty Lights points out that there’ll be “no play button involved” with his set at the Squamish Valley Music Festival; all 10 of his fingers will be used as he recreates the new one live. However, if you don’t care about any of that stuff and just want to have fun, know that it’s going to look and sound really fucking cool when he shuts the place down on Saturday night. Best of all, you won’t hate yourself in the morning.
photo courtesy of the georgia straight
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in august 2013
In order of most to least fuckable, One Direction consists of five men who are over the age of consent named Harry, Zayn, Liam, Niall, and Louis. If you live in a naive bubble where commercial dance-pop simply isn’t on your radar despite the millions of albums they’ve sold and the billions of YouTube plays they’ve accrued, here’s what else you need to know: 1D is a ridiculously popular boy band from London, England, who perform catchy, tightly produced songs that somehow manage to be saccharine and nonthreatening as they taunt you with lyrics about how they’re going to plow your daughter. Yes, this impeccably marketed and well-choreographed song-and-dance machine probably sounds all too familiar to you. But here’s the thing: One Direction is actually quite incredible.
Oh, sure, along with its music, there are apps, clothing lines, fragrances, and board games with the members’ handsome faces plastered all over them. But crass commercialism is part and parcel of any decent pop project. Andy Warhol once said: “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
Let’s hope these lads have another 15 minutes of fame left in them, because the empire they’ve built up in three years is awe-inspiring. Hell, I’m positive Warhol would even love their cover that mashes up Blondie’s “One Way or Another” and the Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks”. “Gee, that’s great,” he’d say.
That pop music is vapid and lacking substance is an ignorant notion. Pop is the most interesting and culturally relevant music out there. Rock, EDM, and their multitude of indie subgenres are what’s moribund these days. I’ll happily give the latest One Direction album a play over some Bearhunter side project that was anointed a nine-point-whatever on a sycophantic music blog last week.
Boy bands—from Hanson to NKOTB to the Rolling Stones—have always had a difficult time being taken seriously. That’s a damn shame, because they’re tackling real issues with their music, and it speaks on a global scale to young women dealing with their hormones. Most bands I catch are bar window-dressing who interrupt my important conversations. Have you ever seen the blissed-out expression on a Directioner’s face when they hear “What Makes You Beautiful” performed live? It stimulates a spiritual experience that’s more powerful than ayahuasca could ever give them.
Appealing largely to women is a sure-fire way to never get the critical recognition you deserve. Plain and simple, it’s snobbishness that’s rooted in sexism. You see, music writing is overpopulated with annoying white dudes. (I’d know. I’m one of them and still curse my parents to this day because of it. Inconsiderate assholes.)
At present, think tanks made up of our country’s biggest music nerds are busy heaping praise, awards, and novelty-size cheques on Arcade Fire, Feist, and Metric—basically the aural equivalent of a dogs-playing-poker poster. (And people wonder why the music and publishing industries are in the shitter.)
While this is going on, timeless classics by Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, which have the grandness and beauty of Jeff Koons sculptures, get ignored. A hundred years from now, I guarantee “Baby” and “Call Me Maybe” will still be around and making us smile. The mere mention of boring Cancon acts will get you banished to the Forbidden Zone where you’ll have to deal with cannibals.
So have fun stroking your chins, making snide remarks, and being too cool to look like you’re having a good time in half-empty concert venues this weekend, fuckers. I’ll be at the One Direction show in a stadium full of people who are having the time of their lives. Hopefully, Harry notices me, but failing that, I’d settle for Louis.
photo courtesy of the georgia straight
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in july 2013
A shot from the balcony of the Fox Porno Theatre. (Note the toilet paper dispenser.)
As you may be aware, the Arrival Agency and David Duprey have begun renovations at the Fox Theatre on Main Street. For posterity’s sake, here are some photos of the inside of the last porn theatre in Vancouver. This is not safe for work or the faint of heart. You’ve been warned…
photos by michael mann unless otherwise noted
Property crime is no laughing matter unless Mohinder spray-paints a building, and then it’s kind of hilarious. I first saw this oddly endearing tag—his name crudely drawn in all caps—pop up back in April. Since then, it’s been impossible not to notice these audaciously placed chicken scratches on overpasses, awnings, walls, and the odd cube van. The scourge of East Vancouver has delighted Instagram users, accumulated an impressive pile of press clippings, and inspired a series of bootleg T-shirts. What hath this vandal wrought?
“Mohinder is the king right now,” proclaims Rhek, a graphic designer, a reformed tagger, and somewhat of a local graffiti historian. “I like people who run around and mix things up and make the world more interesting. It confuses people, gets people talking, and gets the discussions going about ‘What is art?’ and ‘What is public space versus private space?’ It’s one kid getting his name up and making himself famous. It’s a DIY, self-made, ego-driven occupation that’s pointless, and I really enjoy that sort of thing.”
Part of the charm of Mohinder tags is their, well, shittiness. “It’s basically outsider art within an outsider art,” Rhek explains. “Whether or not he knows this, Mohinder is in a legacy of Vancouver writers whose prolificness is more important than their aesthetic.”
This noble order of janky property defilers includes Oaph, with his crummy anthropomorphized snakes; Alex G, whose tag looked like it was written by someone with Tourette’s; and Mr. 8, whose goofy name can still be seen scrawled around town.
Despite the sometimes dubious talent showcased in our alleyways, Rhek believes that “tagging is definitely an art form. The thing about it is there are all these knucklehead idiots who get into graffiti who have now grown up and become successful, creative individuals. I don’t think they would have found that route if it wasn’t for actually spending time drawing like a bunch of dorks.”
Notable dorks include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kaws, Barry McGee, and Dash Snow, who all got their start tagging walls before their lionization in the art world. Hell, Tony Shafrazi, a gallerist who did shows with Basquiat and Haring in the ’80s, first made a name for himself by tagging Pablo Picasso’s Guernica with “Kill Lies All” when it was on display at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art in 1974.
Though obviously not as revered as the aforementioned, a hometown example is The Dark, who has been decorating walls in Vancouver for the past 12 years and has shown work in galleries locally and abroad.
A Mohinder cynic, The Dark believes the tags are probably hipster bullshit. “Any jackass with a spray can can be a graffiti writer these days. Anyone can get drunk, wander home from work, and hit every wall they see till they run out of paint,” he says petulantly, but concedes: “I’ve done it, so I guess I can’t be super-critical.”
For The Dark’s approval, placement is key. “Context with the environment is important. Are you just randomly hitting walls or are you hitting cool spots?”
As ridiculous as it may seem, there are graffiti rules. Basically, you’re not supposed to hit churches, heritage buildings, or independent businesses. While The Dark believes that graffiti ethics are “full of shit”, they exist, and Mohinder is bombing spots that others wouldn’t.
So who is this rule breaker amongst rule breakers? Well, I tracked him down and it wasn’t difficult. Despite repeated interview requests, I got stonewalled. However, I was able to glean a fair bit of information by creeping him online. Especially amusing is his blog, where he’s documented a lot of his tags—East Van businesses aren’t up against a Professor Moriarty–type supervillain here. (Judging from the blog’s content, he’s likely responsible for those ubiquitous drawings of the whiskery man in the Panama hat, too.)
I’ll stop short of naming him, because that’s ethically dicey territory. Oh, screw it. If Mohinder’s tags teach us anything, it’s that there are no rules. Mohinder’s real name is Zachary, which, if tagged on a wall, probably wouldn’t yield many likes on Instagram.