Real Live Action

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The Cribs

w/ PAWS

Words + Photography
Eric Thompson

The Cobalt was dark and smelled strongly of beer. The graffiti on the walls and on the tables sat proudly, unharmed, like a badge of honor. But something was off — craft beers replaced dirt-cheap pilsners, posters were forgone by electronic signs proudly displaying upcoming shows and tobacco advertisements, and the vending machines were stocked with vape supplies and venue-branded t-shirts. It all seemed very inauthentic.

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PAWS||Photography by Eric Thompson for Discorder Magazine

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was alive even for the opening act, a bold three-piece indie outfit from Glasgow, Scotland. PAWS opened the show with “Catherine 1956,” their tribute to frontman Philip Taylor’s late mother. It wasn’t the best performance of the song I’ve seen — it was a bit sterile and lacked emotion — but it was a solid introduction to the lo-fi indie-garage-rock sound of PAWS for the mostly unfamiliar crowd. It was followed by an explosive and passionate performance of “Tongues” that immediately won the affection of those here for the headline act, and brought an energy to both the crowd and the band that carried throughout the set.

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PAWS||Photography by Eric Thompson for Discorder Magazine

PAWS tend to play almost all of their songs differently live than in the studio. While it usually works to their advantage and creates a highly energetic atmosphere, the accelerated tempo at which they played their biggest hit, “Sore Tummy” ruined the integrity of the song. However, the ending crescendo with Taylor standing on top of Josh Swinney’s bass drum was as electric as ever, a highlight of any PAWS show. “Bloodline,” on the other hand, an angry, loud punk-influenced tune became much more powerful when sped up. By the end of their 45-minute set, most The Cribs fans in the crowd had become PAWS fans as well.

Before leaving the stage, Taylor announced that The Cribs were “one of the best live bands on earth,” so I was expecting a lot from the three brothers from Yorkshire. Promoting their new album, the sarcastically titled 24-7 Rock Star S**t, The Cribs did something I’ve never seen before — they played songs exactly as they sound on the records while still keeping the energy at a fervorous high. Some bands play studio perfect live but aren’t exciting, while others, like PAWS, bring excitement and emotion to their shows but no two performances are alike.

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The Cribs||Photography by Eric Thompson for Discorder Magazine

The punk edge that The Cribs brought to the UK indie scene in the early ‘00s was as present as ever, both in their older hits and their newer material. The majority of the crowd seemed to be in their mid-to-late thirties, and, as a result, the most popular songs were those off of 2007 album Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs. Songs like “Our Bovine Public,” “Men’s Needs,” and “I’m a Realist” were met with raucous cheers and applause, jumping and dancing, and singing along, while the cuts from their 2017 album caused much less excitement.

As the evening went on, I began to feel as though every song was the same brand of punk-tinged indie-rock, but “Pink Snow” was a much-needed sharp turn towards some sort of Soundgarden or Bush sound. From 2015’s For All My Sisters, the seven-minute journey through tempo changes, haunting guitar chimes and a slow climb to insanity at the coda (with a generic indie song plunked directly in the middle), was a perfect way to end the evening on a high note. For very different reasons to their opener, The Cribs were a rock-solid and very impressive live act.

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333! Tour Kickoff

w/ Kimmortal, JB The First Lady, Missy D

author
Izzy Tolhurst
Image Courtesy of
333

It’s not often you get a show hyped for its all-female line-up, so when the opportunity comes to witness both exceptional hip-hop and fierce feminism in a single night, you should seize it. Carpe diem, right? The inaugural stop of the 333! Tour touched down at Café Deux Soleils on Friday, October 6, and was, as headliner JB the First Lady said, women combining “energy, light, love and sisterhood.” If this first show is a taste of what the tour offers, then expect brilliance from the remaining five stops, running around Vancouver until October 11.

Missy D kicked things off, saying, “as a woman of colour in music, I’m honoured to be a part of this.” There were songs about feelings, love and a lot of new stuff, delivered as “mellow hype; rappin’ soul.” Songs were about being an “MC, artist, woman, black woman,” and seeking value and respect in all identities. The final song was a track with Kimmortal called “XX” about “being the only rapper girl.” To say they killed it is an understatement.

It was an easy transition into Kimmortal’s set, and the Filipina-Canadian artist was mesmerising. Encouraging crowd participation, the audience got to choose whether Kimmortal played a “sexy song” or a “fuck-the-patriarchy song.” Punters sang along enthusiastically, buoyed by Kimmortal’s energy. Later, Lesley Gore’s famed song, “It’s My Party” underwent an impressive transformation, with Kimmortal insisting loudly that, “It’s my art and I can cry if I want to!” At the same time, a dancer was brought up for the final songs. “Music and art are really fucking powerful — we don’t need to doubt that,” she said to a sea of nodding and beaming faces as she readied the stage for JB the First Lady.

JB, a musician of the Nuxalk and Onondaga First Nations, was moving and astute. She used the space to experiment with songs, even abandoning some mid-way through; lyrics forgotten or incomplete. It mattered little, as the crowd cheered, laughed and respected the artist’s right to determine and style her art as she desired. Lines such as “I see the gaps / I have the maps,” and “The message is clear / They wanted us to disappear / But we’re still here!” spoke to Indigenous injustice, the perceived negligence of community leaders and ultimately to survival. It was hard not to be moved. A spoken word song silenced the room, and was the most affecting track of the night. The final song, “Wanting More,” was about having “dope sex — tonight, tomorrow or for the holiday.” Dancers and audience members joined her on stage for an important and entrancing celebration of women’s sexuality.

The 333 Tour! was evidence of women who use criticism as fuel rather than a deterrent to their practice — they’re spurred on by the firm belief that art is a true agent for change. It was a powerful, inspiring and incredibly important thing to witness.