Walking in through the narrow hallway of the Zoo Zhop on a rainy Friday night, I was ready for just about anything. The recently established record store’s modest backroom—furnished with nothing but a single fluorescent light, a fan and an oddly placed sheet—was already full of raw and uncontained energy as I stepped in. Vancouver’s home-brewed punks, TimeCopz, were already in full swing, blaring out their frantic set to a surprisingly diverse crowd of a variety ages and backgrounds. Making the most of their basic trio set-up, the band filled the place with charged riffs and shout-out choruses, although the backup vocals were often better heard than the almost inaudible lead vocalist.
After a strenuous sound check the Shrapnelles, an imposing all-girl outfit from Alberta took to the stage. With tastefully reverbed Gretsch guitar licks and haunting four-piece harmonies, the girls played a tight set that was received with a visible increase in the level of chaos among the tightly packed audience, eventually resulting in quite a few discarded beer cans flying at the band. After getting whacked twice in a row, the Shrapnelles’ front-woman, Greasy, reacted with a storming outburst of unfeigned ire in her vocals, which almost immediately set the crowd back under control. The band proved to be in control of their act, leaving none indifferent to their “pussy power” as they so aptly coined it.
Headliners Myelin Sheaths promptly took over wasting no unnecessary time on set up. By this point the crowd unraveled into full motion, whether it was all the booze finally getting its money’s worth, or the Alberta raw garage-punk-quartet’s overwhelming drive, or a good combination both, the atmosphere was irresistible and it was becoming nearly impossible to stand back idly. As the band unleashed its hook-laden set with catchy numbers like “Half-Wit” and “What’s Yer Diagnosis,” the mosh pit was borderline dangerously wild with crowd surfing and back-flips galore. The flagship piece “Mental Twist” proved to be a blast, overall making for a great energetic set.
On the down side, the sound suffered from a very rudimentary set-up, occasionally drowning out guitar solos and making lyrics unintelligible for the majority of the time, however, this proved to be no barrier for the unstoppable breed of garage-punk that sounded this night. Powerful choruses and foot-stomping beats compensated for a lack of crispness, and the completely down-to-earth feel of the Zoo Zhop proved to be a fitting setting for this type of madness, creating a very personal experience. The venue itself has some great potential which it could realize with some investment into the sound system as well as a possible addition of a bar on-site.