There’s a stack of paper by my bedside that’s steadily grown since I started jotting down every single concert I’ve been to since the ‘90s. Unfortunately, years of wear have caused the paper to tear; the corners of each sheet are crinkled, the Bic ink of my little boy scribble is starting to fade and the paper itself is stained yellow from oxidization. Terrified of losing my log, I recently started digitizing the list onto my laptop and it’s…it’s been a bit of a chore. I’m only at the year 2000 and I’m already well over 300 shows into this project.
I can tell you this: things didn’t start off so hot. On September 4, 1990, the first day of school, my parents took my sister and I to B.C. Place to see the New Kids on the Block. I’ll admit I had some fun watching Joey-Joe hang tough with his buds, but the real reason I was brought to the gig was because my mom and dad knew there was no way in hell they were going to find a babysitter for me on what was essentially the biggest day of the year for teen girls city-wide. Three years later, I was redeemed when my dad brought me back to the venue to watch Neil Young, Pearl Jam and a pre-public urination scandal Blind Melon.
The most significant show of those early years, oddly enough, took place on August 12, 1995 just outside of that very same stadium. The NFA skatejam in the parking lot was headlined by local hip-hoppers the Rascalz, but it was a performance from the super trashy hardcore act Pipebomb that blew me away. They were fast, obnoxious and furious and proved to me that you didn’t need to shell out the big bucks for out-of-town bands to be entertained. Since then—like a lot of you, I imagine—I’ve caught countless gigs at downtown bars, barns in Langley, house shows in the suburbs and everywhere in between just to see my favourite bands. And you know what? A ton of them were home-grown.
Truthfully, I haven’t seen all of the bands featured in this issue. The first time I saw Heavy Chains, however, was last summer underneath a bridge in East Van and their skull-penetrating, cyclical grunge licks have been stuck in my mind ever since. I do think I’ll have to head out to Abbotsford, don some body paint and freak out to spazzters GSTS sometime soon, though. I’ll make sure not to get neon dye all over my keyboard when I type up the post-show details.