If you’ve ever stepped foot into 333, you know to bring your jacket. The punk venue stood in the heart of the industrial neighborhood, and could be easily dismissed as just another garage. And I mean, you’d be almost right, save for the stage, tattered couch, and graffiti plastered bathroom. The garage vibe was complete with the lack of heating system, which most of the crowd doesn’t seem to mind, as they wait for the first band, Sweater Vest.
I was curious to see the initial reaction of the crowd to Sweater Vest, who were given the pleasure of being the first to play at a small show. A large majority of the crowd stood stagnant as they played the first half of their set with a handful of audio problems, screeching amps, and the like. Most of the time, vocals were left unheard and I was left guessing what was being said. It felt like a miracle when the singing came through on “Kevin’s song”, as Kevin himself took the lead vocals. It’s not often that drummers are able to keep a rhythm chugging along while singing, but he pulled off the drum and vocal combo in a very expressive manner.
Next up was Z!k, a garage group out of Victoria. The crowd was warmed up by this point, and taking command of the stage seemed organic for Z!k. Within moments, the mosh had begun and the crowd’s energy fed back into the band. The guitarist’s fingers were placed haphazardly across the fretboard, but he managed to play aggressively and thrash around on stage, which kept everyone well entertained. Only at the end of the set had I realized that Z!k had brought quite a crowd, and I could have sworn it wasn’t so cold anymore.
Then came The Plodes, who are a two person band — a nice change of pace, but you would have thought there would be something missing. I mean, come on: guitar, drums and vocals couldn’t be enough, right? Wrong.
For their opening song “Water!Tree!,” if I closed my eyes, I’d swear to you that frontman Reid Blakely was flying across the stage, twitching like a madman. To my disbelief, he stood calm in one spot. I’d also be lying to you if I said it wasn’t odd, but the manic drive was refreshing and a highlight of the night.
To cap the night, tv ugly played the last set. By this point, most of the crowd had evaporated, leaving only a handful of diehard fans and supporters, and, after The Plodes’ performance, the pack seemed in a more eased state. The multi-instrumentalist group took turns passing off their instruments, and every song had different stylistic touches. The shifting nature of the group kept every song fresh and ended the night with a nice chunk of variety.
It truly is a blessing to have this venue in Vancouver. The age inclusive space allowed plenty of younger listeners to wander in and enjoy the night. With lineups like that, I’m sure I’ll be back again to this cold garage (with a thicker sweater).