by Mel Zee

  It gets tiring after a while to watch bands play to apathetic crowds. Especially when the same crowd suddenly develops enthusiasm for the DJ set between bands. It happens at way too many shows these days. Often the bands aren’t there at all and it’s just a full-on dance party. Instead of intermittent feigned interest at the acts onstage, the crowd’s excitement lasts all night. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of hearing “Blue Monday” and “Rock Lobster.” I mean, they’re great songs and I love them, but come on… really? Five nights a week? Instead of watching rad live bands people would rather hear ‘80s hits and vogue for photographers who’ll (fingers crossed) put their bleary-eyed picture up on Facebook? I can’t help but find that bleak and totally uninspiring.

  A few years ago, shows were shows and dance parties were dance parties. Now, they’re one and the same. Is it because promoters know that people don’t really care about bands so they book hybrid shows with DJs to make more money? If that’s the case, I guess it’s good for the bands to get more exposure and money to put towards touring or recording, but is this weird Granville-esque crowd really who they want to be exposed to? Are these shows really about seeing live music or are they more about being seen?

  East Van is probably going to get a Roxy-style nightclub soon. I honestly wouldn’t doubt it. It would just be on some “hip” corner like Carrall and Hastings. Yeah, it’d really fit in there and would be “good for the neighbourhood.” I heard someone say that about the Waldorf and it made me laugh out loud. Thank God places like the Alf House still exist.

  I don’t mean to be a big downer, really. It’s just that when DJ nights become more popular than bands who actually spend time and energy crafting songs and pouring their hearts into making music, it kinda bums me out. I’d rather go to a show with a crowd of six people who genuinely care about the music than be trampled by a hundred people who think that Beyoncé is a feminist or that “The Real Slim Shady” is a classic.

  It seems to me that, more often than not, people are partaking in things because they are funny and not because they actually care about them. And that’s kinda what I’m reminded of when DJs are put on pedestals. Shouldn’t we all be more concerned with bigger, more meaningful things in life than dressing up, getting drunk, snorting coke off a toilet paper dispenser and doing the running man? Are irony and fun being valued higher than creativity and thinking critically? Or am I just being really goth?

  I get it, though—dance parties are fun. For real, they are. It’s just that Vancouver has so much more to offer than good coke and Madonna/Kanye West mash-ups. There’s more to life than wearing $200 high-waisted jean shorts and grinding with a guy with a newly shaved John Waters moustache. There are so many amazing, inspiring bands in this city but often, unless they’re sandwiched in with at least two DJs playing Michael Jackson songs that people can pretend to moonwalk to, few people hear them. Maybe it’s just easier to host DJ nights. I mean, if you can’t inspire people to appreciate live music, you can at least inspire them to procreate with “Back That Azz Up”, right?

[Ed. Mel Zee hosts the monthly Junkyard night at Pat’s Pub, where you’re more likely to see a punk band than hear a Mystikal song]