Victory Square Block Party

"I loved all the bands playing"

Photo by Robert Fougere
Photo by Robert Fougere
I’ve truly missed it. I have no idea what it takes to put on a show like that, especially in a town that is such a stickler for permits and such. So when last year’s free concert on Hastings had to be scrapped, I was bummed. I hadn’t missed one yet. I was honoured to play at the third one. I love the vibe. I love the children belonging to members of bands running around like lunatics. I love the cops mostly leaving everyone alone. I love the community of artists, comedians and musicians hanging out together. And no sprinklers this year!

The clouds were so dark and angry looking the day before that I thought a downpour like the last Block Party in 2008 was inevitable, but the weather held quite nicely. I just wanted to say that I loved all the bands playing. There was criticism from a few of my friends that the bill was a little light on the heavy and experimental, and heavy on the light and poppy. But most of us were there to catch up with old pals and perk up our ears when our friend’s band hit the stage. I thought it was a good mix.

Sex Church
I’ll never ever see Sex Church play with Apollo Ghosts again, so it was nice to see. Levon, Sex Church’s singer, began the Block Party with the line “We’re Sex Church, and we’re cursed.” I didn’t know if he was alluding to the fact that they had to start the whole show right at 2 p.m. to a smattering of folks. But they made the most of it. I always liked Levon as a front man with his former bands, Master Apes and Ladies Night, so I thought it was a great beginning.

Ora Cogan
If there was a band that was truly cursed that Sunday, it might have been Ora Cogan and her band. There’s no bigger pain in the ass then having the mic feedback on you for your whole frickin’ set. Cogan was visibly shaken by the show, but she’s a pro. I bet she destroyed at her very next performance.

Makeout Videotape
Holy crap. That front man, Mac DeMarco, is loony. I have never seen anyone more comfortable on stage than that guy. The last time I saw him was two years ago at Music Waste and I thought the exact opposite. I thought, “their MySpace songs rule, but it’s pretty rough seeing them live.” I really enjoyed them this time around. They added a third member and it was great.

Lord Beginner
I have seen all of Lord Beginner in other bands, which is very common in Vancouver and Victoria. Together, they gel quite nicely, but their sounds were a little too slow and cautious for my tastes. However, they played well and I always love the way Mr. Patrick Beattie plays that organ.

Apollo Ghosts
What do I say about a band that I’ve seen 75 times? Great songs. Great frontman. Great use of bike in a performance. They have been threatening us all with the idea that their Victory Square performance might be their last show ever. I still don’t believe it. We’ll see.

The Tranzmittors
The Tranzmittors were up next and they delivered what they always deliver. It’s called the goods. Apollo Ghosts got a chunk of the crowd up for their set, and Tranzmittors kept them up with their rock ‘n’ roll sound that bounced so nice outside. Most of the children there belonged to this band.

The Pack A.D.
I had no problems with them ending off the show. They work so bloody hard. In between the songs, singer Becky Black joked about getting ready to be on tour forever, and it’s kind of true. I hear it in their songs. They’re becoming so skilled and Black’s voice is just so striking when she really belts it. That a capella tune she sometimes brings out is so effective. I wish them well on the road!!

Charlie Demers
Comedy and improv have been recent additions to the past couple of Block Parties, and I don’t know if it’s working. The best reaction a comedy segment got was during Emmet Hall’s Bubble Orchestra when, after about a thousand attempts, a giant bubble was formed and the crowd went ballistic. Charlie Demers, however, had the toughest time by attempting to do 20 minutes of stand up fighting through both the tuning of Tranzmittor guitars and four guys having the loudest conversation right in front of him. I felt for him. I read his book, Vancouver Special, and I was looking forward to how he was going to handle the situation. It was rough. He tried to make a go of it, but it was like he was treading water in a boiling pot! I never thought the toughest crowd to perform in front of was 500 drunken “hipsters”, but it must be up there.

Thanks to Cam Reed and the whole crew that made the show go pretty smooth. Thanks to all the bottle collectors, especially the one who waited a whole minute behind me while I finished my beer. Thanks to the weather. Thanks to the grumpy sound guy. Thanks to Toby from Canadian Content Improv. Your handling of that flasher was the best comedy of the day. Here’s hoping this Labour Day tradition isn’t a bi-annual thing.