Real Live Action

Real Live Action: Shindig Finale 2022

w/ SoyJoy, Gadfly, Jackson Ramsey, and M01E

Matt "Ploo" Plyukhin

Have you ever gotten that feeling while looking at someone that reminds you they’re just as much a person as you are? That they’ve experienced some of the same feelings, stories, and events that you feel like no one would understand? Yeah, that’s what Shindig, CiTR’s month long battle-of-the-bands, feels like. The Shindig Finale showed me the importance of local art and music and how beautifully human it all is. Four bands had made it that night to compete in the finale: SoyJoy, Gadfly, Jackson Ramsey, and MO1E, and I mean it with full sincerity when I tell you that each of these bands have absolutely earned their way there. 

The night began with SoyJoy, an alt folk band that made it clear that they knew their shit as soon as they finished their first song. Peace, harmonies, and absolute grooves — those three words echoed through my mind as the bass guitarist got off the stage and started jamming in the crowd. It was the first breaking of the barrier that night between the audience and the band, the first reminder that these performers are just as much us as we are them. 

The room quiets out as Gadfly takes the stage next, beginning with an Iranian folk song — a protest against the crimes committed by the government of Iran. The lead singer’s voice fades out, concluding the song, and fuzz waves in. *ting ting ting ting* BOOM. I found myself in the thick of crunchy guitars, thrashing drums, and bellowed vocals. With pretty much a snap, Gadfly had instantly turned the room into a mosh of kicks and devil horns. Remarkable doesn’t even begin to describe it.

As the guitars and basses are taken off stage, I see a familiar synth brought onto the stage, one that could only be a sign of a band I was lucky enough to see on the first day of Shindig: Jackson Ramsey. Made up of an equally insanely passionate drummer and synth player, the duo took the night and poured musical buckets of multi-coloured paint in the air with their electronic rock. I got to talk with them a little at the end of the night, chatting about the value of local music events like Shindig being able to bring people into a tight knit community, one that sometimes doesn’t even need to say a word to one another. 

MO1E. I can’t think of a basic description of the band that even barely does them justice. The best way I can describe them is with the images that echo in my mind from their performance. A pink dog collar. Red makeup. Ripped guitar strings. Screams. Lots and lots of screaming. These distinct images stick in my mind because the audience was always interacting with the band, matching the screams and kicks like call and response. The audience was half of the band, the lead guitar player even said so themself. MO1E is more than abstract punk, they are interactive art. 

The night came to a close, and as the staff and band members were putting the instruments and other gizmos away, the judges pondered who had earned the title of the Shindig champion. And the winner is… *drum roll in text for dramatic effect* JACKSON RAMSEY!! Congratulations to Jackson Ramsey! They absolutely deserved it. 🎉

All of these performances have helped me see the beauty in local shows. Shindig isn’t about meeting untouchable celebrities. It’s about meeting people that you could bump into anywhere in the Vancouver area. What’s funny is that the most memorable performance for me didn’t even happen at Shindig, it happened on my bus ride home. Someone was playing guitar with a group of friends in the back of the bus, singing songs and laughing. It stuck with me because it only reinforced my thoughts about Shindig, how local music ties both artist and audience together into an incomparable chosen family. If you walk or talk enough, there’s always going to be something beautiful to find about the people right next to you. Long live local music.

Real Live Action: UBC Drag

w/ Continental Breakfast, Margaux Rita, Jo Duree, Carrie Oki Doki, Karlie Hart, Blueejoy, Albion Top, and Noah Bodycares

Phoebe Fuller

“We can’t just exist as queer people and not be political,” says Continental Breakfast, a non-binary drag artist and host of tonight’s UBC Drag show. 

This sentiment describes the essence of UBC Drag, a biweekly drag show with a rotating cast of hosts and performers. Every other Wednesday, drag lovers descend upon Koerner’s Pub on UBC’s Point Grey campus for a night of campy fun, community connection, and queer consciousness-raising. 

The November 16th show filled the pub with an eclectic crowd eager to watch performances from vivacious host Continental Breakfast and drag artists Margaux Rita, Jo Duree, Carrie Oki Doki, Karlie Hart, Blueejoy, Albion Top, and debuting king Noah Bodycares. 

Coming to a UBC Drag show, you can expect three acts of diverse and dynamic performances from drag legends and babies alike. 

When I say diverse – I mean it. UBC Drag regularly features BIPOC, transgender, and non-binary drag queens, kings, things, and monsters, showcasing the breadth of rich artistry that drag offers. And when I say dynamic – I really mean it. The performers dance up and down the aisles, climb on top of the bar, crawl onto tables and toss props into the crowd. 

At $15 a ticket with pay-what-you-can options available, this is some of the best drag you can find in the GVA.

The spaces at the front and back of the room are the primary stage areas, but the venue is smartly set up so every seat offers a front-row experience as the performers weave, dance, and kick their way between tables. In between acts, Koerner’s excellent staff pour craft beers and mix Mai Tais while DJ Riley Cunningham spins crowd-pleasing tracks. 

Highlights of the show included a lipsync of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” by Carrie Oki Doki, complete with spinning discs she expertly switched from sticks to gloved fingers. Albion Top, whose performances regularly feature handmade crochet costumes, joyfully performed to a mash-up of “Splish Splash” by Bobby Darin and “Never Get Naked in Your Shower” by Julian Smith. The room filled with the glow of waving phone flashlights during Blueejoy’s emotional rendition of Avril Lavinge’s “When You’re Gone.” Ending their performance of COBRAH’s “BRAND NEW BITCH,” Karlie Hart dropped into the splits on top of one of the tables down the center of the room and the crowd erupted into gay ecstasy. 

But beyond the splits, glitter, rainbows, and lashes, UBC Drag emphasizes the political roots of drag as queer resistance and community building. The usual land acknowledgment is strengthened with a focus on Canada’s colonial history. Albion Top waves the non-binary flag during their performance. When asked to say something into the microphone, Carrie Oki Doki announces “trans rights,” prompting a roar of cheers from the audience.

The most striking feeling I had leaving the UBC Drag show was one of hope. I noticed the performer’s friends and families there supporting them, saw the performers supporting each other, and felt queer love filling the room. For one of their numbers, Continental Breakfast pledged to donate all tips to support their friend going through a housing crisis. That number received the most tips all night.

Drag is radically political, but it’s also radically hopeful. It challenges social injustice but persists anyway, offering solutions and inspiring others along the way.

If you love watching Rupaul’s Drag Race and you’re interested in seeing some live performances, make sure to show some love to your local drag talent. UBC Drag offers iconic, memorable, and inspiring shows for both new drag fans and those of us who have our $5 bills ready every weekend.