Olio Festival: Music/Comedy/Art/Film

“It allows people of various types to mix creativities in a way that would not be possible if we were showing each art form separately.” ­—Dani Vachon

Recessionistas get ready to party—there is a new festival in town! Born out of a late night talk at a party earlier this year, the first annual Olio (pronounced oh-lee-oh) Festival will be taking place in 19 venues across the city from Aug. 13 to 16. Modeled after Pop Montreal (Olio business director Scott Roberts has helped run Pop Montreal in the past), Olio will feature over 80 shows with enticing outside acts alongside the best of Vancouver’s music, art and comedy scenes. All for the recession-friendly price of $25!

The word “olio” means a medley of musical or literary sections and this is embodied in the setup of the festival. Olio shows off Vancouver in a way the directors feel our city deserves and it tears away the myth that Vancouver is “no fun city.” Olio celebrates the cultural smorgasbord Vancouver has to offer.

“Vancouver needs to showcase itself—it’s a young city, what only 100, maybe 150 years old? Montreal’s 400! We may have some catching up to do—but it’s a great place, too,” reflected Jason Sulyma (a.k.a. MY!GAY!HUSBAND!), the promotions director for the festival. [ed. After making this comment Sulyma did some research and found out that Vancouver was first settled in roughly 1860. It was later incorporated in 1886. Depending on what you consider the start of the city that makes Vancouver either 149 or 123 years old.]

“We want to bring the bands out of East Van to showcase to people how much talent there is,” Sulyma said. Olio brings in bigger name acts and mixes them with local favourites, aiming to expose local groups to a wider audience. For example, Chicago DJ duo Flosstradamus has been paired with Vancouver’s Gang Violence at the Biltmore on Friday Aug. 14.

Various art forms have also been “olioed.” Most concert venues will also double as art showcases. On top of this, one location each night will have music, art and comedy! This hodgepodge trend is something that Dani Vachon, Olio’s production director and the co-founder of Sealed with a Kiss, is particularly excited about. “It allows people of various types to mix creativities in a way that would not be possible if we were showing each art form separately,” she explained.

A different area of Vancouver is featured each night, with the purpose of allowing people to discover new venues and areas of the city in a “neighbourhood crawl.” Thursday focuses on Gastown, Main street on Friday, and Downtown on Saturday. The festival will finish up with a massive party at Venue. The basic premise of Olio is fun. So, come out and experience the many sorts of excitement Vancouver has to offer! Below is a chronologically arranged list of the bands that shouldn’t be missed.


Fine Mist
Duo Megan McDonald and Jay Arner have molded the seemingly simple combination of vocals and synth into super catchy pop songs. Transporting you into their living room with a set up of brass unicorns and dream catchers, it’s impossible to resist joining Megan as she asks the audience to participate. Audiences have learned the words and now come prepared to sing and dance. Seeing Fine Mist is simply fun and gets even better when you catch yourself singing the songs again to yourself on your walk home from the show. Fine Mist plays at the Unfamiliar Records showcase at 10:15 p.m. at the Red Room.

[ed. As of Aug. 6 White Lung is missing a guitarist and will be unable to play this show. If you’re still looking for something agressive to listen to though may we suggest checking out Adjective at 11:15 p.m. at Funky Winkerbeans.]
Wielding their own unique brand of punk rock, White Lung comes at you like a punch to the face. Their sound is gritty and raw and the four females behind the band make no apologies. Lead vocalist Mish Way possesses what can only be described as a kick-ass growl that lets you know these girls are not to be messed with. With this band you know you are guaranteed an aggressive and entertaining live show that’s going to get messy. White Lung will be unleashed at 11:30 p.m. at the Cobalt.


Apollo Ghosts
With their fun, energetic rock songs, Apollo Ghosts have become a Vancouver staple. Found regularly in art galleries, coffee shops and small venues around the city, the band’s performances are always enjoyable. The members clearly love to play their music and bring the audience into the show with playful stage banter. Their Olio performance marks their return from a small West Coast tour supporting their new EP, Forgotten Triangle. Don’t miss them at 10:00 p.m. at the Mint Records showcase at the Anza Club.

World Club
Every so often certain artists burrow deep into our brain and remain there forever—but in a good way. World Club has been on constant repeat for many since their performance at Music Waste. The band’s songs are multi-dimensional and aggregates of several different but well-informed musical ideas. Evidence for this can be found in the fantastic “Sick Machines” whose Liars’ pulse is interrupted by Slint-style riffing without once losing its haunting effect. When you finish reading, go listen to World Club and make plans to see them play at 11:00 p.m. at the Biltmore.

The Whitsundays
Coming to us all the way from Edmonton is the vintage garage psychedelia of the Whitsundays. If you haven’t heard their debut self-titled album, it’s worth grabbing (or downloading) so you can hum along to the Whitsunday’s organ-soaked walls of Brit-rock inspired sound. The band is an experienced group of musicians who don’t tour much, but spend a lot of time on other projects (like Shout Out Out Out Out, the Faunts and the Wet Secrets) so if you are a fan, take this chance to see them while you can. The Whitsundays play at midnight at the Mint Records showcase at the Anza Club.


Made up of Peter Ricq and Robbie Slade this duo combines elements of electro, reggae and dub in a fresh style that’s unique in Vancouver—think heavy dance beats with a mix of disaffected and falsetto vocals. They focus on getting people’s bodies moving so the dance night they’ve got going on with Pop Machine should be a blast. Humans play at 10:00 p.m. at the Ayden Gallery.

Sun Wizard
At festivals like this one, sometimes the best part is seeing a new band for the first time. One such new band is Sun Wizard, a quartet formed about six months ago by singer-guitarists James Younger (formerly of the Green Hour) and Malcom Jack (formerly of the Hung Jury), drummer Ben Frey (formerly of Adelaide) and bassist Frank Lyon. In their relatively brief time together, the band has moved from a rootsy folk-rock to a more straight ahead rock sound, and played a handful of well-received sets around town. By the time you read this, the boys will have just finished recording for their first release, an EP due in the fall. Sun Wizard plays at 10:30 p.m. at the Railway Club.

Maluca is the stage name of Natalie Ann Yepez, a New York native of Dominican descent. According to Yepez, her music combines Latin American styles such as salsa, merengue and cumbia with a dose of hip-hop, reggae and house. But don’t worry, it does not sound like reggaeton. She’s recently signed to Mad Decent, the label run by Diplo, who produced her hot debut single, “El Tigeraso.” As a strong female performer with a connection to Diplo, comparisons to M.I.A. and Santogold are inevitable, but Maluca looks like she’s set to make her own mark. Maluca plays at midnight at the Mad Decent showcase at Venue.