For Music Waste I checked out SBC Restaurant, the new incarnation of the legendary Smiling Buddha Cabaret, to see Gun Control, Durban Poison, Dumb and Mosfett for Saturday, June 4th. As I found out when I arrived, the floor in front of the stage is now a giant half-pipe, the beer is cheap, and the venue is exactly as grimy as you’d like it to be.
The audience was a bit sparse when Gun Control started, but singer Steve Mann entertained them by throwing candy on the floor and kicking around an oversized balloon. Their sound was reminiscent of ‘90s alt-rock à la Our Lady Peace or the Wallflowers. They were radio-friendly, even catchy at times. Despite their antics, the band’s energy was a bit shy and mismatched overall. While Mann was sassy, the bassist was literally hidden behind a monitor, the drummer looked like she was concentrating really hard, and I don’t even remember the other two guitarists. I was left with the impression of a new band still finding its feet.
Durban Poison was the band I was most excited to see and enjoyed the least. Online they sounded like early Wipers, or other classic garage or punk bands, but as soon as the music started, singer Madi Corvette’s reverb-drenched vocals were totally inaudible against a powerful wall of fuzzy guitar. Durban Poison had all the style and confidence that Gun Control lacked. The band clearly understood the concepts of stage presence. Unfortunately, they didn’t understand the concept of live mixing. When the sound man mentioned to Corvette that we couldn’t hear them, they blithely replied “That’s the point.” Although more upbeat and rock ‘n’ roll than the first band, Durban Poison’s garage rock sound got lost in the effort to be more shoegazey.
The crowd finally started to come to life and shake their asses for Dumb. They were a pleasant surprise of the evening, rocking a set of proto-punk-meets-prog-meets-’90s-alt-rock. At times singer ‘Franco Rossino”s voice reminded me of a young Jello Biafra and the guitar sound ranged from dreamy and distant to progressive and almost doom metal. Between songs ‘Rossino’ read rhyming couplets that related to life in Vancouver.
The crowd had been steadily growing all night, and Mosfett, the final act of the night pounded the appreciative audience with a wall of guitar driven sound, reminiscent of QOTSA. The songs went from mid-tempo, melodic numbers to heavier, more guitar-driven riff-rock, although some of the solos fell a bit flat. I was impressed with their stage presence and their long, greasy, scumbag hair. Mosfett struck the perfect balance between heavy and catchy; Blair’s KinKnacker’s vocals spanned the map from screaming to sing-songy “oohs” and the crowd appreciated it.
Overall, all the bands of the night brought back a seriously ‘90s alt / punk vibe and they had the perfect venue for it. The SBC has definitely made a new regular in me.
See all the photos of Music Waste Part 3 by Shane Burzynski here.