There is so much to do at Olio this year that it’s hard to decide which shows to attend. We figured we’d help narrow it down for you by picking out some of the best.
Vancouver Comedic Players, Rosa Parks Improv, the Skinny, Weekend Leisure @ the China Cloud
China Cloud regulars Bronx Cheer, Manhussy, Sister Act and the Sunday Service have pooled their talent with a revolving door of guests to form the Vancouver Comedic Players. Along side Rosa Parks Improv, the Skinny and Weekend Leisure (the driving force behind three weekly karaoke nights around Vancouver and producer of some of the finest jet ski related videos on the Internet.) This is sure to be a painfully funny night of improv and sketch comedy.
Koban, Sex Church @ Lick
Koban is one of our favourite duos in Vancouver, a town full of musical duos. For fans of post-punk, punk, noise, weird imagery and drum machines.
Sex Church on the other hand are a larger ensemble. If you made it early enough to see them open at the Victory Square Block Party you’ll already have gotten a taste of their drone and garage influenced punk, but if you didn’t now is your chance. They are loud; you won’t regret it.
The Abramson Singers @ Guilt & Co.
Guilt & Co. is one of the best venues to pop up in Vancouver in quite a while. Its homey cave-like walls are the perfect place to host an evening with the Abramson Singers. Leah Abramson leads the group’s simple and evocative harmonies with an old-fashioned folk music sound that sends heartbreaking shivers down your spine. Order a big glass of red wine and settle in for the night.
The Very Best, Basketball, Love & Elektrik @ Fortune Sound Club
Three very distinct acts, all very danceable.
The Very Best might seem like a cocky name for a band, but everything about these guys, fronted by the ebullient Esau Mwamwaya, is pure positivity. And once you’ve heard (and seen) them, you’ll have to agree that they are, if not the very best, at least one of the best Malawian-Swedish-French Afro-pop combos of recent years.
Setting the stage for TVB, two of Vancouver’s most exciting live acts will warm it up. Love & Electrik is the singing, rapping, synthy, keytar hero duo of Roxy Aistin and Kevin Mah, who also opened for the Very Best last the time they were in town, when they turned the Biltmore into a crazy, sweaty dance party. The globe-trotting Basketball similarly gets crowds bouncing with their performances that are less like a “show” to watch, and more akin to a chanting, wailing, visceral, rhythmic workout to join in.
Your caloric output at this show will be very high. Better stay hydrated and refuel with a few beers.
Speakerbruiser Rob, DJ Cure & Max Ulis, Egyptrixx @ Lotus
A dream lineup for fans of Canada’s next wave of progressive, experimental electronic music, this night is bound to test the limits of the low end of Lotus’ sound system.
Toronto’s Egyptrixx has been getting noticed over the past couple years with his “celestial club” music, earning him spots creating podcasts and mixes for Fabric, BBC Radio 1 and XLR8R. After an excellent string of EPs of bass-heavy, dubsteppy jams, his anticipated debut album will be out early 2011 on Night Slugs. His performances incorporate Live PA elements, with songs catchy and accessible enough to rock a party, but weird enough to grab your attention and sound truly unique.
Speakerbruiser Rob is actually the man previously known as Sixtoo—the experimental hip-hop Haligonian and former partner of Buck 65. Now he’s doing the electronic music thing, plying his trade as one half of Megasoid, along with Hadji Bakara (formerly of Wolf Parade).
The lineup will be rounded out by some local heroes, with Lighta! Sound affiliates Max Ulis, Self Evident and DJ Cure—Lighta! and DJ Cure have been the subject of recent features in Discorder, focusing on their roles in the local dubstep scene.
Fine Mist, Piper Davis @ the Metropole
Armed with nothing but an iPod and a keyboard, Fine Mist has been building up a substantial fan base over the past year and a bit. It seems like every telephone pole I pass is plastered with upcoming shows featuring our local synth-pop darlings, and they are worth seeing every time. Sure to warm up the crowd is performer Piper Davis, who consistently impresses audiences with her sassy, moody electo-blues.
Slam Dunk @ the Bourbon
Curious as to why we put the awesome Victoria garage party band on the cover of our magazine? This is your chance to find out.
Myths, Cosmetics, Dbl Dragon (DJs: Winnie Cooper) @ Brandiz
This show could have happened pretty much any weekend for No More Strangers, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the best lineups during Olio. Myths and Cosmetics are well paired as bands who make screamy scary dance music and cold impersonal dance music respectively. It’s not your average booty shakers, but if you want to feel weird, but also dance this is a good fit. If you visit Dbl Dragon’s MySpace you’ll find an accomplished pop band, who have been honing their skills playing a lot of shows in the last six months.
Chad Van Gaalen, Ghostkeeper, Babe Rainbow, Dave Shumka, Graham Clark (DJ: Sincerely Hana, Visuals: Ben Jacques) @ Rickshaw
If you’re interested in checking out some out-of-town talent this show is one of your best bets. Chad Van Gaalen hasn’t built a reputation as one of Canada’s most talented musicians by calling in his live performances. Though he usually plays solo you’ll be blown away by the wall of sound he hits his audience with from the stage. His labelmates Ghostkeeper will be opening and they fall somewhere between a folk band and a blues band—a good fit for Mr. Van Gaalen. If you’ve seen Van Gaalen’s visual design you’ll understand why local animator Ben Jacques was picked to provide visuals for the night when you get there. Slightly less fitting, but no less appealing is Babe Rainbow’s opening slot and Sincerely Hana DJing, but we love them, so though we don’t think their style is perfectly suited here, we still think you’ll like hearing it. Show up extra early for some comedy from Graham Clark and Dave Shumka.
White Lung, Nü Sensae, Joyce Collingwood, Juvie @ Astoria
If you’re craving something a little harder than the other things we’ve recommended than this show headlined by the ex-Emergency Room regulars White Lung is probably your best bet. Their long anticipated album It’s the Evil finally was released this summer and this is a good chance to catch them live after familiarizing yourself with their record. Former tourmates and the loudest punk duo in town Nü Sensae will be opening with material from their dark, but excellent record TV, Death and the Devil. Show up early and get the opportunity to see some of the younger punk bands in town Joyce Collingwood and Juvie open.
Styrofoam Ones, Times Neue Roman, Humans, Alonzo Wang @ Cobalt
This is a great line-up—four diverse acts with different styles, but they make sense sharing a stage and they fit together perfectly.
Times Neue Roman is a duo from Toronto who make me wish that more Canadian hip hop sounded like this—smart, fresh and inventive. Alonzo Wang has more than just a fantastic name—he’s got a vocoder, synths, beats, a soulful croon and some great tunes. The darkly-hued dance pop of Toronto’s Styrofoam Ones should also be a great complement to the Friday night party.
Humans, the vocals, guitar, synth and sampler combo of Peter Ricq and Robbie Slade, have only been playing shows for a little over a year now, and they’ve been consistently filling dancefloors and converting new fans with each show. Their insanely catchy songs combine elements of electro, pop, rock, reggae and funk, making for a pretty unique sound—it pretty much just sounds like a party.
The Good News, Analog Bell Service, Lakefield, Flakjakt @ China Cloud
The Good News, Analog Bell Service, Lakefield and Flakjakt are all solidly entertaining local acts. If you’ve never seen Analog Bell Service live, now is the time to change that once and for all. These guys ooze talent and will have you ripping up the dance floor in a matter of seconds. I’ve never seen anyone play an upright bass with such reckless abandon as local comedian/bass player/bartender Colin Cowan. Come by the China Cloud at 10:30 to get your fill of finely crafted indie pop.
Manhussy presents: Revenge of the Chinese Buffet @ Kentizen Fusion Lounge
Manhussy’s Cameron MacLeod, comedy curator of the Olio Festival, hosts the Revenge of the Chinese Buffet. For anyone who didn’t make it to the inaugural Chinese Buffet last December, get ready for an incredibly bizarre night of standup, sketch comedy and all you can eat Chinese food. Keep your eyes on the lovely and hilarious Alicia Tobin and Bita Joudaki, and expect to see partial male nudity from the boys of Manhussy and Bronx Cheer. Get there early if you don’t want to sit on the floor. Wristbands will not get you in for free, but will give you a discount off the door price. [ed. Before you passholders complain about paying remember they do need to cover the cost of all that Chinese food you’re going to eat.]
Hard Drugs @ the Railway
Husband and wife duo Jeffry Lee (formerly of Blood Meridian) and Jenni Nelson are the driving force behind the alt-folk band Hard Drugs. What was originally a side project started as a way to collaborate with their many musician friends has since turned into an acclaimed act with chapters in Vancouver and Brooklyn. Think Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen, with a touch of country twang, a scruffier garage sound and the addition of lovely female vocals. Listen for “She’s Hot, I’m Married.”
Sunday Service @ the Hennessy
The Sunday Service is a weekly improv and sketch comedy night at Hennessey Dining Lounge on Broadway that’s been put on by local funnymen Taz Vanrassel, Ryan Beil and Kevin Lee (plus sometimes additional guests, such as their featured members Aaron Read and Emmett Hall) for the past couple years.
Beil, a UBC Theatre product, is probably the most recognizable face in the troupe. He’s coming off a big year with a Jessie Award (plus two more nominations) for his acting in local theatre productions. But since you always sit on the couch watching TV instead of going out to see some theatre, you know him best as the skinny wiseacre employee in those great A&W ads.
Though they may not have moved as many Papa Burgers as Beil, the other Servicemen are equally talented performers—their shows are fast-paced, sometimes acerbic, sometimes ridiculous and always very funny.
Even if you can’t make their Olio performance you can enjoy dinner, drinks, and more than a few hearty LOLs with the Sunday Service at Hennessey every (wait for it…) Sunday.