The Pop Alliance Appreciation Party wasn’t the first Friday night I found myself at Red Gate — but it was certainly among the most memorable. The event celebrated the success of the Pop Alliance compilations: periodical LPs of local bops, curated by the hosts, Mint Records and CiTR / Discorder. Though the crowd was meager as the sets began, I held out hope for the event and as a pop music fiend with a flourishing admiration for the Vancouver music scene, I’m glad I did.
Aaron Read opened the evening with an acoustic guitar and a wickedly self-deprecating sense of humour. Though his songs were carefully crafted, his nervous banter with the crowd revealed that he was more comfortable in his role as a stand-up comedian. Crooning lyrics like “You light a cigarette / Literally killing time,” Read demonstrated his attentive balance between somber subjects and cheeky delivery.
The mood picked up with synth-wave extraordinaire, Kellarissa. Like a pendulum swung between atmospheric electro-opera and pulsating dance beats, her expansive sound was a departure from Read’s humble set. The textured soundscapes created from her layered vocals crashed in waves around the room. Although the crowd was still sparse, one couple danced along animatedly. The audience curiously looked on, as if Kellarissa had beamed down a few aliens from her midi-board mothership.
Continuing the down the synth stream, Shitlord Fuckerman took the stage. The absolute absurdity of the set captivated the audience from start to finish. When not commandeering the glitch-pop, Fuckerman danced chaotically through the audience in a spacesuit and rubber mask. Between the haunted-house-meets-Nintendo tracks, Fuckerman constantly engaged the audience, muttering queries like “Has anyone seen Matrix Reloaded?” In some bizarre sort of social experiment, Fuckerman demanded that everyone lay down and wave their arms and legs in the air. The crowd complied unquestioningly, while Fuckerman darted through the forest of limbs. When the set ended, the audience seemed slightly shocked, but amused nonetheless.
Departing from the electronic realm, the party continued with Swim Team. The three-piece art-punk group was a crowd favourite; the now full dance floor thrashed around under the lazy disco ball. Swim Team’s potent mix of urgent melodies, surf-rock bass lines and dynamic guitar hooks proved a strong finish for the evening. When their set ended around 1 AM, the sweaty crowd lingered in the violet shadows before descending upon Main Street.
Despite impending November gloom, the Pop Alliance Appreciation Party managed to create the atmosphere of a small music festival while maintaining the intimacy of a private party. After each set, the various artists joined the audience to mingle with old friends and new fans. Like the compilations they had so carefully curated, Mint Records and CiTR / Discorder’s event was an unadulterated celebration of local pop music.