Friday, April 23, 2004

Drift, Saturday, April 17 at the Ridge
The theatre was about 2/3 full, and the atmosphere was strange. Were we here for a concert? Were we here for a film? Two 16-mm projectors and a sound board were set up in the middle of the theatre. A chair, a guitar and an amplifier sat on stage left. Lee Ranaldo came up, sat down, and shuffled papers around for a minute or two. He fiddled with a box to his right and got some ambient sounds going. Two images appeared side by side on the screen behind him—leaves in sunlight. The pictures changed like slides at various rates on each side. I could hear the projectors go tick…tick…tick, tick-tick-tick, tickticktick as their speed altered. They provided the beat, audibly and visually.

Lee picked up his guitar (Fender Mustang or equivalent) and added to the soundscape. It had a very Sonic tuning, and little fragments of SY songs came into my head at times (isn’t that “Teenage Riot”?). He leaned it into the amp, scraped the headstock along the floor, tapped it with a drumstick, and (this was cool) spun the tremolo arm around so that it sounded like a single empty train car going past. On the screen, an antique doll came apart and reassembled itself, while a firework pinwheel spun forwards and backwards sending out, then sucking in, smoke and sparks. At various points, Lee put down his guitar and read some poetry or what sounded like diary entries. The centrepiece of the show was a section about Lee’s impressions of the days after 9/11 as a citizen of NYC. It went from worrying about the air quality, to a bike ride through surreal Manhattan streets, and finally to finding, near the WTC site, several piles of office workers’ shoes on the sidewalk. It was one of those rare 9/11 pieces that did not suck.

“Drift” was a suitable name for this show. All the elements flowed without interruption for 70 minutes or so. I’m sure the show changes a lot from night to night, with different “happy accidents” that only the performers would be aware of during each performance. I think describing it like I’ve tried to here doesn’t really capture Drift’s more ephemeral qualities. Maybe if I got to see it again…

Saturday, April 10, 2004

I had a good chat with Henrik, guitarist for Evergrey, yesterday for the next Unrestrained! mag. I still don't think I'm the most scintillating interviewer yet, but I felt pretty good about the whole thing. So far I've lucked out by talking to people who know how the game works and who are well used to talking to inarticulate metal geeks. You can just steer them around to a general topic, and away they go. Of course I have higher goals as an interviewer than that, but I'll take whatever works for now.

The new Evergrey album, The Inner Circle, is really strong. I took the promo disk to work and after half a dozen listens or so, it grew on me quite a bit. The songs are catchy yet complex, and don't adhere to the Dream Theater/Helloween template that kills most prog-metal dead for me. For a concept album it's well-executed. It has a good flow and seems to be split into two halves like albums of yore...and it's a relatively restrained 48 minutes long. It's also very dark and Euro-melodramatic, with samples of different voices popping up at various points to bolster the storyline. There's a good balance of elements, and it's obvious they put a lot of hard work into it. I respect that it took me a few tries to get into, and that it's not the easiest pill to swallow. A concept album about religious cults and infanticide shouldn't be an effortlessly digestable confection.
This morning I overheard Fancy and Cypress talking about music. Cypress claimed that the Swiffer song is one of the catchiest songs ever. We need some Devo in this house, but I'm afraid it's too late. "She's deliberately trying to make me feel a thousand years old," says Fancy.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

No Limit Cat Burn With Fruit
part thumb at taste science though edge knowledge only left kiss he through then number broken tail almost name roll

I'm getting this sort of magnetic poetry/Melvins lyrics-style spam these days. It would be cool if it wasn't so evil and annoying.

shoe belief machine degree natural neck right cheap blow small tail bridge book for with doubt potato quiet rest position nerve not almost kiss kick organization wing female angry violent jump sneeze advertisement twist jump no limit cat burn with fruit humorice milk system see tree bright harbor other detail judge normal snake

Empire Games
On a side trip this morning to Benwell-Atkins, I walked down Glen Street past the VCC King Edward Campus. There's a little historical plaque at Glen and 8th that I've never noticed before. It pays homage to the Empire Oval, the velodrome built for the 1954 British Empire Games and demolished in 1980 to make way for the college.

The plaque features a tranquil and mysterious B&W photo of the empty racetrack, with its banked corners shining in the sunlight. I remember driving by it as a kid, but I never saw it up close. The velodrome was clearly a beautiful thing and I'm sure a lot of people were sad to see it join the other obsolete and dismantled sports facilities that litter this city.

I have the feeling that British Empire Games defined Vancouver in a way that Expo didn't and that the 2010 Olympics won't. Everybody knows about Landy and Bannister, but the games must have generated a lot of other compelling stories. Perhaps ACM can point me to the appropriate resources.

Other than stories, is there anything left of the 1954 Games? I think Empire Games Pool is still a going concern. There's the Miracle Mile Statue on the PNE grounds near Empire Stadium, which itself is long gone, bulldozed and trucked to the landfills like most of Vancouver's history.

And I guess the British Empire became the less Imperialist-sounding British Commonwealth. The task of modern-day empire building, as we're seeing, has been taken on by a bunch of amateurs.