Monday, July 14, 2008

Fuck the Stampede

Fuck the Stampede
Rock Show gives out more free stuff than the Stampede Parade
July 12, 2008

Fuck the Stampede featuring: Hazard Lights / The Sub-Linguals / The Pine Tarts
@ Broken City JULY 11, 2008

The Calgary Stampede is not what it once was; the celebration of Western culture, cowboy music singalongs, and horseback riding. Now, on the complete flipside it is all about getting completely wasted for 10 days, seeing how short of a denim skirt you can get away with on the midway rides, and getting your wedding ring tan airbrushed away. Since there are many of us in this city who choose not to partake in the free-for-all of the Stampede, Broken City Social Club and Bar decided to run an anti-Stampede evening.
Now in its second year of celebration, what better way to say f*** you to the Stampede, than to skip the fairgrounds and hang out with some of Calgary’s homegrown garage rock bands? Hazard Lights, The Sub-Linguals, and The Pine Tarts all shared the spotlight of this Wrangler-deficient evening.

Hazard Lights, a 3-man garage/punk rock line-up took the stage first. They were anything but cowpokes in their skin-tight red pants and David Cassidy hair. They began their set with some catchy noisy tunes that are over as quick as they started. Hazard Lights plays typically fun punk rock but I think they have a couple years to go before their set becomes technically solid. They are already booked for this summer’s Wild Weekend Garage Rock Festival in Austin, Texas which isn’t too bad for three young guys from Calgary. My only criticism is yes, everyone loves a good punk rock cover but it is original material that sticks with fans. The Hazard Lights, essentially, just need to put out a record quick to sustain this popularity they have reached in Calgary right now.

The Sub-Linguals climbed the stage next; a noisy four piece featuring Calgary’s long past favourite El Camino’s frontman Johnny Torpedo, a.k.a. local outsider artist Kamil Krulis. Revival is what is all about with The Sub-Linguals. A solitary green light bulb hangs from a cord in the middle of the stage, everything else complete darkness. Johnny Torpedo takes to the stage with a black leather cape, smeared red lipstick, and loud and rough vocals. Meanwhile, maniac Ace-Tone organist Ryan Sadler pounds the keys wildly, while the rhythm sectioned backed by drummer Eric Sadler and garage rock-veteran Pete Roe plays bass. They don’t waste anytime delving right into the hard-core rock outs; with the green light swinging and Johnny Torpedo screaming into the mic, the whole crowd gets into it. A mix of 1970’s punk rock, 1960’s garage rock, and a little 1980’s powerpop thrown in there, The Sub-Linguals come up fairly triumphant for doing something new in music in Calgary. They finish their set with the organist lunging into the crowd, Ace-Tone in tow, glasses flying off, only to be rewarded with admirable support of their fans. Each person leans in to help keep the Ace-Tone supported off the ground, as Sadler still pounds away on it, while another reaches for his glasses and tucks them away safely.

Powerpopping sweethearts, The Pine Tarts finished up the evening with the most hype of all. Green tinsel wrapped around mic stands and later thrown to the crowd brought back memories of a previous Pine Tarts show which involved Ring-Pops for the whole bar. Most songs are fronted by Jesse Powell, the perpetually shirtless guitar player, but when keyboardist Laurie Fuhr took over vocals for one song it gave the set a completely different feel. Her sweet-as-pie vocals combined with the mellowness that overcomes both the stage and the audience, prove The Pine Tarts to be truly versatile musicians. Of course, they had to disturb that peaceful moment by tossing an ex-girlfriends old Casio keyboard to the crowd for destruction. After the keys were significantly destroyed to the approval of Powell, they continued their set with several other rock’n’roll melodies. To keep up with the theme of throwing stuff to the audience they also passed out several free copies of their lime-green 7” vinyl record. I left before the end of their set, but heard it went out like a bang.

Looking back on the rockstar-antic-filled evening, one can be wholly satisfied in saying that they did not have to deal with drunk yahoos during the evening, their sandle-d feet were not crushed by any cowboy boots, and their hunger for non-Nashville North tunes was fulfilled.
9/10 Bonus marks for free goods.

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