Bowling from the Waste

By Chris Yee [Student Affairs Bureau Chief]

As you may have heard, Music Waste was during the first week of June. You might have also heard that it’s been 16 years since the first event titled “Music Waste” took place; the name was an anti-corporate play off the music industry showcase New Music West. Music Waste is now a showcase of the best of Vancouver music, art, and comedy.

Most shows were $5, and for $15, you could buy a full, all-access festival pass.

Of course, I can’t really tell you about the whole festival firsthand, since I picked just one day to go: the last day, Sunday June 6. That day, there was an afternoon show at the Grandview Lanes bowling alley at Sixth Street and Commercial Drive in Vancouver, all for $10 cover (both for the bands and 3 hours of unlimited bowling, not including shoe rentals).

Bowl Your Own Waste was billed as the send-off to the whole Music Waste festival, along with a barbecue and basketball tournament called Waste Jam. On the Facebook events page, some people were remarking on the similarity of the whole affair to the movie Josie and the Pussycats.

I would’ve commented on the lack of venues in Vancouver, too, but that sort of whining is overdone and underestimates the resourcefulness of the local (underground) music scene. But I digress.

I got to the show early so I played a couple pick-up games of five-pin, making the most of my $10 for cover and 3 hours of unlimited bowling (not including shoe rentals).
A crowd gathered to hear the sweet, wry, and cuddly Chris-A-Riffic opened the musical component of the whole shindig. Singing his sweet, wry, and cuddly songs about relationships, friends and bowling, He read the lyrics from his omnipresent Moleskine while playing accompaniments on his keyboard, as the crowd clapped along. Just as I’ve said – sweet, wry and cuddly, just like Chris-A-Riffic himself.

Next up was Role Mach, whose sound checks and pre-set jamming I had nearly confused for their actual songs. In all fairness, Role Mach trade in glorious, genre-bending sounds, and this set was no exception. Role Mach shifted from surfy licks to Morricone to punk jazz (à la James Chance and the Contortions, sort of) to straightforward indie rock and back again, often in the same song.

Apparently, at one time their line-up was just as mercurial, but this time it appeared to be a six-piece (guitar, bass, drums and a three-piece horn section with sax, trumpet and clarinet). The guitarist and the clarinettist did double duty on the vocals, which grew chantier and chantier until Patrick became noticeably entranced after their set. At any rate, Role Mach were top-notch – I found myself underwhelmed by the band which played after Role Mach’s set, Cat Attack, who I must admit played a pretty solid set of gristly lo-fi themselves.

After Cat Attack wrapped up their set, the Apollo Ghosts came forth.  I could say the Apollo Ghosts deal in “pop punk”, but they have more in common with the Modern Lovers and their ilk than Green Day and their ilk. The band’s leader, Adrian Teacher, while covering the Vaselines’ “Molly’s Lips,” dashed off to who-knows-where and back. The event page billed them as the “anchor of the show” – and how! With boundless energy and joy, the Ghosts ripped through their four-song set, sing-alongs and all. Excellent stuff – not surprisingly, these guys are quite well liked in the local scene. I’m bound to agree.

Finally, the show closed off with synth-punks Twin Crystals, who terrorized everyone’s ears with horrific distorted waveforms from their early 1980s vintage Radio Shack Realistic Concertmate analog synthesizer. Oh, there were guitars and vocals too, but the intense, harsh synth lines stood out (perhaps too much). Luckily, I brought earplugs this time.

With that, the bowling alley closed promptly and people filed out. I went home satisfied and pleasantly surprised at my lack of post-show tinnitus.

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