Rifflandia! part three.

Dave's coverage of Rifflandia continues!

Saturday, September 25th:  Sugar Nightclub

The Shlesbian and Moon Rock decided they wanted to go to a different show, down at Philip's brewery - a collection or more hip-hop style bands.  I believe my exact comment was "there is no way I'm going to watch a bunch of people rapping about stupid crap when there are Dodos to be seen".  You may recall a few weeks ago, when I wrote a long post about just how awesome the Dodos are.

The problem was, the descriptions of all the other bands playing that night sounded atrocious.  Bloody Wilma was described as a "bass and drum duo" playing heavy music (ugh).  The Globes were a psychedelic indie rock group.  And Hollerado had this very annoying blurb that made them sound like the worst of the worst... although the Shlesbian assured me that they were good.  But that's not always an endorsement - the Shlesbian and I do not always agree when it comes to music. 

But I was ready to endure three hours of crappy bands.  The Dodos were at stake.  Hell, to be honest, I was ready to endure six hours of crappy music for the Dodos.  I would sit through a two hour show by Green Day to see the Dodos - that's how dead set I was on seeing them.  I did, however, decide to skip the opening act, Bells and Cannons.  I have no idea if they were good or not, though considering how the rest of the night turned out, I'm now regretting it.

You see, this night was the best concert I've ever been to.  And I've seen Robert Plant.

Bloody Wilma:  I came into the nightclub while these guys were about mid-act.  When I first walked in, I was sure it was just the canned music they play in between acts.  I remember thinking "geez, this music is pretty groove-heavy for filler music....".  Turns out, I was completely wrong. 

Imagine stoner rock in the style of Om, only with less chanting and faster beats, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what these guys sound like - and I have to make comparisons because these guys seem to have absolutely no music whatsoever on the internets.  Apparently, stoner rock isn't all that popular in Victoria, which is where these guys predominately play - and I find this very odd.  After all, we have plenty of stoners.  And an island is just an oversized rock.  Therefore...

The funny thing was, everyone was surprised at just how awesome these guys were.  Nobody expects a bassist/drummer combo playing a variant of hard rock in the vein of bands like Kyuss or Black Sabbath to really do well in a music festival aimed at the indie crowd.  "Metal and Indie, and nary the twain shall meet" - and yet, everyone was nodding their heads, dancing, and buying albums. 

I staked out a chair and watched the band while drinking five dollar rye and gingers.  I was completely bemused by the fact that these guys were playing stoner rock - one of my absolute favourite genres of music, due to the importance of the rhythm section to set the tone and "groove" of the song.  And I was bemused by the fact that everyone was loving it. 

My musical doppleganger

The Globes:  I moved to the front of the masses, stage left, while this band was setting up - and I would stay there for the rest of the night.   While the band was setting up (Mother Mother was the canned music, FYI), I realized the guitarist looked rather similar to me... and he was playing my dream guitar.  A gibson double cutaway,  2 volume controls and 2 tone controls,  and less flashy hardware - it was even the right colour!  I talked to this guy about how awesome his guitar was while he installed pedal after pedal, and it turned out that he knew very little about his guitar and just how awesome it was.  This bugged me, but hey, to each their own, right? 

And then the band started.   They were not bad, but they were not awesome.  I refer to them as the low point of the night, but the fact is, they were still one of the better bands I had seen in the festival.  Their music was fairly upbeat rock, with some neat guitar and drum lines.  Unfortunately, they had two factors that were working against them.

First, they were a bunch of band geeks in appearance.  Now, image isn't everything.  In fact, I'd say that most indie rock bands are a bunch of geeks in appearance.  But there's a difference between a geeky band like, say, Weezer, and a geeky band like, say.... wait, I can't think of a successful band that is composed entirely of geeks that look like geeks.  Take a lesson from that if you will.  I won't lampoon the individual ways each member looked like a band geek, because it's really throwing stones in a glass house, but let's just say that they could use a wardrobe change.

Second, and more importantly, they used far too many effects pedals.  As in, one of the guitarists (the "Dave Doppleganger") was always using his feet to tap a pedal - every few seconds.  This meant that he didn't move while he played.  And bands that don't move are, generally, really boring live. 

This is made worse by the fact that their songs were great - but the fact that only the bassist was really moving meant that most of the songs were poorly presented.

Okay, all those negatives out of the way, let me point out the good things - they had a great rapport with their audience, they recovered well from those slip-ups that inevitably happen during a show (I think the bassist and the lead guitarist actually crashed into each other at one point - and they made it look awesome), and - most importantly - their music is well-crafted.  If they came back to Victoria, odds are pretty good I'd catch them again... if only to see my dream guitar again. 

Hollerado:  Here's what I remember of this band:

1.  They came on the stage.
2.  They played amazingly awesome old-school style rock and roll music that was modernized and distilled into pure awesome.
3.  They left the stage, and - much like the aftermath of an alien abduction - I found myself missing about an hour of time.   

Seriously.  The crowd was going absolutely retarded (At a stage five, "I am Sam" level on the retard scale), and I was blown away.  I remember thinking to myself "oh, crap, now I have to buy their record, and I just can't afford it".  Luckily, after the show, the lead singer told me it was on sale on iTunes. This is pure awesomesauce in my book (because, while I don't talk about it much here, a reduced Carbon footprint is a good thing). 

I also told him he was the best band I'd seen play all weekend, and that they were one of the best bands I'd ever seen play live.  He grinned, thanked me, and I realized he was used to hearing that after every show - and with good reason. 

As an aside - you can see my arms in the Rifflandia gallery for the Hollerados.  That's me, stage left.  My arms are crossed not because I'm bored or anything, but because I was catching my breath after so much jumping and craziness... plus, I think they were playing a slower song.  And yes, they were constantly in motion, even when playing slower songs. 

Another thing - after this band had stopped playing, I was actually worried.  Because I was sure there was no way in hell The Dodos were going to be able to beat that pure level of energy. 

My bad.

The Dodos:  Okay, the problem with talking about three or four bands per post is that you have to cut stuff out in an effort to reduce your post size to something even remotely manageable.  I mean, these rifflandia posts are HUGE, and I'm barely scratching the surface. 

The thing is, I could fill three or four blog posts with nothing but info on the Dodos and how amazing they are live.  Seriously, I could gush about their music for a month. 

Here's the basics:  you have three band members.  One plays guitar and sings.  One plays the drums.  And one plays a gigantic xylophone and a few drum snares and whatnot. 

In case you don't know, I'm a huge fan of the drums and percussion in general, so any band that has more percussion players than guitarists is all aces in my book.  But it gets even cooler, as the drummer doesn't use a bass drum.  Or a high hat.  Or, really, a snare drum.  He has a tamborine taped to his feet. Most of his drumming consists of using the toms and the rims of his drums.  He plays the drums in a way I've never seen before - it's almost as if he's playing an entirely new instrument. 

During the whole show, the crowd was banging against the rail that divides the band from us, the unwashed masses.  People were screaming in sheer joy.  Clapping along to the music.  Even singing along - I sang at the top of my lungs during "Fools".  When a string broke on the guitar, the drummer did some amazing drum work to keep the crowd occupied.  And when a second string broke, the band had to call it a night - only to hear the crowd chant "one more song" for at least five minutes.

They came back on stage with a borrowed electric guitar (I think it belonged to the lead guitarist from The Globes) and went through an electric version of Jodi that drove the crowd into absolute craziness.  I remember at one point thrashing against the rail, looking across the crowd, and seeing this girl at far stage left.  She looked at me, smiled, and it was like I knew exactly what she was thinking - "holy crap, can you believe we're here, seeing this?". 

When the band left the stage for the final time, I got my jacket from coat check, and stepped out into the night.  It was 1:30 am, and there was a downpour.  I walked home, got drenched, all the while listening to The Dodos on my iPod.  I barely noticed the rain. 

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