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Less Than Jake announce their across Canada tour


Fat Wreck Chords recording artists Less Than Jake announce their across Canada tour

Less Than Jake - Warped Tour 2014 - July 5th- Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Less Than Jake – Warped Tour 2014 – July 5th- Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Less Than Jake announce their across Canada tour !

Less Than Jake’s bass player Roger Lima says “America’s hat is a great place to eat some poutine” and with that sentence you know that LTJ is looking for a good time on the run of headline shows across Canada this October.

Less Than Jake return to the great white north for their first Canadian tour in 4 year in support of their latest release on Fat Wreck Chords See The Light .

While some other bands of a certain vintage are latching onto musical trends, you won’t find any dubstep beats or vocoder distortion on See The Light–a title that nods to the band’s history of marrying dark lyrical content (the tunnel) to bouncy musical arrangements (the light at the end). Less Than Jake aren’t turning away from their roots, and echoing Mark Twain, Fiorello points out that the rumors regarding their genre’s demise are greatly exaggerated: “Punk has been declared dead every year for 30+ years and it’s still going stronger than ever. People like to declare things dead just because it’s dead to them, but if bands are passionate about what they’re doing, they’ll attract fans who are passionate.”

Do The Math is the title track from See The Light and the a-side of a 7″that was released in June. The b-side is a previously unreleased original titled “Connect the Dots “from their See The Light recording sessions. Read what drummer Vinnie Fiorello had to say about this single below:

“The song is an important one to everyone in the band, it encapsulates being through ups and downs in life- not only remembering who was there for you but also who is still around. The notion that you have to carry this heavy weight around on your shoulders becomes null and void when you realize the people, places, and things that matter the most in your life.”

The new “Do The Math” video is as much fun as the band.

This tour begins hot off the heels after hitting a giant milestone for the band as this summer Less Than Jake celebrated their 365th Warped Tour date.

Make sure to catch Less Than Jake on tour across Canada this fall with special guests Big D And The Kids Table and The Interrupters !


Tour dates :

October 9th – Vancouver – Nightclub

October 10th – Calgary – Republik

October 11th – Edmonton – The Starlite Room

October 12th – Saskatoon – Louis’ Pub

October 14th – Winnipeg – Pyramid Cabaret

October 16th- Thunder Bay – Crocks

October 18th – Toronto – The Opera House

October 19th – London – London Music Hall

October 22 – Ottawa – Ritual Night Club

October 23 – Montreal – Club Soda

For more information or to book an interview please contact:

Lions in Ottawa

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Living With Lions


For the past seven years, Living With Lions has been cementing their place as a Canadian pop-punk institution.

The four piece Vancouver band have worked like dogs, playing shows throughout Canada and beyond to quench their thirst for travel and the need for being heard. Chase Brenneman, Landon Matz, Bill Crook and Loren Legare have seen it all. Through trial and tribulation the four men have become brothers in arms.

Since 2006, they have been keeping fans charmed through unabashed, crass pop-punk tunes, a merry-go-round of vocalists and a bad joke that led to a small national incident.

Controversy and a Middle Finger: Holy Shit

Keeping in the key of humor, the boys proved their adolescent jocularity in May 2011 when they released their sophomore record Holy Shit. The album is a story in itself. For those who don’t know or haven’t heard I will briefly recap.

Young boys make poop jokes. All of them do! Especially the ones in punk bands… However most of those jokes do not make it past three-holed binder paper and grade school lockers, and never do they find themselves on an international stage.

The cover art for the album is a leathery brown surface with the words “Holy Shit” depicted as a gold leaf impression, meant to be a satirical take on the cover of the Holy Bible. As if that wasn’t offensive enough, a few liner notes referring to the “Poo Testament” and a depiction of Jesus as a turd await the average listener underneath the cellophane wrapping.

lwl2Living With Lions immediately started getting serious backlash from religious groups and even American media. The Harper government and specifically the then minister of Canadian heritage, James Moore went on a lion hunt that would make Michael Douglass and Val Kilmer proud- they were in that movie in ’96 The Ghost and the Darkness about the lion hunters, remember? FACTOR (Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings) funded $13,258.00 towards the production of the album. As demanded, the band returned the money and re-released the album without the FACTOR logo. To gain support they launched a major Kickstarter campaign and surpassed their fundraising goal in no time. With the extra money raised Living With Lions made a donation to the National Portrait Gallery, another victim of James Moore and his funding cuts, in the name of the minister himself. Punk rock.

“It was a fuckin’… it was a pretty stupid joke, that obviously was taken the wrong way and, you know, at the end of the day were going to do whatever the fuck we want to do, as cliche as that sounds. We really don’t give a shit about what’s going to happen to us or what people think, you know what I mean? So, in that regard it has not fucking changed our ideology one bit.” – Brenneman said.

Some Of My Friends Appear Dead To Me

Aside from political controversies, Living With Lion’s have had a revolving door for vocalists since the band’s inception. The debut EP Dude Manor was recorded in 2006 with the former vocalist of Vancouver happy-hardcore group Daggermouth, Stu McKillop. One full-length album and a few years later the band started preparation for Holy Shit. Stu Ross of Misery Signals recorded vocals on the controversial album taking over for the vocalist who recorded Make Your Mark, Matt Postal. Ross went on to play guitar in Winnipeg punk band Comeback Kid. Postal rejoined for a brief stint and then guitarist and adjunct frontman Chase Brenneman took over all vocal parts for their latest EP.

Some Of My Friends Appear Dead To Me was released on July 9th, 2013 as a follow up to the vexed Holy Shit. Fans curious about the new sound eagerly awaited the three-song EP and were happy with what they heard. The tone is reminiscent of golden era pop-punk, superficially comparable to the bass heavy pop-punk riffs of Blink-182, Crook poignant bass lines combined with the powerful punk chords and familiar guitar melodies Living With Lions and guitarist Matz are best known for. Drums wailing to the beat of perfection, Legare takes a simple yet creatively brilliant approach to playing for the genre. Brenneman’s new voice of the band sinks into the instrumental parts and adds a different, more practiced sound to their arsenal. This quick glimpse into a revamped Living With Lions leaves the imagination wandering on possibilities for the full-length.


Lions in Ottawa

As the weather started to turn brittle and unforgiving, The Truffle Shuffle Tour rolled into town on November 7th, 2013. A compilation of international pop-punk bands, the tour included Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! all the way from France, Albany new wave pop-punkers State Champs and of course Canadian pop-punk heroes, Living With Lions. Hamilton hardcore sensation Counterparts, fresh off of their Canadian tour with Terror, joined the bands when they crossed over the American border.

Mavericks played home to a pop-punk onslaught, with local openers Remember the Fire and We Were Sharks; the show brought out fans of all ages and lifestyles. Younger pop-punk fans moshed and crowded the front of the stage while experienced audience members lined the walls around the venue like a roll of tattoo patterned wallpaper.

Living With Lions was the first of the tour package to play for Ottawa and they reminded us all why we fell in love with the genre- by we I am speaking for the older fans aforementioned as wallpaper. I’m sure the littluns appreciated it just as well, but the band has stepped away from a dedicated in-your-face frontman, to a lead vocalist behind a guitar and microphone stand more focused on musical integrity than mic sharing with the crowd. They played a set of mostly songs from Holy Shit and SOMFADTM, capping off the performance with Regret Song; a personal favourite, I let my composure go for the three minutes it took to sing along with my friends.

They were followed by Pure Noise Record label mates in State Champs who offered an energetic, younger take on the pop-punk sound. The audience was chomping at the opportunity to have vocalist Tyler Szalkowski grace them with his microphone.

Momentum building still, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! bounced into a dark stage and cheering crowd after a hilarious recorded introduction of a ditzy girl switching from announcing the band to an f-bomb laced princess rant. The five Frenchmen played to an audience desperate for their happy-hardcore sound. The kids loved jumping along and moshing to the poppy songs ridden with bass drops every few bars. The band have definitely found their demographic.

After Living With Lions’ set I caught up with Brenneman and Crook on Rideau Street out front of Mavericks in downtown Ottawa. The boys had more than a few things to say about tour, their genre and what’s coming next.


A Conversation in the Cold

How does playing a show in Ottawa compare to playing a show in Vancouver or elsewhere in Canada?

Brenneman: We’ve always had a really good time here, the shows have always been fun. We’ve been pretty lucky, we’ve met a lot of cool people here over the past two years so we enjoy it. Toronto and Ottawa and Montreal are really fun places to play. We really, really enjoy coming out here, always have a good time.

When did Living With Lions start? What year was it you guys started jamming? 

Brenneman: Around 2006 we kind of started writing songs and put out an EP. Around that time, it was kind of weird it took us awhile to start touring and start doing stuff like that but we’ve been going since then I guess until now, which is probably like 6 or 7 years, 7 years now. Yeah ha ha ha!

The new EP has a different sound than Holy Shit, what would you guys describe that sound as? How did you get there?

Brenneman: Well, I don’t think we were trying to go for a different sound it was just something that we knew was going to happen with changing vocalists. It has always been the same writing process for us. It was always the same people writing the songs and vocals, so it just kind of came out that way, for better or for worse. We’re really proud of that EP, we’re really excited about what we did. Writing songs and just kind of continuing doing it this way, it was something that just kind of happened naturally. We weren’t trying to really sound different at all or anything.

What’s the song writing process like for you guys? 

Brenneman: Usually one of us will come to jam with a song idea and well kind of work on it and pick parts apart. Everybody has input on things and as we work on it songs evolve a lot and change. It has always been a group effort; there’s never really been one songwriter in the band. We really try to work on everything together and I think that’s what makes writing songs really exciting for us, having that spontaneity.

Interesting tour having Living With Lions, Canadian pop-punk, State Champs, American pop-punk and Chunk! No Captain Chunk! all the way from France, what are some of the differences between the genre from different countries?

Crook: I would say it’s definitely different, I wouldn’t even define it by country, I would even say regions. With pop-punk, punk, hardcore, all rock sub genres, it seems like there’s always a west coast thing that’s going on that has maybe a bit of a more throwback side, and then there’s an east coast thing. With a lot of these bands that come from America [different regions have different sounds], there’s like California bands and then there are Florida bands and New York bands. What’s cool is when you’re a band from Europe or maybe Japan or another part of the world, that’s not around you as much. So maybe you’re directly influenced by whatever bands you like, that’s what you get into. On this tour you can definitely tell, for me personally, there is definitely an east coast sound and a west coast sound, and Chunk’s kind of from their own universe which is cool. We also have Counterparts joining us in the states.

How did the Holy Shit incident affect you as a band?

Brenneman: Aside from the time period where it was all unfolding, it hasn’t really affected us that much to be honest. It was really overwhelming at the time and kind of weird. There was a lot of attention and it was definitely something new for us to deal with, and not the kind of attention we necessarily wanted to have but after that period passed and blew over, aside from getting asked about it here and there it hasn’t really affected us that much. It was a fuckin’… it was a pretty stupid joke, that obviously was taken the wrong way and, you know, at the end of the day were going to do whatever the fuck we want to do, as cliche as that sounds. We really don’t give a shit about what’s going to happen to us or what people think, you know what I mean? So, in that regard it has not fucking changed our ideology one bit.

Got any plans for the future? What’s the next step? 

Brenneman: We’re just going to write. We’re working on a record right now so we are going to do that. We are going to go home and hopefully record this winter and then start all over again. Put out another record and hopefully do a lot of tours. Nothing earth shattering or anything but were really excited to get back and write a full-length album again. That kind of stuff is always super exciting, I’m sure for any band to do, so looking forward to that.

You guys just got back from Japan, how was that?

Brenneman: It was awesome; it was awesome. Japan is like pretty overwhelming. We were also in Australia, China, Indonesia, [Singapore], it was like culture shock/so eye opening/what the fuck are we doing here ha ha ha. It was one of the coolest trips I’ve ever done in my life and I think I speak for everybody when I say that. That’s one of those things where its like so fucking lucky we play in a band because we would never ever really get to do anything like that if it wasn’t for having this to use as a vessel to do those kinds of things.

Did you have a good crowd out there? People knew your stuff?

Brenneman: Totally, ya we had no idea too. We just kind of did it for the sake of doing it and it went really well. We went out there with no expectations and we had a really good time, the kids were stoked it was a really fun trip.

Beers, Buds, and Good Times


I acquainted myself with the rest of the band and offered them a roof and some couches for the night. After the show we headed to The Standard Luxury Tavern for a few beers with some old friends.

A somewhat nomadic, “on the road” lifestyle of touring musicians makes it hard to nail down a steady job (or girlfriend) but it connects you with a large network of musicians in similar situations. Sometimes you get together with them for a drink or two when playing a show in someone’s hometown and sometimes you randomly run into them in the midst of a European tour, as the Living With Lions boys reminisced about their encounter with Canadian brethren in Counterparts half the world away.

As we sat around a circular booth at the back of the bar, notable figures in the Ottawa music scene mingled with their friends from out of town. Paul Mascaro, owner of Skoser Merch custom screen-printing is a local businessman and philanthropist. He gives away a large portion of his revenue to charity and he endorses tons of local bands with free clothing and support on tour. The Vancouver boys reacquainted themselves with Michael Ieradi, founding member of The Kindred and most recent drummer in Protest The Hero who played a show earlier on the same night.

Through conversations about unconventional Star Wars trivia and the history and direction of their genre, Living With Lions glued their feet to the ground and came off as modest, war-torn, musicians.

The Standard’s house lights came on and last call was missed. Friends slowly retired with hugs and well wishes; and we parted ways.

The show at Maverick’s was at least their seventh visit to Ottawa in recent years and Living With Lions continues to make new friends and connections obligating them to keep coming back. If you see the weary musicians on the road, in a bar or at the show do not be afraid to offer some kindness and not only will it be appreciated but also reciprocated. Through a relentless drive, humble personalities and a talent for writing punk tunes, Vancouver’s Living With Lions is (and always will be) Canadian pop-punk.

Photos and words by Griffin Elliot


Said The Whale talks taking control and going back to their roots


Vancouver indie rock group, Said The Whale, released their fourth studio album this past September called hawaiii. Guitar and vocalist Tyler Bancroft talked to The Scene Magazine’s Brianna Harris about the no limits writing process and getting back to his roots.


I had the opportunity to talk with Said The Whale’s Tyler Bancroft about the new album, hawaiii.

Your new album, hawaiii has received a lot of great attention and it’s been said to be a lot more experimental than your past albums. What do you think makes it significantly different?

It is kind of a throw back to our roots in a way, which was just me and Ben messing around on our computers at home. And there are a lot of elements of that on this record for sure. It’s definitely our most diverse record. It’s like everything from our loudest rock song to our quietest mellow song and I think it shows what we’re capable of as a band. [When] writing the record, we had no rules, really. Everything just came out naturally.

So there were basically no boundaries for you?

Yeah, we just kind of went for it.

That’s awesome. You’ve also been quoted as saying that you’re much more lyrically honest with hawaiii. You’re touching upon topics that you haven’t before. Why did you decide to do that with this album?

It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just kind of fell out. I don’t really sit down and have a plan for what I’m going to write, it just kind of happens. And it just so happens that it came out that way.

And you were happy with that? Like, it didn’t take you by surprise or make you feel uncomfortable at all?

No, I wasn’t uncomfortable with it. I think it’s a good outlet, personally.

Why did you choose the name hawaiii? Especially since you guys are from Vancouver and you even spiced it up a bit by adding the lower-case “h” and the extra “i”.

Yeah totally, the word itself is just evocative. I think when you see the word or hear the word, you think of something immediately and we thought that the songs were evocative so we wanted to have a title that reflected that. Everyone’s got some sort of association with the word “Hawaii”, whether they think it’s paradise to end all paradises, or whether they think it’s a horrible tourist trap or whatever. I think most people know the word; it’s a familiar word already.

What are you wanting people to take away from this album?

Whatever it is they want to take away from it. I don’t think it’s up to us to dictate what people get from an album or from any song, in particular. The songs that we write we are writing for ourselves, and they have their own meaning to them on a personal level. But I think at the same time, a lot of them have universal topics being covered and so I would hope that they’re being related to, however one wants to relate to them.

Your first single from the album, I Love You, has been your first track to hit the top of Canadian alternative rock charts. What was your reaction to that?

It’s awesome, it’s amazing. We obviously appreciate the support that commercial radio has given us and I think it gets a lot of people out to shows. It’s just funny how much of an impact commercial radio can still have — it’s so irrelevant yet it does bare such a huge influence on the shows you play and on that commercial side of things.

For hawaiii you also stepped into the role of co-producer, right?

Yeah, but that was really just by accident. We didn’t set out for that to be the case. I was kind of just riding shotgun the whole time. And I’m a control freak. So it just kind of came about naturally.

What was that like for you?

It was just same old me, bossing people around. It really didn’t change anything because it wasn’t even really discussed until afterwards.

What has been the most significant change for you as a musician since the beginning of Said The Whale?

I think we’re just better at everything. We’re better at touring, we’re better at song writing, we’re better at recording, and we’re better at playing. I think just an all-around improvement, which is nice and makes me happy. If it wasn’t the case, I think that I’d feel pretty shitty.

What makes the five of you work so well together as a band?

We all get along great and we’re all friends. So that’s pretty important. You can’t really be productive if anyone’s hating each other. That just doesn’t really happen.

What are you most excited about for your current tour?

Well, I was really excited for St. John’s, Newfoundland and that’s already happened. But I think we have something special in every city and we’re also really excited to play all these new songs. Given that it’s such a short record, we’re actually able to play almost all of the record almost every night. We mix in half the set with old material so it’s nice that we can do it all.

Are you going back to Vancouver at all?

Yeah, we play a show in Vancouver at the end of December.

That’s awesome, are you excited for that? Going back to your roots, especially since you said that’s kind of what the album is about?

Yeah totally. Playing in Vancouver is always pretty surreal but at the same time it’s the most pressure of any show because you’ve got all your family and friends there, so it can be a little intimidating at times.

Said the Whale is playing at Ritual in Ottawa on November 13, 2013.

Brianna Harris


The River and The Road Interview – Featuring Andrew Phelan.



Photo by: Landon Sveinson

This past weekend at the Otalith Music Festival in Ucluelet I got to sit down with The River and the Road’s Andrew Phelan who discussed the success of their self-titled debut album, the dynamics of band member personalities and future plans, which include more tour dates and a new record.

So how did you and Keenan meet? I heard you guys met busking in Vancouver?

“Keenan and I met at an open mic in Vancouver and we we’re actually rivals when we first met (laughter). We’d both play comfortable songs and then play a curveball to try and win the crowd over. For like a month we were competing, every time he’d come in I’d be like “that fuckin’ guy”! Then we met and introduced ourselves.  We found out we had both quit our jobs, so we started jamming and a month after we met we moved in together and released the album a few months after that.”

How did you find the other band mates?

“We were ruthless at the start, we just cycled through guys… finally Keenan was like let’s just get my roommate John to learn the bass parts and he knew a drummer (Cole) so we threw them in together… and we we’re like cool, let’s do this for a living.”

Since the release you guys have toured Canada and Australia, what’s the response been like in Australia?

“We’ve had an amazing response, we are going back as soon as we can next year.”

Why do you think so many Canadian bands, especially on the west coast, tour Australia?

“It’s probably a sociological thing: you get a lot of Australians here in BC and the drinking culture is similar. Australian drinking is rife (laughter).”

You and Keenan seem to have very different dynamics in both your style and stage presence, but it seems to compliment each of your musical styles. You guys seem to have a lot of fun on stage, especially with some of the banter.

“Yeah, actually I come under fire from some of the guys for it sometimes (laughter). I forget that I am playing to an audience and sometimes I’ll just start talking… I’ll realize I’ve just been letting my brain spin tape… sometimes it’s good, but I definitely have to crack the whip… Especially because Keenan has such a professional stage presence.”

I think the dynamics between you work really though. I think it’s that difference in personalities that make you guys so enjoyable to watch.

“Actually that’s one of the reasons we’re named The River and The Road… we started saying the name because it sounded cool and they were such beautiful words, but the more we played the more relevant our name became. Keenan has a traditional, earthy style, whereas I tend to have more fluidity and we’re pretty analytical guys, so the more we played with it the more it made sense.”

So what’s next for you guys? Another tour, a new album?

“After this we have a bit a break, then we’re going to Halifax and back in October. We plan on going into pre production for our new album at the end of September. At the moment, roughly 30% of the songs we are playing live are new song and we have another 15 or 20 we don’t want to play yet because we don’t want them to get old… it’s killing me and Keenan not being able to play them.”

Are you guys taking any new approach with this album?

“Me and Keenan recorded the first album just the two of us in a week, so we’ll be more methodical this time around. We are actually working with this guy Jamey Koch from the Warehouse in Vancouver. He heard us busking and came down out of his house, we were playing opposite his place, and he was like “ hey, you guy’s aren’t shit, can I buy an album?” He bought an album and contacted us a week later. Hearing you’re not bad, is so much better than hearing you suck. We hope that throughout the forty-five to an hour set we play every person in the crowd connects with something we do and goes, those guys are cool.”

Otalith Music Festival Review



Day 1, Friday, August 23:

I pulled in to Ucluelet on Friday afternoon around 2pm to rain, dampness, and with the majority of people hiding indoors to avoid the ugly weather. It didn’t help that I had spent the previous three days in Tofino, soaking in the beautiful weather and beaches.

This is the first time Ucluelet has held such a festival, and with acts like Yukon Blonde, the Cave Singers, White Buffalo and Current Swell lined up, the potential — at least musically — seemed grand, I hoped the weather wouldn’t spoil what looked to be a great weekend. Nonetheless, I wandered down to the festival sometime around 4pm, and just as I had expected, the grounds were scarce.

The Archers

At first glance, the festival mimicked the sight of a small town fair: a couple of food stands, a small merchandise tent, a decent size beer garden and other small amenities that usually follow any outdoor event. As it came closer to the opening bands taking the stage, the rain began to cease its downpour and it looked as though it may clear up.

The first couple bands to take the stage, The Poor Pistols and The Archers, were good, but they may as well have been playing for themselves, as there was hardly a crowd at the base of the stage. Regardless, they both put on good performances despite the unfortunate circumstances.

Next up was Northcote, a local band from Victoria B.C., who seemed to attract a few more people, but the rain started again and most people attempted to hide out in the beer garden, listening to the music from a distance. But as the night progressed, and the rain once again stopped, more people came out. By the time Kathryn Calder hit the stage the crowd was at a decent capacity, and people were beginning to enjoy themselves. I had never seen Kathryn Caledar live before and I was glad I caught her set; she did an excellent job at showcasing both her exceptional musical and songwriting abilities.

Yukon Blonde

The atmosphere and energy of the crowd peaked just after 9pm when Kelowna sensations Yukon Blonde hit the stage. I had just seen them at the Squamish Valley Music Festival the week before; once again I was exceedingly impressed. The band played a blend of older tunes and material from their latest album “Tiger Jam” that had the crowd dancing and grooving until the end of the night. Ultimately, most people came to see Yukon Blonde who were without a doubt the highlight of the night.

It was unfortunate that the beer gardens couldn’t stay open later (given it was the festival’s first year the license they were given was pretty limiting. The beer gardens closed around 9:30pm both nights), as this seemed to be the most popular spot for people to enjoy themselves. But overall, the first night was a success and despite the grim weather, festival organizers seemed prepared, excited and enthusiastic about hosting such an event.

Pick of the Day: Yukon Blonde: 8.8/10

Day 2, Saturday, August 24:

I woke up Saturday morning with my head pounding and my throat parched. After Yukon Blonde ended the previous night, I ended up in downtown Ucluelet partying at a bar, drinking more beers than I needed. But after drinking a Gatorade, some water, and popping a couple of Advil, I began to feel excited to head down to the festival in anticipation of the stacked lineup.

Portage and Main

Although it seemed cloudy when I first woke up, by the time I started walking towards the grounds the sun was out, and it looked to be a beautiful day. I got to the festival after 3pm (around the time the beer gardens opened) and caught the end of Freedom Pony, which absolutely rocked. I got the impression that these guys liked to drink beer, listen to classic rock and let loose. It was a great start to my day and the festival grounds were attracting a lot more people than the previous night giving more of an energetic buzz to the atmosphere.

The next two bands to play were also local: (the festival definitely had a local flavor with most bands being from the Vancouver area, Vancouver Island or West coast cities such as Seattle) Portage and Main, who I had also just seen at the Squamish Festival and The River and the Road who I was excited to see for the first time. Portage and Main put on a great set, bringing a strong stage presence that both exemplified their down to earth personalities and musical capabilities. The River and the Road (TRATR) continued to rock the crowd who seemed to really enjoy their music and onstage personalities. One of my favourite moments from entire festival was the last song of TRATR’s set in which all the band members performed an extensive drum solo, drawing loud cheers and applause from the crowd.

White Buffalo

The next two acts were the Basstronauts and White Buffalo who brought a different vibe. The Basstronauts use a variety of instruments to create interesting ballads and arrangements, which makes for some very pensive instrumental music. However, they seemed to lose the crowd a bit, as some seem disengaged and bored with their performance. Similarly, White Buffalo, aka Jake Smith, played an impressive acoustic set, but the down tempo of his playing seemed to disengage some of the crowd who wanted to dance, rather than engage in a more intimate musical experience. Personally, I enjoyed both sets, although I didn’t connect with everything Basstronauts did, but both acts were extremely professional and musically impressive.

The final two acts of the evening were the Seattle based band The Cave Singers and another local band, Current Swell — who many seemed excited to see. I spent the majority of The Cave Singers set in the beer gardens, and I’m glad I did; people seemed to really enjoy the sounds of their rock/folk induced set and they were definitely a treat to watch live. At this point the festival was beginning to peak as the grounds were now home to a few hundred people and the beer gardens were getting packed. As The Cave Singers set drew to a close, people scrambled to purchase last minute beers, as the gardens would be closed for entirety of Current Swell.

Current Swell

One funny observation I’d like to share: the organizers only put three portable bathrooms in the beer gardens and by this time, people (both men and women) who couldn’t wait in the long line began pissing along the edges of the fence, prompting security to try and stop their behavior (listening to the security guards explain the situation over their radios was hilarious). After awhile security seemed to accept defeat, and to be honest, other than people relieving themselves on the surrounding fence, people were well-behaved and hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go.

As the beer gardens closed Current Swell took the stage and the crowd formed a large mass at the base of the stage. For over an hour and a half, Current Swell put on an awesome set featuring acoustic-distorted riffs (think John Butler Trio esque), slide blues guitar and various laid back beach tunes that made for an overall very impressive set. The range and dynamic of the band is vast, and their versatility with certain music genres is impressive. Although there were a lot of great acts on Saturday, Current Swell took the cake for me, and they’ve definitely found a new fan as I purchased their latest album as soon as I got home.

Pick of the Day: Current Swell: 9/10

The Otalith Festival was, overall, a success; especially considering this was its first year. That said, there is a lot of room for current swell 2improvement if future festival organizers wish to expand and improve the event. To start, more resources could be sent on advertising the festival outside of the island. The festival seemed to mostly draw a local crowd, which gave it a low-key feel, but there is definitely potential to draw a larger crowd from both the island and mainland Vancouver.

The festival was relatively well organized, obviously there were some minor issues (ie not enough bathrooms in beer gardens) but these were other wise small bumps in a well run and organized event. Most of the bands seemed appreciative to be there and a sense of pride was very much apparent when talking with the organizers and many of the bands attending. Most importantly, I was really impressed with the lineup. It was the bands and their passion and willingness to play that cemented the foundation of Otalith, a foundation that has great promise to expand and grow in future years to come.

*Photos by Chris Pouget and Landon Sveinson

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