Live music to get you going until the spring
There’s an old T.S. Eliot line that goes something like this: “January is the cruellest month.” Actually, the British poet and playwright said that about April, but clearly he never visited Vancouver in spring, when the flowers are popping and the sun’s shining. January, not to mention February and March, meanwhile, are endless days of black rain clouds and dead leaves on the dirty ground. To make yourself feel better, you can sit around in your ginch reading “The Waste Land” while drinking bourbon straight from the bottle, or you can get out of the house and catch one of the following shows. All you have to do is make it through January.
(Commodore on February 1) In the spotlight: Sting has been famous for longer than most of us have been alive, first rocketing to fame with new-wave legends the Police, and then carving out a solo career that Mick Jagger no doubt envies. Backed by a tight three-piece band featuring ace drummer Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle, Guns N’ Roses), the rock icon will focus on songs from last year’s wellreceived 57th & 9th. Why you need to go: Because you either weren’t born yet or had feathered hair and were still listening to the Eagles, chances are you didn’t catch the Police’s Vancouver debut at the Commodore back in the late ’70s. With Sting almost guaranteed to do “Message in a Bottle”, get ready for a faithful approximation of what you missed.
(Vogue on February 4) In the spotlight: Once one of the most gorgeous creatures in all of Britain, Adam Ant burned brightly in the ’80s, riding his pirate-chic image—and fabled cheekbones—to the top of the U.K. charts. Following two very public mental breakdowns and years of toiling on pop’s fringes, Stuart Leslie Goddard has surfed a wave of ’80s nostalgia back to headlining tours on both sides of the pond. Why you need to go: Given a redo, Goddard might have chosen to name himself after a more notoriously indestructible insect—cory Cockroach has a nice ring to it, even though Adam Ant rolls off the tongue better. Speaking of rolling, the 62-year-old tribal-punk legend is headlining Vancouver’s beloved Vogue while Frankie Goes to Hollywood couldn’t draw flies at the Kitsilano Showboat.
SAM ROBERTS BAND
(Orpheum on February 7) In the spotlight: Some artists seem to arrive fully formed. That was certainly the case with Sam Roberts, whose first-time-at-bat 2002 breakthrough, “Brother Down”, contained the immortal lyric “I think my life is passing me by.” While we can all relate, the Montreal rocker has done anything but spin his wheels since then, and Terraform is his sixth impeccably crafted full-length. Why you need to go: Here’s a good way to tell when a song has achieved classic status: years after its release, it somehow seems even more relevant than when it first exploded onto the airwaves. Take a bow, then, Sam Roberts, because considering the shitshow south of the border, is there any better anthem for 2017 than 2003’s “Where Have All the Good People Gone?”
RUN THE JEWELS
(PNE Forum on February 8) In the spotlight: As collaborations go, it’s no great shocker that Run the Jewels has worked out a little more successfully than, say, Velvet Revolver or Audioslave. After all, as enraged as they sound on tracks like “Nobody Speak” and “Close Your Eyes (And Count to F**k)”, “socially progressive” works as a great starting description of MCS EL-P and Killer Mike. What’s amazing is that the hip-hop vets teamed up to make their old-school classic debut—2013’s Run the Jewels—as they were closing in on their 40s, which in rap years is at least double that. Why you need to go: Someone needs to remind you what rap sounded like before Ice Cube began starring in family comedies like Are We There Yet?.
WINTERRUPTION (various venues on Granville Island from February 17 to 19) In the spotlight: Assuming you didn’t fall down and break a hip, knock out your front teeth, or find yourself infuriatingly unable to secure a snow shovel at Canadian Tire, this winter has been pretty goddamn grand. Give us a blanket of white over dead leaves and black torrential downpours any day. Make a good stretch even better with Winterrruption, Vancouver’s annual festival of film, art, theatre, food, and, of course, music. This year’s highlights lean heavily on the experimental side of the spectrum, including New Orleans noir merchants Black Gardenia, artpop renegades Only a Visitor, and Great Depression revivalists James Danderfer’s Hummingbird Brigade. Why you need to go: The March monsoons will be on us before we know it, so God knows we need something uplifting to prepare us for the misery.
DESERT DAZE CARAVAN TOUR
(Rickshaw on February 26) In the spotlight: While Coachella still gets all the headlines and A-list attendees, the upstart Desert Daze festival is quietly becoming one of California’s coolest destination events, especially now that it’s setting up its generators in Joshua Tree. Let’s face it—thanks to finances, a lack of banked holiday time, and the fact Donald Trump will have blown up the world by April, you probably aren’t going to Desert Daze in 2017. The good news is that the festival is coming to you, in a stripped-down travelling version featuring garage-psych gods Temples, Night Beats, Deap Vally, Froth, and JJUUJJUU. If you’ve been saving that peyote button, now’s the time to use it. Why you need to go: Tickets are a mere $25, which is quite frankly what we’d pay to see the blues-bombed Deap Vally alone. Add four more bands, and that’s a paltry five bucks a set, which is a good couple of thousand dollars cheaper than springing for airfare, car rental, meals, and three-day passes to Desert Daze at Joshua Tree.
(Rickshaw on February 27) In the spotlight: Because of the sheer optics of the name, walking around Donald Trump’s New Amerikkka under the name Ghostface Killah takes badass to an entirely new level. Luckily, Dennis Coles is more than familiar with stirring up shit. After assembling the now-legendary Wutang Clan, the 46-year-old has gone on to carve out an uncompromising solo career that’s a dozen albums deep, including essentials like Ironman and Fishscale. Why you need to go: Sorry, Kanye, Eminem, and Jay Z—ghostface Killah is the greatest storyteller that rap has ever seen.
FESTIVAL DU BOIS (Port Coquitlam’s Mackin Park from March 3 to 5) In the spotlight: The lucky among us are headed to France this year for their annual pilgrimage, because few things on this planet are more amazing than springtime in Paris. If your Lotto Max numbers haven’t come up yet, get a taste of French culture with Festival du Bois, the West Coast’s largest francophone festival. New additions for 2017 include a folk-jam tent and a Friday-night Contra Dance starring the Sybaritic String Band. Making the trek to the coast will be artists ranging from Quebec new traditionalists Nicolas Pellerin et les Grands Hurleurs to Cajun mashup crew Suroît. Why you need to go: Because you aren’t going to France— again. A lineup that also includes Old World–obsessed duo Mélisande is guaranteed to make you feel better until your lottery numbers come up.
(Commodore on March 4) In the spotlight: On the current list of best things ever, it’s hard to top the story of a 29-year-old Israeli producer who once drummed in deathcore bands, but now mashes up heavy metal and EDM for a banging hybrid he calls Gorestep. Sometimes it’s hard to care that rock ’n’ roll is dead, and Borgore’s bragalicious “100s” makes it easy to understand why guitars are so 2001. Why you need to go: You’ve sung “Hundred hundred hundred hundred hundreeeeed” in the shower, the car, and the country club while spraying Champagne all over rich, white, and old one-percenters. Now imagine singing along with 1,000 fellow Borgore fans in one of our most fabled clubs.
LYLE LOVETT AND JOHN HIATT
(Queen Elizabeth Theatre on March 6) In the spotlight: That John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett are headlining the venerable Queen E. instead of Rogers Arena is best explained by the fact that Toby Keith is a bigger star than Jimmie Dale Gilmore will ever be. Put another way, country is the one style of music where the smarter you are, the less you are rewarded. And that’s perfectly fine, because, really, would you rather see two of Americana’s all-time geniuses in a warm and intimate theatre, or at the far end of a football field? Why you need to go: Success is always relative, and before you go bemoaning the fact Lovett and Hiatt have never really graduated beyond soft-seaters, consider that Hank Williams III will probably find himself playing the Cobalt on his next time through town. And that’s actually pretty awesome, because God knows the Cobalt rocks way more than, say, Rogers Arena.