A Night in Photos by Casey Bennett

28 09 2009


from top to bottom: Sex with Strangers, DonkeyDong, Holy F*ck, John and Roy, Jets Overhead, Hey Rosetta

All Photos by Casey Bennett

Saturday Overview

28 09 2009

By the time I got down to see Holy Fuck in Element, they were halfway through their set. Two girls walked around in their bras, perhaps to even things out for the girl walked around wearing a full head to toe cow costume, complete with udder. Someone wearing a woolen raccoon mask got into a slight shoving contest with a random passer by. Everyone was crazy, but everyone was loving it.

The bar was at capacity, but everyone had wedged and shoved themselves onto the dance-floor, or as close to as possible, so it still looked half empty. At one point Element employee Mike Page stood up on the top of his bar to get a better view of the band.

“Holy fuck,” he said afterward. “It was incredible. They’ve been on my top 5 bands-to-see list for the last few years now and wow, they didn’t disappoint. One of my favourite shows ever.”

The line at Market Square was over three hundred long. Of the people that actually made it in before Buck 65 took the stage, a two-plus hour wait was not uncommon. While waiting for him to start I ended up having a drink with Dan from Inflight Safety, and we talked a little about the Canadian music community.

“Everyone is friends with everyone.”

He and Dan Mangan text each other brick-breaker scores to beat. Hey Rosetta! Sleeps at his house when they hit Halifax. On Friday, they found themselves scheduled opposite Library Voices, who they’re soon taking off on a cross-country tour with.

“It’s all very incestuous, but friendly. Though I suppose incest implies a level of friendliness. Or maybe over-friendliness. I guess it’s a question of how much is too much…”

A trip into the Rifflandia HQ got me a little information about the shows. OF all of the bands, only two had to cancel, and both on super short notice. “They both were super short notice. Final Fantasy even came in and picked up his passes,” said one Rifflandia worker, “and then he started throwing up and crying. Because he was disappointed he wouldn’t be able to play, I mean, he was just crying.”

Buck 65 looked lonely, alone on stage and wearing a thick white cardigan. But he had energy, and the audience delighted in live versions of SITUATION standout track “Dang” and his biggest hit to date, “Wicked and Weird.” He also introduced a lot of the people there to work from his new project Bike for Three. The sound quality was good, and he never missed a beat. then, at about quarter after he one, he was done.

His set was good, but it was also only half as long as a lot of people waited in line to see it.

“I thought his set was awesome. He was great. I probably wouldn’t have waited in line for two hours if I knew that he was only going to play for one, but I’m not really upset about having done it,” said Tiffany, a local university student. There were a lot of other comments about the brevity of his set, but no one had a single criticism about the quality.

Even though his set was short, afterwards he spent a good deal of time talking with fans, taking pictures and giving autographs. He stood around with a group of fans long after most of the rest of the audience had left.

Guitar Pedals and Axes and Knives and Slingshots – 10 Minutes with Holy Fuck

28 09 2009


I sit down with Holy Fuck only minutes after their set, the first time I’ve ever done it that way. They look exhausted, so I promise to keep it short. We sit down, and I grab my computer while they grab the tequila. I spoke mostly with Brian Borcherdt and drummer Matt Schulz, though bassist Matt Mcquaid had one brilliant addition.

Adrian Markle: The requisite question. What’s your opinion on festivals as they relate to or differ from smaller, headlining shows.

Brian: Well they’re definitely two different things, normally, but here it feels like a little bit of both. We’re at a venue that we’d normally play, with the type of crowd we’d normally play to.

Matt S: It Feels like something we’d normally do, but “festival” automatically makes me think “outside,” and “tent,” so this…

B: What if we set one up inside?

MS: That could work.

B: And I’d just like to say that what little I’ve seen of it that there’s something really appealing about [Rifflandia]. It’s done really well, there’s an attraction to it. We even really liked the festival guide. It’s nice, the artistic direction.

AM: And how did you feel about playing in Victoria?

B: We’ve played here once before. We opened for Wolf Parade at Sugar. It was fun. They’re great and this is kind of their hometown so it was fun to come here with them and play here for their friends. The crowds are really good here too,

MS: It’s beautiful. We got to walk around all day and see everything. The weather doesn’t hurt either.

We’re sitting in the band room back stage as the club-DJ takes over for the night. The first song is a “No Rain” mash-up. The band all stop talking at one. Finally, Matt Mcquaid breaks the silence.

MM: What the fuck? That’s like taking a really nice pizza and shitting on it. Why would you mash up this song?

With no one able to answer, or even respond, we turn back to our interview when the laughter dies down. Brian continues on about Victoria.

B: It was great tonight. Our album isn’t new. It’s been out a few years now, so it feels good to go into a full room even though we haven’t been generating a lot of press. People danced their asses off. There are asses still out there, laying on the floor, getting swept up into little cups.

AM: By now people understand what you do, musically, at least as well as they can. What I don’t know though, is “Why?” Where did the idea to write and perform this kind of music come from?

DSC_0060B: Where it comes from is what the four of us do together. It’s a group effort, and it would sound very different if any different people came into the band. It’s a very creative project. We’re trying to use different instruments but still…we have toys and guitar pedals and axes and knives and slingshots. It forces us to be creative in an unexpected way.

MS: I don’t have anything to add.

B: The concept was based around that. Just trying to do something unique, maybe not in all of music, but for us. Push ourselves a little bit while still having fun.

AM: What about the new album? Want to talk about it?

MS: Well we’re just about done with a record that we’ve been working on for a minute now.

AM: Did you play anything new tonight? I missed about the first half of your set.

MS: Well then the whole first half was new stuff. That’s all we played.

B: We actually did stuff we’ve literally never done live before, which was awesome.

MS: And the next fifty times we play it it’ll suck, because it just won’t be as good as it was tonight.

B: Yeah, that’ll happen. It can still be good though.

MS: Like “Greasefire.”

B: Yeah. There were times…

The band jumps into a conversation of jams and off-the-cuff songs they’ve played live. Brian tries desperately to get anyone in the band to remember the song he can only remember as “Dinkdog.”

Food is brought in for the band, and I promise to get out of their hair, but have one more quick question. In 2008 the band’s name was listed as one of the reasons that Federal Conservatives we’re cutting funding for local musicians to go on promotional tours.

AM: Publicity aside, how did that feel?

B: Well you can pretty much imagine. It felt pretty lousy. We were in Poland and we got up, still jetlagged. I was up really early, and it’s a weird feeling being somewhere new when you can’t sleep, and that was the first news we heard from home. It was insulting. The worst thing was they were sort of passing us off as illegitimate, and that our art or music was somehow not deserving. But here we were far from our family and loved ones, working really hard, playing music in different countries. We were working our asses off and we’d have liked to hear good news. But whatever. It just sucked.

-Adrian Markle

Photography by Casey Bennett

Holy Fuck Interview, Saturday Night Overview

27 09 2009

…coming tomorrow.

I’m exhausted. It’s 2:30.

One thing I did get a hold of: Talk of a secret show Sunday night. I tried to get some info from Rifflandia HQ, but I think they thought I was a homeless person. One woman on-staff told me she couldn’t give me anything until tomorrow, because some things weren’t finalized, and she didn’t want to get ahead of herself. They refused to comment on whether or not it’s the already-announced DJ set at the rooftop tomorrow night, but it’s likely not.

She told me to check online tomorrow for details. So,iI’m pasing that on to all (7) of you.

I Don’t Know How To Do Nothing – Buck 65 via Email.

27 09 2009


When I was sorting out my interviews for the festival, I thought I’d see if I could get one with Buck 65. He’s the headliner, but I thought “Hey, why not at least give it a try?” As I expected, I got word that he’d be too busy for an actual interview, but that if I wanted to email some questions he’d try and answer them. I did, thinking I’d get back a few sentences to use in my summary piece.

Instead, I got back a replyas long and in depth as anything I’d have sat down for.

Adrian Markle: By my count you’re nearing your twentieth release (including ep’s and side projects). That’s more than most career musicians do in their entire lives, and it’s been less than 15 years since your debut. You also have a full time(ish) job with the CBC. Talk to me about work ethic and what it means to you. After this long in the industry you don’t think you’ve earned the right to slow down a bit? Is there a reason you don’t?

DSC_0229Buck 65: I think there may be even more records than that! I had a super-prolific surge in the last year. Since I started the job at the CBC I released four albums (Dirtbike 1,2 and 3 and More Heart Than Brains) and wrote and recorded a fifth, which will be out early next year. Oh, there should be a DVD out next year too. We’re just putting the finishing touches on that now. I’ve never been the kind of person to “take it easy”. I never have spent time doing nothing. I sleep eight hours a night. Work at the CBC for about 6 hours a day. That leaves 10 hours out of the day to devote to Buck 65 stuff. No problem! I’ve tried to take time off before, but I can’t do it. I don’t know how to do nothing. I don’t understand the beach, for example. How do you go somewhere just to sit there?! I can’t do it!

AM: In keeping with never resting, you’ve just come out with your Bike For Three debut. What was it like working with someone you’ve never met? United Nations and The Sound of Animals Fighting have also recorded albums without being in the same place. Do you enjoy the freedom that allows, or do you miss having the person right there to bounce ideas off of?

B65: There’s something about working with a perfect stranger that creates an interesting creative situation. Joelle and I both agree it’s vital to Bike For Three. Wondering about something is what creativity is all about. It’s freedom, but in a box. I like that. It’s hard, but I like it.

AM: Do you know what you’re working on next?

B65: After the DVD and the next album, which I’m just finishing up, I’ll go to work on a new Bike For Three album. We already have two new songs done. I think I will also make another Dirtbike-style album to go along with the new album – release them on the same day. Maybe one for sale and one for free. I got a few other things here and there cooking. Collaborations and whatnot.

AM: You’ve had major label releases, but more and more regularly you’ve engaged in self-recording. Do you see yourself taking your experience and eventually doing what El-P does, recording half the time and producing the rest? Or do you think you’ll be staying in front of the mic and just producing your own work?

B65: I rarely get asked to produce for other people. When I do, it’s usually for films and not other musicians. I’d love to do more. Especially film stuff. I love making instrumental music. I always want to do more. I will rap forever though.

AM: You’ve got a good amount of experience in the festival scene. Do you prefer the big festival shows like at Coachella or Glastonbury where there are huge crowds that don’t always know you, or a smaller headlining show? What’s your favourite thing about playing a festival? Your least favourite? What’s your favourite show/venue that you’ve played?

B65: I like going to festivals as a fan. I like getting to see the other bands. But I think I’m probably more of a smallDSC_0238 venue kind of performer. I’m not good at dealing with drunken-ness (others, not my own) and festivals tend to be extra-drunken. Hard to pick a favourite show ever. I’ve had a few amazing festival experiences (despite what I just said). One Glastonbury experience really stands out. That same year I played a big one in France which I’ll never forget. A few summers ago I played a show in Albuquerque that was incredible… It’s hard. I’ve been performing half my life now. I’ve had lots of good nights and lots of crappy nights.

AM: Concept albums rarely sell. Neither does much music that you could accurately tack the prefix “prog” onto, yet you frequently go through the extra effort to put together releases that are more than just a collection of songs, most notably with SITUATION. What is it about that style of recording that keeps you coming back?

B65: Man, I don’t know. For the new album I’m just finishing now, I made a few rules for myself and one of them was “no concept!” It occurred to me the other day that people just want to relate to what they hear in songs. I’ve always been more interested in appealing to people’s imaginations or giving them something new to think about. That’s why I have to work a regular job now. Ha ha.

AM: One of most controversial points of your career was your Kerrang interview in ’04, which you’ve since said was a reaction to the reporter calling you a sell-out and a whore. Sell-out especially is a term thrown around a lot, despite its lack of clear meaning. What does it mean to you? Does money automatically come with compromise?

B65: I don’t think there’s any such thing as selling out anymore. Maybe ’04 was the last year when people still worried about “selling out”. That “journalist” had a problem with me being on a major label and having guitars in my songs. To me, selling out means giving up on art to do something just for the sake of making money. I’ve never done that. Even the idea of “writing singles” gives me the willies. But I’m a weirdo, I guess. I wouldn’t say that money and compromise go hand-in-hand. Maybe BIG money. But then again, look at Radiohead.

AM: You’ve been releasing more and more music for free online (dirty work, then dirtbike), like some other high profile artists recently have, though you also signed to a label for your last major release (situation). Which direction do you think things are heading? And if there’s a difference, where do you hope things are heading?

B65: People are trying to figure out where it’s heading right now. I have an idea and I think it will work. It’s big. It’s radical and it so simple, no one has thought of it. Maybe I’ll wait and just do it before I try to explain in publicly. But let’s just say that I believe that music has value and that I also really believe in the idea of the album. Some people have been saying that there’s going to be a strong return to the age of singles. I would hate that. Anyway, I’m not giving up.

Buck 65 plays tonight at 12:05 in Market Square, but be sure to get there early.

-Adrian Markle

Photography by Casey Bennett

Bonus Performances Added

27 09 2009

Rifflandia has added a new venue, The Rooftop, featuring two days of largely local DJ sets.


8:00 – DJ SicLife

10:30 – K-OS

12:00 – B.Traits


7:00 – Souldier

9:00 – DJ Stallion

10:00 – J-Reign

11:30 – B.Traits

-Adrian Markle

Friday Night

26 09 2009

Vince Vaccaro played a ‘stripped’ down set at Element.DSC_0235DSC_0236

An Horse opened for Tegan and Sara. This amazing duo from Australia will be touring with the girls on their upcoming tour.DSC_0246DSC_0250


And I ended my night (early?) with Acres of Lions at Lucky.DSC_0298DSC_0311
Photography by Casey Bennett

Ballet for Your Grandparents – Tegan and Sara at Alix Goolden Hall

26 09 2009

DSC_0264An hour before Tegan and Sara, there were over two hundred people lined up outside Alix Goolden Hall. They were lined up far enough to block the entrance to the Metro theatre. Event organizers walked up and down the line informing people that they likely weren’t going to get in. No one left.

I asked a doorman how many people he thought were going to get in.

“Twenty,” he said. And after a pause, “maybe.”

A half hour into the set, there we’re still about an hundred people outside. An hour and a half in, a group of twenty or so girls huddled on the stone steps in front of the door, which organizers had left open so they could still listen.

I suppose in a way I wanted to dislike Tegan and Sarah. The music snob in me wanted to be able to talk down about the headliner. I didn’t want to like them.

But, I couldn’t help it.

DSC_0297The audience cheered when Tegan and Sarah came on stage. They cheered louder when the band joined them. By the time they played the first few chords of Walking with a Ghost, I couldn’t hear anything but screaming. I could only tell the song had started because I could see that they were strumming.

The sound was off for the first few songs- too rough- but some behind the scenes tinkering evened everything out quickly, in a way at least.

Tegan announced quickly that she had a cold, and had taken a bunch of cold medication. Then, some coffee to combat the fatigue. Then, some energy drinks to ward off the crash of the coffee. She and Sara talked about not having played live for months, and how they’d both badly screwed up in the first few songs. Strangely, it didn’t make their set worse. It made it better.

The strength of their set came from their between song banter, which took up nearly a third of the set. The joked easily back and forth, clearly excited to be back on stage for the first time in a while, and back in Victoria. They teased each other relentlessly.DSC_0285

They also debuted a handful of new songs from the album. Tegan introduced a new song of hers, “Hell,” which she expressed a great deal of trepidation playing in a church, especially for the first time. “Seriously, we’re not religious,” she maintained. Afterwards Sara introduced one of her new songs, “Redbelt.” Tegan spent five minutes prodding Sara to explain the name. Sara half-heartedly called it a reference to the David Mamet but refused to give the real explanation. Those who know the term will understand why.DSC_0267

They played half about half a dozen new songs from the album in their nearly two hour set. They played old favourites like “The Con,” and “Back in Your Head.” They laughed on stage. Tegan fellated her index finger in an effort to calm her itchy throat. She asked for a doctor. Sara said “fuck” onstage, and then revelled in her ability to do so. “That’s what I love about Victoria. I can say “fuck” because it’s natural. It’s organic, like tofu and yoga. It’s alright because I made it.” “We love you,” someone shouted to them.

“We really, really like you too,” Sara answered. “I don’t want to say love.DSC_0272 That’s such a strong word, you know? But you’re nice. We trust you. We know that we can always come and play here and you can’t hate us. It’s like doing a ballet for your grandparents. Even if you don’t like the act, you still basically have to love us. We’re like the cat that get’s the weird hair-falling-out disease. You might hide it in the den when company comes over, but you keep it. We’ve been through too much together now.”

Overall the band played for about two hours, getting through a significant chunk of their discography. Not everyone could make it into the event, but Tegan and Sara made sure that everyone who got in left satisfied.

-Adrian Markle

Photography by Casey Bennett

Mentioned in Passing: A random selection of Rifflandia quotes

25 09 2009

Ever wonder what doesn’t make a published interview? Sometimes it’s the boring stuff or just lame answers to equally lame questions, but other times there are some real nuggets that get passed over simply due to word count. With that in mind, here’s a few bon mots that didn’t make Greg Pratt’s Rifllandia piece in the current issue of Monday.

Roofs are good

Rifflandia organzier NICK BLASKO on a solid difference between this and last year’s fest:

“We have a festival headquarters now, whereas last year we had a temporary tent. It feels pretty awesome to have a roof over our heads, and to be able to provide our audience with a consistent place to access information, face to face.”

They like us . . . we think

Featured act AN HORSE drummer Damon Cox on why the Australian duo is appearing at Rifflandia:

“I guess the organisers like our band? I’d like to think so anyway.”

Bonus points for honesty

BEACH HOUSE guitarist Alex Scally answering questions with absolute truth:

What are you up to today?

“Today we practiced a bit for the tour we leave for on Friday and planned some photographs for the album we have just finished. That’s literally all we did . . . sorry it’s not more interesting.”

What will you bring to Rifflandia’s audiences?

“A very loud, warm ball of energy that will hopefully make everyone feel differently: some blissful, others full of regret, some amused, others lost in daydreams . . . ”

Do you know much about Rifflandia?

“No, not much—all we have heard again and again is that Victoria is insanely beautiful. Can’t wait!”

Chopsticks and Anthrax

Michael Dawson of Regina buzz band LIBRARY VOICES on his keyboard abilities (or lack thereof):

“I write the lyrics and then mostly mess around with effects pedals and the synths; I add a lot of the textural elements to our songs. Truth be told, I might be the only human on Earth who owns a keyboard and can’t even play ‘Chopsticks’ . . . although once in high school I did sit down and learn how to play ‘Got The Time’ by Anthrax on my mom’s piano.”

Note to fans: An Horse vocalist Kate Cooper likes chocolate and comic books

Note to fans: An Horse vocalist Kate Cooper likes chocolate and comic books

Which is bigger—the tuba or the moustache?

Natasha Enquist of local outfit BUCAN BUCAN on the reality behind their performances:

“We’re singing in Croatian and Serbian (and we know most of what we are singing about), Chris’s moustache is real, our large tuba is called a sousaphone and yes, we’re that band that played all through the rain and under the lightening and rainbow at this year’s Luminara Festival. And besides playing at pubs and festivals, Bucan Bucan is available for parties of all kinds, gallery openings, parades, markets, weddings, funerals—all the ways to celebrate life! We’re taking offers now for Hallowe’en, Christmas and New Year’s parties!”

Bonus points for honesty II

Michael Dawson of LIBRARY VOICES on why they were chosen to appear at Rifflandia:

“That’s a really good question—unfortunately I don’t have an answer for it.”
What else should Victorians know about you?

“We absolutely love your city. We can’t wait to get back to beautiful streets, pillage your Value Village, eat ourselves sick on your buck-a-slice
pizza, enjoy the lights from Christmas Hill and, most importantly, make some new friends.”

Send that girl to Legends . . . and Roger’s

AN HORSE drummer Damon Cox on how to give  vocalist Kate Cooper a treat:

“Kate enjoys comic books . . . and chocolate.”


25 09 2009

Shad has played Victoria a couple of times through out the last little while and I’ve always intended to see him play. I never did make those shows and so I made it my goal to catch him play this time and I did. And I loved it!


Photography by Casey Bennett

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