Published Jul 27, 2015That he'd rather be at home drawing than performing is a common assertion from Chad VanGaalen. That sentiment was backed up by much of his onstage chatter, which tended to focus on anything but the matter at hand — performing for the sun-baked afternoon crowd. Still, his tales of forest creatures angered by all the noise and a too-detailed account of accidentally catching a girl defecating in the woods (seriously, you could make a pretty stellar spoken-word album out of VanGaalen's stage banter) all added to the Calgary musician's DIY junk shop aesthetic.
He opened his set with a wall of noise before shifting to "Cut Off My Hands" from last year's Shrink Dust; with its opening line, "Cut off both my hands and threw them in the sand / Watch them swim away from me like a pair of bloody crabs," it was indicative of what was to come for newcomers, offering glimpses into the Calgary-based musician's bizarre point of view. He was backed by a drummer and bearded multi-instrumentalist who helped bring the compositions to life, while VanGaalen played a battered, headless guitar, its empty pick-up hole covered by a children's vanity plate that read "Chad."
Ragged and raw, the music was a bit of a stretch for many who expect more #YOLO-friendly tunes from their festival performances. But when VanGaalen really opens up vocally on the high notes, as on "City of Electric Light," it's hard not to get sucked into his wonderful weird world.