Published Jun 06, 2011The beginning of June in Vancouver means two things: Vancouverites openly pondering whether summer will ever arrive and Music Waste. For this year's 17th edition of the fest, the sun actually decided to come out of hibernation, heating up five days of shows celebrating some of the city's best -- albeit not necessarily best known -- bands.
In past years, the festival eased into full swing, starting off with a night that only offered one or two choices, but this year, the proceedings roared to life on night one, with Wednesday boasting 26 bands across seven different venues.
Open Relationship started things off at the Cobalt with some unpolished but endearing no-nonsense punk. Across town, Oh No! Yoko was one of Wednesday's highlights, turning out a set of frantic, quirky pop at the Railway Club. Not to be outdone, though, were Joyce Collingwood. Last year, the ladies' snarling hardcore was one of the surprises of the festival. This year, they headlined the Cobalt to bring the first evening's festivities to a close in appropriately fierce fashion.
An early Thursday set by the Abramson Singers ushered in night two in a more calming fashion with a set of soothing folk that impressed, despite some shoddy sound at Lana Lou's. Later in the evening, two Vancouver mainstays, B-Lines and Defektors, proved why they're longstanding local favourites at the Cobalt and the newly opened Electric Owl, respectively. But, it was Men at Adventure who highlighted night two with a hard-rocking set at Electric Owl earlier in the evening.
While one of Music Waste's strengths is the lineup's diversity, it was all pop music that stole the show on night three. Despite battling some microphone issues, Louise Burns turned out a stripped-down set that took some of the studio polish off of the songs from her debut LP, Mellow Drama, letting her knack for melody shine through even more than it does on record. Later in the evening, the Astoria played host the one-two punch of My Friend Wallis and Apollo Ghosts. The former's reverb-soaked sunny pop songs led into the frenetic and always entertaining set by another local favourite.
Watermelon was an early bright spot on Saturday, getting the crowd moving at the Waldorf with their bouncing brand of surf rock. Animal Bodies, who were, stylistically, almost a complete 180, were the highlight of the festival's fourth day though. Taking the stage at the Cobalt after Mode Moderne elected to call off their performance after a fight with a rather surly sound guy, their dark, foreboding and at times industrial-sounding post-punk made the night's earlier issues worth enduring.
The festival finished off in perfect fashion with an outdoor BBQ, beer garden and final show in the Waldorf courtyard on Sunday afternoon. The combination of sun, booze, and barbecue was, in and of itself, enough, but the surf punk of Harsh Words and some lo-fi garage rock from Dead Ghosts capped things off in impressive fashion.