AMS Block Party McInnes Field, Vancouver BC April 11

AMS Block Party McInnes Field, Vancouver BC  April 11
The University of BC used to put on one of Canada's largest student-run events in the year-end charity concert Arts County Fair. Held on the last day of classes, the fair was celebrated by 15,000 folks who sent up the year with music and gallons of alcohol. With university kids, the line between stress relief and excess is a subtle thing; conversely, this year's event, newly named, strove for responsible partying (smaller venue, restricted student-only access, an 8 p.m. curfew). The line-up reflected the change: while previous bills included Swollen Members and other rowdy-makers, this year was pure, mid-tempo sway music — at least on paper. Most Serene Republic and Five Alarm Funk did their best to draw patrons away from beer and mini donuts; meanwhile, the line to get in bottlenecked as security took their time with bag and sobriety checks. Wintersleep followed, maximising the easy-going mood of the growing crowd by jamming on instrumentals and older material between hits like "Jaws of Life” and "Weighty Ghost,” which sounded huge outdoors, thanks to the fierce timekeeping of drummer Loel Campbell. The sun came out as the smiling band exited the stage. But you can only keep drunk, happy kids calm for so long. As Stars tried to prolong the peace fest, opening with "Take Me to the Riot,” they ended up fighting the pull of bodies and booze (read: a mosh pit). "Stars are about celebrating weakness, and love,” singer Torq Campbell said, in an attempt to dissuade moshers. He would halt his band three times (once by storming off) when the crowd continued to disobey. "It's not 1995!” he added. Co-vocalist Amy Millan, however, was the voice of reason, ignoring the crowd and happily belting "Going, Going, Gone” and "Ageless Beauty,” before returning for a solo shot at "Is That All There Is?” Sure is. Right at the stroke of eight.