The live music scene is currently in a bizarre state in Vancouver, which perhaps may be mirroring what is actually happening in the music world as a whole. Last week I went to The Men at the Waldorf and noticed that there may have been some people that showed up thinking that they were seeing another New York based band, but musically very different MEN. The result was kind of an odd crowd scene, coupled with the venue of the Waldorf which is sort of the darling of the local music scene, but the boutique small stage the Waldorf has didn’t really seem appropriate for the 5 piece post punk band.
Such was a similar scene at the Fortune Sound Club which is normally reserved for dance club nights especially on a Friday, but the generally late 20-30’s crowd definitely looked like they were in the mood for nothing more than aural punishment and general mayhem that would be Rhode Island’s Lightning Bolt. There would be no confusion here of anyone perhaps showing up to the sweet sounds of Lightning Dust. An early show would provide the venue for a full night’s work for the staff which would then set up for the later surreal crossover. Yellowthief kicked things off with their best Lightning Bolt impression which did a decent job of setting the tone for the evening. Shearing Pinx have been shredding Vancouver ears for about 6 years and continued to do so in the last of the warm ups before a highly anticipated and rare appearance of Lightning Bolt. From the first warm up drum fill by Brian Chippendale everyone knew the assault they were about to endure. There’s something about a live music experience that is incredibly enhanced by a drummer like Chippendale. Noise rock can be just noise if you have it blaring out of your speaker while you do some gardening outside, but on stage in a wrestling mask, Chippendale’s drumming and stage persona made it a religious experience. (Those were words used by some of the concert goers afterwards. I would generally not use them, but in this case it might be appropriate.) It was pure sonic mayhem as Brian Gibson very coolly played his distorted bass licks to the incredible controlled havoc percussion by Chippendale. It was a chaotic trance that I was lulled into, the distorted vocals that came through a microphone that was tucked into Chippendale’s mask, almost started to make sense. At one point Chippendale pointed out that there was a melancholia happening at the back of the room, and that he liked it. It was perhaps just the pure shock of the crowd, of never having experienced something like this, but there was also something else going on.
About half way through the show I noticed some of the bar staff were changing over, a gentleman in a suit began to take drink orders. He started table service to a couple in the corner, bringing them vodka tonics, while at the same time a woman that was probably caught in the mayhem of the mosh pit was being led out bruised and obliterated. When the show ended I turned around and a fabric of space and time ripped as I realized that I was now in the middle of the dance floor at Fortune, with girls in short gold shorts and awkward diamond high heels. Brochachos in Ed Hardy shirts leered nearby looking at the crowd in bewilderment on the other side of the worm hole. As the Lightning Bolt crowd filed out, a steady stream of clubbers were filing in, a common occurrence now it would seem in Vancouver. Later on that night I ended up walking past the outside of Fortune and marveled at how quickly the scene had changed. I saw a girl being led out of the club looking sick as if she’d just been roofied by one of the brochachos. The juxtaposition of the two women, one being led out of the mosh pit, and one being led out of the dance club then began to mesh, the rift in time and space had been sealed up. The lightning bolt that had stuck created the void, and the audible memory is all we have left of that strange dimension, because we were back in the real world.