Kevin Brasier recently moved to Ontario from Sackville N.B., and is currently volunteering for Weird Canada, and working at Sonic Boom Records. Having co-organized Stereophonic between 2012-2014, Kevin is back in town to cover a music festival very close to his heart.
Well, so much for the daily updates. I got a taste of my former waster days and I couldn’t stop long enough to do anything but write a few scattered notes on Josée Caron’s laptop while watching The Wiz in bed with a mean hangover. That was Friday. I’m already back in Toronto and have had some time to think it all over. What the hell happened this weekend?
So yes, Friday. A couple double gin ceaser’s helped my rock n’ roll flu (made by Sackville’s greatest bartender, the one and only Amanda Curti), so I walked down to Thunder & Lightning to see Parter play. For those of you not quite in the loop (i.e. not living in Sackville), Partner is the adopted, non-breast fed in public brainchild of Lucy Niles (The Mouthbreathers, GGF) and Josée Caron (the other two plus YELLOWTEEETH). Their lyrics tackle such subjects as: finding sex toys in your roommates room while scouring for roaches, preteen sexual awakenings (via Jelly ‘sex’ bracelets), and having to make friends with someone only because they are the other kid on your street. They got the room howling, although I’m not sure how the boomers in the corner felt about it.
The Vogue show was a bit of a blur, but I must say, Jeff MacKinnon’s daughter is getting the Friday night Spirit Award for her dancing during Klaraka Weinwurm’s sweet set. Everyone was extremely jealous and I’m sure wanted to join in. It’s just that no one could even compete, so maybe we gave up without even trying.
If you know anything about Sackville, then you must know about the legendary roadhouse, George’s. Now only partly operational, it was a real treat that it was reopened for the show with Jon Mckiel, Coach Longlegs, and Kavorkas. Ilse and Scott, the festival co-organizers, made everyone very happy by making things happen there! Jon Mckiel – what can I say – he’s incredible! Have you heard his record? Just stop what you are doing now and listen to it now.
So Jon played with an all star lineup: Aaron Mangle, Jay Crocker, and Dice E. It was massive! MASSIVE! I was supposed to write a review of Jon’s album for Weird Canada and I actually chickened out, because I just didn’t know what to say (sorry Jon). I just can’t find the words to give it justice. It’s too good!
And holy smokes – Coach Longlegs! They were the belles of the Stereophonic ball all weekend long. The best people, best songs, just the best, period. Although you can do just fine with their recordings, you’ll never know what you’re missing until you see them play live. Dr. Dave Barclay is like some kind of punk rock, anti-Toni Robbins self-help guru. If the Killer Haze mentality could be expressed philosophically, Dave nails it every time. You mainlanders are lucky that these cats moved from Saint John’s to Halifax just the other month. Watch out!
And in the distance, behind the train station, Cousins are shooting off fireworks. A perfect and inventible ending.
And now we’re here. Well, we were there, on Saturday. All of us waiting for the festival climax of seeing Astral Gunk play at the Legion. In this scene, you will find Lucy Niles and myself engaged in some sort of primal mosh rage, screaming the lyrics to ‘Waster’ in one another’s faces and smashing around the room like two very drunk freaks, before ending up on the floor and in each others arms. But wait! I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. Let’s start from the start.
The general outlook on the last day of Stereophonic is that it will be the best final night in years. Not to mention the impending winter storm scare; this is the stuff of Stereophonic legend. I figure it’s Old Man Winter’s way of trying to get in on the fun. I heard from Luke Patterson we were going to get three feet of snow that night. Someone else said six. I think by the time I showed up to Thunder & Lightning to see Jacuzzi Perth, it was figured to be someone between eight and 12 feet of snow. But no one knew for sure.
Brendan Allison is Jacuzzi Perth aka Jacuzzi Birth– a musical version of the going-ons of our friends who essentially squatted in a house on York Street. It featured Jamie Fagan on the organ, Scotty B. on drums, and Sloppy Joe Chamandy on bass. Highlights include, but are not limited to: ‘Pizza is my Girlfriend’ and ‘I play Electric Guitar.’ I heard Lucas Hicks offer them a spot at SappyFest right on the spot.
After the show, I quickly made my way back to Curti, Lucy, Josée, and Luke’s place for some surf n’ turf and about four double gin caesars. There was much to accomplish, what with both the Struts and Legion show on the horizon, and I had to be STRONG. You just can’t beat gin and scallops for that.
I arrived just in time to see Zakary Slax appear on the stage as a human disco-ball with red LED light glasses, and the tightest red flower print pants you’ve ever seen on a biped. I’ve been dying to see this rat-crew play since their tape came out last year on Killer Haze Records. The Montreal by way of Sackville rat kings just blew Struts up. It was incredible. You had to be there, and if you were, then I certainly don’t need to say another word. If you weren’t, then I’m sorry. You’ll just have to hear about on the VH1 documentary about them fifteen years from now.
Stereophonic miracles can and do happen. Case in point– Andrew Neville got to play in his favourite band in the world, Old and Weird. It was a special moment, an incredible show, and featured a wonderful guest appearance by Bonnie Raitt. When it comes right down to it, their song ‘Lamp’ is simply one of the best tunes I’ve ever heard. It was a real treat to see Old and Weird again, I love them!
By this time, we got word that the weather (a snow storm for Heaven For Real north of Boston, a rain storm for us in Sackville) would prevent H4R from coming to the Legion. It was a damn shame, because I would’ve loved to have seen the Grundys, as well as see Nathan Doucett play the drums. Nate-Dog is truly one of the best. But it just wasn’t meant to be. We would be losing Monomyth too, as a result, because of the absence of Scott Grundy. Yikes! That’s the way she goes sometimes: sometimes she goes, sometimes she doesn’t. However, by a stroke of luck, every member of Halifax’s Nap Eyes was in Sackville that evening, and were quickly added to the Legion bill. And you know what? They ended up turning it into a joint Nap Eyes / Monomyth set, which flat out ruled, using a little help from Keith McFadden of Astral Gunk and Best Fiends. You just never know what is gonna happen at Stereophonic, folks. One minute your up, the next your down, and then it turns on its head in a split-second sideline call. God bless you, CHMA!
And yes, speaking of Best Fiends, they kicked things off at the Legion on Saturday night and it was astounding. Halcyon Averill, former Sackvillain (and, unfortunately, recent Canadian deportee), was back in action on her vocal duties. Hal was singin’ right up there with Keith while expertly banging the old tambo to some of the finest acid-melted, THC dripped, puppy love pop songs you’ve ever heard. Keith is a guitar-hero-freak of nature, but I don’t need to tell you that! And Liz! Liz Robinson is grabbing the Saturday night Spirit Award for best bass licks + best jump suit.
And then it was Astral Gunk. I mean, what can I say? It was the Big One. It blew our brains and spines right clear to the Aulac Big Stop. In hindsight, there might have been something gracious about the slight lineup change, which had the Gunk play last instead of second-to-last. No band, and I mean NO band could ever follow the Astral Gunk in Sackville, New Brunswick during that final night of Stereophonic– not even some sort of strange zombified super group consisting of Frank Zappa, Elvis Presley, and J-Dilla. They would’ve been great, sure, but they just couldn’t have followed those bastards. They banged out hit after hit: Waster, 666, Free Love, Stay Glued, Modern Life–even a very rare performance of Hedonism. This might not make any sense for anyone whose soul hasn’t been saved (read: damned) by Astral Gunk, but for anyone in Sackville reading this, I know some blissfully debauched thoughts are pouring back into your skulls just by mentioning “All Surfs Up.” It was special, moving, touching, everything. It was everything to me!
And just like that, it was over. Another Stereophonic in the bag and I had to pick up the pieces and go back to the Big Smoke. After hugs and kisses and pancakes in the morning, I had the honour of traveling back powered by Curti’s double gin caesars and the in-flight company of Brendan Allison. But hey, unless Scott is yanking my chain, I’ll see you all this June at Stereophonic 12.5.