Maddy Cristall

Daniel Romano-The Ultimate Southern Gentleman



Daniel Romano is the distinctive Ontario based Country singer songwriter. Romano makes classic Country music in a contemporary fashion and doesn’t necessarily do that on purpose. His music encompasses everything that is right about Country music; it’s unabashed and both heartbreaking yet hilarious. However, Romano is by no means practicing some kind of gimmick. Although, his clothing choices may suggest the complete opposite of my previous notion, he is just truly Country and southern gentlemen need to represent accordingly. Romano is often clad in tailor made western cowboy suits and both a guitar and guitar strap celebrating his name in a style that is custom designed by Romano himself. Romano’s creativity doesn’t end there, he has a whole franchise of leather and hand crafted music accessories and designs impressive album art work (Including that of for M. Ward and the Weather Station). Additionally, Romano started his own record label titled “ You’ve Changed Records” alongside Steve Lambke (The Constantines) who opened for Romano this tour. Needless to say, Romano is a creative mastermind who hones a particularly impressive skill set.

Romano’s performance was well situated at the Fox Cabaret in Vancouver, a venue that is a recently refurnished erotic vintage theatre. It is a exquisite place that seems to cater to a more refined crowd during weekday performances in our fair city. Everyone at the show was certainly a fan, many even traveled from the island for the event. Other’s stalked up on beer at the bar before the performance so they could stand front-row and get faced for the duration of the generous set (true story). Romano plays with a intuitive band who give each of his well crafted songs the respect they deserve. He plays guitar with pure elegance while his illustrious voice orchestrate his poignant lyrics. His body of work is filled with sorrow, heartache and wisdom. He never borderlines feeling sorry for himself yet points out the sheer sadness of love and loneliness and it isn’t dramatic, it’s just honest. Very few words were shared on behalf of the audience that crisp Vancouver weeknight. Fans simply observed in a solitary fashion trying to avoid blinking in that they didn’t want to miss a mere moment.This tour celebrates the release of his latest and sixth album “ If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ ”. Although Romano’s music has always been honest and void of distraction this is certainly the most sophisticated body of work yet and it works brilliantly for him. Romano continues to evolve as an astute musician and is certainly one of Canada’s finest renaissance men.

Deerhunter- Fading Frontier Album Review

Deerhunter Fading Frontier


The unmistakable Deerhunter release their sixth studio album, which is like a ticket to further explore a really spectacular part of your self. Front man, Bradford Cox who is arguably better known for his solo project Atlas Sound is quite possibly the most unique man in contemporary Indie music. Cox was born with a rare disorder called Marfan disease, which accounts for his strikingly long and thin limbs. His childhood was unusually isolated in that he lived in his infantile home alone in the suburbs after the divorce of his parents and he eventually dropped out of High School. He found salvation through both listening to and making experimental music, which is understandably packed with a tapestry of human emotion. Additionally, Cox was recently in a life threatening car accident and just shortly after released this album, so as you can imagine there is a significant emotional backbone to this record.

Although, Deerhunter’s music typically bleeds with the requirement to visit internal despondence it is also incredibly consoling and always musically gratifying. Deerhunter’s music is a combination of Shoe-Gaze, Ambient- Punk and Art-Rock. Their sound is entirely specific to them and each album explores different areas of their sonic mosaic. That stated, Fading Frontier is different from Deerhunter’s previous work in that it is purposefully more normal”. Cox drew an “influence map” in the making of this record, which included the works of R.E.M and Tom Petty. These artists make “agreeable music” according to Cox, which he was ironically daring to explore. The result is an album that is certainly more Pop infused than their previous work, each song could be a single and it is void of the band’s notorious long-winded feedback solos. Although this album is presumably more “mainstream” and could even be interpreted as the band “selling out” it’s really just proof that Deerhunter can do it all.

Cox calls Fading Frontier their “domestic album” although each song tells a heartbreaking story; it comes in an accessible package. The seemingly blissful nature of this album is actually meant to be sarcastic and perpetually more morose than their previous work. Each song explores a different theme of mortality from a songwriting perspective, most notably on “Snakeskin” (“ I was born already nailed to the cross”) or in “All the Same” ( “Take your handicaps/channel them and feed them back/until they become your strengths”). From a musical perspective, Deerhunter has created another brilliant album that bravely explores an experimental soundscape that truly belongs to them. Fading Frontier will be released on Oct 16th, the single “Snakeskin” is available now with a music video directed by Renaissance Man Bradford Cox himself.





Where To Be Amongst The Fallen Leaves-Upcoming Shows In Vancouver That Will Reheat You This Fall



Summer was an intoxicating explosion of musical brilliance but I’m somehow relieved its over. Summer seems to be so fleeting that’s it’s difficult to fully believe, maybe this means I have commitment issues. German philosopher Immanuel Kant described this feeling as the “ Terrifying Sublime” which explains when something is so incredible that it’s frightening, like love…or summer. We now find ourselves once again in the season of moody weather and abrupt routine; with a hint of nutmeg. It is a time to be introspective, creative and reflective; each of which are vague emotions we use to deal with the fact that the days are getting shorter. However, amongst this unsettling time there is an abundant array of live music that will warm you right up. Here, are my humble suggestions…

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats at the Commodore Ballroom September 23

Uncle Acid is a Heavy Psych Rock band from Cambridge, England. Their music is packed generously with thick guitar riffs, eccentric reverb and wonderfully twisted lyrics. Their music contains a certain frequency that swallows listener’s whole, especially in a live setting. Uncle Acid uses vintage equipment to pay homage to the music that inspires them such as early Black Sabbath and The Stooges. Their music embodies a refreshing blend of tormented lullabies and inducing sludge. This upcoming performance will melt your face and your body will follow, don’t miss it.

Chelsea Wolfe at the Rickshaw September 30

Chelsea Wolfe is the unmistakable singer-songwriter from LA, California. Wolfe is a gothic angel who combines complex layers of genres such as Folk and Drone Metal. She creates ballads that both haunt and elevate the spirit; she imprints you with the exotic whisper of death yet screams with vitality. Her songs are rich and complicated; she sings her sinister heart out, wails on the guitar and moves with complete grace. Her performance will paralyze the audience, leaving us in the dust of our own beautifully melancholic humanity.

Peaches at the Commodore October 6

There is no person, let alone musician in the world quite like Peaches. Merril Disker A.K.A Peaches is actually originally from Canada but comfortably resides in Berlin, Germany. She is a one-woman enterprise as she plays her own instruments, produces all of her albums and programs her own electronic beats. Previous albums of Peaches include “Impeach my Bush” and “ I Feel Cream and Other Work”. She challenges social norms, musical structure, and gender binaries all while belting excellent tunes while clad entirely in glitter. Her performances are like going to an innovative women’s studies lecture and a thrilling Eastern European after-hours warehouse party.

 Black Lips and Ariel Pink at the Rickshaw October 10

I cannot imagine a stronger-suited double bill in a more suitable venue, I simply can’t imagine it.The Black Lips are a vibrant and zany Psych Rock band from Atlanta,Georgia. They have made 7 strong studio albums yet they are arguably best known for their wild live performances that normally involve at least PG 13 nudity and flaming guitars. They do exactly what they desire and fans all over the world enjoy the result abundantly. Touring with Ariel Pink was a genius career move for the Black Lips because he is as uniquely uninhabited as they are. Ariel Pink is an unconventional singer songwriter from L.A, California and has truly crafted his own unique sound. His music combines 80’s cassette culture, Synth Pop and Post Punk. Kurt Cobain and Cher inspire his fashion style; he is unapologetic, has 10 successful albums behind him and continues to evolve. He makes Lo-Fi lullabies; heart felt ballads and good ol Rock and Roll. People tend to love him or hate him, you may as well love him. This concert is certainly  unpredictable but it’s guaranteed to be memorable.

Destroyer at the Commodore Ballroom October 17

Destroyer is a personal favourite and like many people that reside in Vancouver we are often perplexed when we see this sonic genius modestly walking around the neighbourhood when our lives have truly been changed by his music. Needless to say, I’m a big fan and perversely excited for this performance.

Dan Bejar is the man behind Destroyer; he is multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter and also a member of The New Pornographers. Destroyer creates music that is unconventional, poetic, genre bending and rare yet accessible. This tour celebrates the recent release of another powerful album titled “Poison Season” which is his first since the instant classic “Kaputt” released in 2011 and widely recognized as one of the best indie records ever made.Destroyer is a walking music revolution and this performance will likely tattoo you with veneration . Additionally, Victoria based Frog Eyes and Psych Rock band Dada Plan will be suitably and enjoyably opening.

Let’s take back the season, no fun city only applies to no fun people. These concerts will keep you going all year long.


Why the Word “Retard” is Poison to our Vocabulary

There is a clear arrangement of derogatory words in the world we know we can’t use. We know we can’t use these words because they are aimed at a minority who was been plagued by discrimination. We know we can’t use these words because they suggest that having a certain shade of skin makes you lesser, that there can only be one sexual orientation or that being a certain age makes you insignificant. We know we can’t use these words because they are ridiculous, extremely dated and hurtful. These words reverse what we have fought for as a civilization, perpetuate prejudice and confuse the next generation. We know these words are offensive and if you’re not an asshole you don’t use them.

The word retard (or retarded) is no expectation to this; it is objectively offensive, regressive and derogatory. The word retard is a term that was barely acceptable thirty ears ago to describe people affected with an intellectual or physical disability. These people are often born with a disability and like skin colour, sexual orientation and age they have absolutely no control over it. People with disabilities are strong, interesting and often have different abilities that can absolutely astound us. People with disabilities  work extra hard to do things many of us take for granted. People with disabilities are extraordinary people that deserve respect and acceptance. People with disabilities are often bullied, misunderstood or made to feel like they are burdens to other’s in this world that can be cruel and exclusive.

Anne Coulter recently called President Obama a retard as an insult to suggest he wasn’t doing his job properly. Joseph Frankin, a special Olympic athlete wrote her back an open letter that featured:

”Dear Ann Coulter, Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult? I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night. I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have. Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next”

Sorren Palumbo, an advocate and brother to a sister with an intellectual disability shared:

“I don’t think you understand how much you hurt others when you hate.  And maybe you don’t realize that you hate.  But that’s what it is; your pre-emptive dismissal of them [people with intellectual disabilities], your dehumanization of them, your mockery of them, it’s nothing but another form of hate.  It’s more hateful than racism, more hateful than sexism, more hateful than anything.”

My friend with Autism Spectrum Disorder, lives independently, has a great job and is in a wonderful relationship shared with me:

“Saying the word retard is like saying “that’s so gay”, it’s going to seem really stupid in a few years”

What I find particularly troubling is that my peers often use the word retard or retarded to this day as a synonym for ridiculous, stupid or implausible. The moment this word is used I immediately lose interest in what is being said, I find it difficult to take the person using this word seriously and I know I’m not alone in this. You don’t need to use an offensive term to make your point stronger, to cause controversy or create a wider audience.  You can conduct a powerful discussion by using words that don’t negatively impact an amazing group of people who strive every single day. If you are using the word retarded to describe people with disabilities you can use extraordinary,amazing or simply just call them people like you would to anyone else. If you do use this word, you are completely forgiven-just stop, it makes you seem less intelligent than you are.

Jeff Tweedy, Kurt Vile and Afie Jurvanen Walk Out Of A Bar

The Accidental Rockstar-Jeff TweedyTweedy

“There is no point in being anybody but yourself, if you can figure out who that is, then the hard part is over”

Wilco is arguably one of the most important bands in rock and roll. They are adored deeply by those around the world, have their own label and music festival, 2 major Grammy awards with several nominations and 10 wildly successful albums. Wilco’s diversity in music is exemplary. They affect each fan a little differently, make rock and roll ballads, Americana lullabies and Country sing-a-longs. Each member is individually extremely talented and they work together like one eco-system capable of anything. However, they are free of ego, cliche rock star behavior and essentially just want to be near their families and recording studio in Chicago.

Front man Jeff Tweedy is unlike anyone I have ever met. He is witty, whip-smart and unabashedly himself. He doesn’t feel the need to reveal much of himself to others, his best friends are his sons, and he is admittedly omni-presently nervous. He enjoys awkward silences, misunderstandings and witnessing bad decisions. He seems to be one step beyond all of us but is as humble and earnest as they come. He has been so immersed in music his whole life that he can’t really imagine life without it, he does however enjoy the simple pleasures like reading, going to the lake and having dinner with his family. He chooses his words wisely and thinks before he speaks which is strangely bizarre to observe, especially for someone with such a powerful life. It’s obvious that he’s completely honest and couldn’t be any other way. Tweedy talks about how there is no point in being anybody but yourself, if you can figure out who that is, then the hard part is over. Tweedy has had his share of drug use, anxiety attacks and self-deprecation but doesn’t believe in the archetype of the “tortured artist”. In fact, he finds that term rather damaging towards artists as it makes it easy for them to spiral out of control and blame it on their passion. His has used his struggle to become a stronger musician and is always aware of maintaining his mental health. Tweedy loves making music even more than he used to and becomes perpetually more comfortable at what he does, 25 years in the thick of the industry. Wilco is an ever-evolving band that makes incredible music and conduct unforgettable performances.

The Vile-Elation- Kurt Vile


 Kurt Vile is a truly unique musician with an extensive history of rock and roll. Vile has four great solo albums and was formally a member and co-creator of The War On Drugs with his best friend  Adam Granduciel. Vile now plays with his band the Violators or solo with a new album shortly on the way.Vile is profound songwriter, guitar shredder and a wonderful singer. His songs tell stories that often involve tragedy and beauty. He gracefully straddles both the struggle and ease of life and emanates this wisdom through his music. Vile describes Winnipeg (where our interview was conducted) as an “inclusive mecca of artists” which I could not agree with more. He isn’t blind sighted by fame and fortune and truly loves music with an undeniable passion. Music comes to him, lives vividly within him and seeps gracefully out of him. He describes transcending on stage, singing each lyric differently than he had the time before as his conviction ranges with great diversity. Vile is influenced by Grunge, Country and Americana. Vile is signed with Matador records, amongst other songwriting geniuses.

Vile has a long musical background and a life that certainly suggested it’s what he focus on exclusively. He is accepting towards incessant touring, raising a family and personal development. He embodies ancient wisdom with a contemporary flare, like a rock and roll buddha. He listens deeply to others, is curious about the world around him and truly grateful for every moment in this “weird and awesome world”

Bahamas is Afie- Afie Jurvanen


Afie Jurvanen A.K.A Bahamas is one of the kindest men in rock and roll. He invites you into his world through his songs that have a consistent way of understanding life. Jurvanen and I had a lovely chat the other day confirming his rich sincerity that is so prominent in his music. He was situated at a recording studio in Toronto producing a presently secret project. This isn’t the first time he has produced as he just finished working with the Weather Station whom he met at one of her performances and was “stunned by her talent”. Their recent work together is great, they are truly complimentary artists. Just over a decade ago Jurvanen busked on the streets and sold his owns CD’s.

Jurvanen describes  Toronto as an excellent place to have a family and advises to always put family first as music has a way of revolving around whats important in life. He always knew he was destined to be a musician and strategically avoided conflict and pressure of other careers. He is inspired by the slow temple tunes of Bob Dylan and Neil Young which is apparent is his beautiful ballads. His latest work “Bahamas is Afie” is a fun and fresh album that is more upbeat than his previous Pink Strat and Barchords. He describes his songwriting process to be personal and surprising. For example, his hit “Lost in the Light” was nearly not going to be released until he sang with others and realized the song’s potential. Bahamas are on an Australian tour this summer and celebrating the success of yet another flawless album. Afie is the man in what we know and love about Bahamas.

Bahamas is a multi Juno and Polaris winning Canadian songwriting genius.

The Art of Artswells


Joanna Chapman Smith at the Tempest

There truly is no other place like Artswells, which seems to be the first thing most people say about this spectacular four day art explosion in Wells, BC. Wells is a small, beautiful and historic town located in the Cariboo of Northern BC. That stated it is not particularly easy to get to and the fact that it is packed with thousands of people is a sign the festival is doing all the right things. The truth is, they are; this tiny town is completely taken over by the festival, which makes for various venues for the even more various artists including churches, a heritage theatre, a casino, pub, legion, community hall and pockets of outdoor spaces that are surrounded by mountains and river. Everywhere you look offers a different kind of extraordinary beauty with a different kind of creative force. Musicians, visual artists, theatre and spoken word are all part of this omni-presently satisfying paroxysm of creative freedom.

 The highlights

Rusty Ford
Rusty Ford is a Vancouver based kooky Country artist who encapsulate both the absurdity and heartache that deeply exists in the threshold of Western music. His songs express the sadness and hilarity of life along a refreshing interpretation of the characters within it. Ford takes you on an eventful walk in the wrong side of town; his performance that was suitably placed at the Legion was wonderfully unforgettable. The audience sang along to his charmingly crooked lyrics such as “ I hate every bone in your body except mine” and “My truck, my dog and you” The Saturday night patron’s drew on the outdoor walls of the Legion, the staff made you feel like you were their first cousins and I have never seen more suspenders paired with Hawaiian shirts. Rusty Ford sang his reckless heart out in a Honky Tonk suit with a band as well suited as whiskey with squirrel.


Pugs and Crows

Pugs and Crows are a powerful progressive Jazz and Folk ensemble based out of Vancouver and New York. They blend various textures of rich sound and create modern sonic masterpieces inspired by classical music. Their sound is rejuvenating, visceral and absolutely stunning to observe. They have won Juno awards, toured extensively and have opened for the great Bill Frisell. However, these humble and wonderfully talented people manage to be as much audience members as they are performers as I  consistently witnessed them enjoying the various elements of Artswells.

Pugs and Crow’s performance at the Sunset Theatre on the phantom Sunday night was completely paralyzing, the packed house, which consisted mostly of other musicians barely, paused to blink. Their music contains virtuosic intonation accompanied by complicated chord structure yet it remains elegant and accessible. The members of Pugs and Crows are independently genius musicians, but together they are an avalanche of brilliance.



Pugs and Crows at the Sunset Theatre

Jasper Sloan Yip

Jasper Sloan Yip is the singer-songwriter of a six piece experimental Indie-Folk band out of Vancouver. Jasper is blessed with a stunning voice, his songs swallow you whole and the band play with great intuition and delicacy. Their performance at the Outdoor stage on Sunday night was suitably timed as the sun was setting, the sounds of the night were impending and everything and everybody were becoming less Folky and more Rock and Roll. Jasper Sloan Yip provide both the nostalgic and experimental nature of Indie-Folk, their music makes you feel comforted yet inspired. They are all lovely, charming and talented people; admitting they are tired yet not stifled by this inevitable feeling after incessant touring. They aren’t trying to be anything they are not and allow their songs to caress the verge of pop. Jasper Sloan Yip’s performance was graceful, intuitive and uplifting.


Jasper Sloan Yip at The Outdoor Stage

Fun Lord (Bend Sinister)

Fun Lord at the Main Hall  was the most fun I have ever had on a Monday night. As the conclusive feelings of the festival coming to an end along with more precipitation than desired, there was certainly a dark cloud feeling erupting over the grounds before this performance. However once all the incredible volunteers gathered in the cozy Main Hall and Fun Lord began to play, this feeling melted into a frenzy of joy and splendour all over again. Each member in this 80’s revival; synth-centric, party galore band gives it their complete all. With their ecstatic faces painted and bodies clad in colourful 80’s aerobics wear they are the real deal. Fun Lord belted out originals and party anthems, invited the audience on stage, (most notably Queen’s “We Are The Champions”) engaged in various solos and performed eccentric stage dancing. There could not have been a better way to end this four-day frenzy of everything amazing


Other highlights include Tereza Tomek singing both heart warming and wrenching songs with a pet duck she was babysitting onstage at the beautiful small church The Tempest. 2 Dope boys, the spoken word duo performing commanding and hilarious words completely in-sync. The Tailor conducting sweaty, sensual and symbiotic tunes to a 3 am crowd in the basement of the Main Hall. The various musicians constantly gathered throughout the town playing their own tunes to the ever-changing mobile crowd walking by.One of the most unique aspects of Artswells, is that more than any other festival I have been to, the artists are interchangeably audience members, which ultimately unites everyone. There is nowhere more real yet surreal than the incredible and unforgettable experience known as Artswells.


Conversations In the Sonically Blessed Plains

Winnipeg-Folk-FestivalA collection of interviews and concert reviews gathered from the Winnipeg Folk Festival 2015

Daniel Champagne

Champagne and I sat down the evening before the festival took place, in an air conditioned and licensed establishment otherwise known as a bar. Such establishments are greatly appreciated prior to the four day stint of blistering heat and limited amenities, not that the rural swelter isn’t lovely. Champagne is a warm, humble and earnest chap from Australia that currently resides in Nashville,TN.  Champagne has an affinity for the inclusivity of Winnipeg and an extensive history of  playing at the Folk Fest. His incredibly rich guitar playing is distinctive and impressive for a man in his rather early twenties, his instrumentality is well paired with an appeasing singing voice that explodes with passion. He writes his own songs, learned young and always wants to be touring. His vibrant yet unassuming personality make him an excellent candidate to succeed greatly while refraining from becoming poisoned by his own ego and taunted by self destruction. He respects music and his career within it which is obvious in every little thing about him.

Birds of Chicago

The Birds of Chicago  are an exceedingly lively group of four that are a such a pleasure to be around. The creators of the band are a husband and wife duo JT Nero and Allison Russell who both encompass a diverse range of musical talent with skills on various instruments and song writing capabilities. Accompanied by the talented Chris Merril and Joel Schwartz, the Birds of Chicago provide fun yet profound music. Nero and Russell bring their beautiful daughter on the road who is greatly nurtured by the empathy that seems to be the foundation of their band. They listen greatly, make acute observations and are each a cleanse of human kindness. Russell’s Francophone background mixed with Nero’s Blues contribution creates a collision that shapes a sound that is strangely reminiscent of old New Orleans flavour whilst staying contemporary and fresh.The combination of Folk-Canadiana that Russell honed through her respective years with Po’Girl and Nero’s authentic Chicago blues immersion creates a  reflection of some of Canada and America’s most revered folk music.

 Xylouris White

Xlyouris White is a power duo made up of George Xylouris and Jim White. White’s early career took us through many sounds, moods, and elements of chaos and spontaneity. Through his illustrious years of musical contribution he collaborated with Nick Cave, Cat Power and Smog to name a few. White has developed into a more delicate role while having creative freedom since forming Xylouris White. Xylouris had nothing but big shoes to fill as he followed his family’s route into music. Xylouris’ father (a Cretan singer and Lyra player) to his uncle (who’s music became a symbol for the 1973 movement that eventually brought down the Greek military régime) Xylouris was sculpted to have a significant music career. The two have been collaborating for years and are literally touring across the globe. They are wise, pensive, and thoughtful gentlemen who likely know more than all of us but yet will always stop to say hello.

Matt Anderson

Matt Anderson is one of Canada’s favourite singer-songwriters with a voice like a volcano and a spirit like lightning. He lives in New Brunswick in a generously acred home that offers the inspiration that fuels his music. He loves touring with the extremely well suited Mellotones who play with the same rare ferocity he too embodies. Anderson’s performance at the Main-stage during the festival was like an explosion of passion that paralyzed the audience. There’s no one quite like him; he constantly evolves and truly loves sharing the strange and wonderful experience of making music.

Steve Gunn

Steve Gunn is the truly gifted singer songwriter from Brooklyn who formally played guitar in Kurt Vile’s band The Violators. His music is a sound I have been looking for. He strings together elements of a Bert Jansch-esque guitar approach combined with his gentle voice and lyrics that both break apart and stitch up your heart. Talking with him is similar to how his music sounds: inviting, non-judgmental and sweet yet it’s not saccharine or superficial in any way. Gunn shared with me that he collects albums, records his must at home, just finished touring with Wilco and has played all over the world. He discussed the importance of maintaining both mental and physical health while on tour despite the various distractions and deviances the road has to offer. Gunn has an impressive 11 albums under his belt yet still laughs like a teenager and performs with a sense of newness that could sweep you away.


Wear Whatever You Want


Let’s be honest, summer can suck sometimes, it’s mostly amazing but sometimes it’s just too damn hot and we all know this otherwise air-conditioning would not exist. However, despite it’s bouts of difficulty it’s a glorious season; it’s bright, beautiful, and bursting with fun, we just need periodic strategies to cool off and one of them is wearing less clothing. Some people adore summer fashion; it’s simple, light and sparse, some people don’t for the exact same reasons. However, wearing little clothing is necessary for our well being which is the most important part of enjoying this strangely complex season. I personally find it essential to withdraw from tending to physical appearance in the summer, as this time of year is more utilitarian than aesthetically important. Ironically, people look extraordinarily attractive in the heat with their natural hues, windswept hair and sun kissed faces. The unfortunate thing is that I have been noticing a significant series of conversations, articles and marketing strategies that send the message it isn’t OK to show your body if it isn’t perfect by our impossible North American standards. I don’t know who decided what body type is perfect and how the hell we listened to them but it has certainly become ingrained into our society. This behaviour is called body shaming, it is alive and well and affects us more than we realize subconsciously. Body shaming affects men, women and children, we do it to ourselves and we do it to others. Here are some current examples of body shaming in our society…


This is from a recent article in the “Modern Man” a term we usually reserve for progressive, emotionally sensitive and self aware men.

  • The “Dad Body Article” that went viral from The Odyssey, the article discusses the perfect balance of athletic and doughy male bodies, suggesting this physique is the “new look” for men this year. The problem is that even though it’s celebrating a common and obtainable body size,it is only geared towards men, it is somebody else’s pre-conceived notion of what is acceptable and it is specific to young men. Additionally the backlash of this article involved criticizing shirtless men with very normal bodies with headlines such as “Dad body isn’t really in” and other words that waste your time.
  • Instagram deletes risqué photos of women revealing their bodies if they’re heavier and/or “flawed” bodies. This has happened for over 70,000 users simply showing off their bodies like many other Instragram users.
  • Countless cooperate food products are marketed at being low in fat, not healthy and it’s difficult for many people to understand the difference.
  • Tabloids depict the bikini body more than any other subject.
  • The countless “summer is coming” get a “beach body” and “look good in a bathing suit” help turn summer into this frightening experience that is impending upon us.

images-1From a recent Campaign titled ” Strong4life” out of Georgia to raise awareness on child obesity.The project was not successful as statistics show shame is not a catalyst for change.

images-2Apparently the outcome of a common house hold staple that is commonly enjoyed internationally.

It is no surprise the media is littered with strategies to poison our minds and in turn convince us we need to buy more to avoid imaginary problems. What is surprising is that I continue to read, hear and experience messages that suggest we should reveal, alter or cover our bodies from those around me.The only person that gets to decide what you wear outdoors is you and that is one of the best parts of freedom so enjoy it. In my experience, everyone is unhappy with at least something on their body and no one else seems to notice or care about that same very thing. Trust me on this one, you will look and feel the most attractive when you stop criticizing yourself and others. You look amazing, the best diet is one from the media and you already have a bathing suit body if you own a bathing suit. The point is- it’s summer, it’s hot outside and this only happens once a year so wear whatever you want and try to enjoy every second of this godforsaken season.



The Birth Of Something Fresh-The First Annual Levitation Vancouver

14-blackmountainday2_003Black Mountain in stanley park- photo courtesy of Audrey Alexandrescu

Levitation Vancouver

The first annual Levitation Vancouver took place this past weekend, kicking off Friday night and remaining strong to the mischievous hours of Sunday morning. The entire festival was a spree of excellent music,unforgettable experiences and stunning visual moments.

Austin Psych Fest and Timbre Concerts have joined forces to present the first ever Levitation Festival in Vancouver.  Austin Psych Fest was originated fittingly by the Black Angels in 2008 whom also headlined Levitation Vancouver and absolutely killed it.Just like Austin Psych Fest, Levitation Vancouver offered the cream of the crop of shoegaze, experimental and psychedelic music.  The music is heavy, droney and lysergic; the are no rules to follow and everyone is welcome. The Festival took place in beautiful Stanley Park by day and in the various charming venues of the Downtown East side by night. Stanley Park is placed conveniently in the centre of the city, it encapsulates sheer natural beauty with ever-changing landscape and powerful acoustics.

The kick off Party was at the historic Rickshaw  on Friday night, the Rickshaw is a amiable  venue converted from a Kung-Fu theatre, it’s located in the thick of the Downtown Eastside and consistently offers some of the best live music in the city. The frequency of the evening provided insight towards how fun, non-pretentious and stimulating this festival is going to be. Drenge, The Warlocks and A place to Bury Strangers wailed all night long, elevating the senses of those around them while elaborate light shows surrounded the fog of their music.  It’s difficult to write about Psych Rock and avoid words such as “trippy” or “hazy” and I will continue to try, but I assure you that night was both of those ambiguous adjectives.

Saturday was one of the first really warm days of the year and in Vancouver summer heat is a fleeting phenomenon that you must milk for dear life. Outdoor permanence was made simple as the entire day took place in one of the nicest parks on the planet with an excellent flea market, a beer tent, a grilled cheese food stand and an assortment of amazing bands. Dada Plan, Mystic Braves, Dead Moon, Black Mountain and The Black Lips performed flawlessly and lawlessly. The Black Mountain performance was most notable as they’re one of Vancouver’s most important bands, they just released the 10th anniversary of their debut album and their set was faultless.

That evening, the Cobalt, Electric Owl and The Rickshaw hosted various incredible acts including Dead Meadow, Tobacco and The Shivas. A heavy consistently of people flooded the streets, waiting for space available for them to witness three completely different shades of mystical music mayhem.

Sunday came around,as it always does but this time it didn’t provide it’s impending fun ending doom. Instead, another full festival day and night was available with a completely dreamy lineup. I had more time to enjoy the little wonders of the festival such as a tree covered in intricate doilies, various therapeutic canopies and the lovely local businesses at the flea market. Black Wizard, Night Beats, Beach Fossils, Witch and the Black Angels performed beautifully and notably surpassed the audience’s expectations of this festival.


That night the three previously listed venues were thriving along with the China Cloud which is one of my personal favourite venues in Vancouver. It feels just like you are lounging at a cabin with all your pals, participating in a legendary jam session and there is absolutely no tomorrow. That night the lovely Ryley Walker performed, intoxicating visuals were projected on the walls and eventually the whole venue collaborated on a music piece and performance art. The Black Angels were pleasantly relaxing amongst this lovely havoc which completely reiterated the theme of Levitation. That theme is that something incredible happens when great musicians start an amazing music festival with other great people, allow it to evolve and eventually share it with another city that is often misunderstood and not being fun. Those who attended Vancouver’s first annual Levitation festival know that Vancouver is extremely fun, the festival was co-ordinated wisely and it will continue successfully  for numerous years to come.

War on Drugs at the Vogue Vancouver-May 24


WarOnDrugs-13-1Photo courtesy of  Charles Steinberg 

The War on Drugs sold out show at the Vogue completely fulfilled this highly anticipated occasion. The Sunday night concert was packed solid with a wholesome, respectful and noticeably appreciative crowd. The Philadelphia based six piece shoe gaze-indie rock band seems to have perfected the art of a set list. Fans politely yet anxiously waited in their tiny velvet seats watching the elaborate stage set up becoming designed. Some kind of ecstatic accord happened when the band began performing. They started with “Under the Pressure”, the first song on their widely successful latest album Lost in the Dream. The band has three great albums under their belt but Lost in The Dream have put them on the international map and is a sonic work of art.

Front man Adam Granduciel is the primary songwriter who wails the guitar and sings like a dusty angel. His presence on stage is electric and the band is completely in sync. Their songs have an appeasing hormonic and psychedelic quality to them but that isn’t to say they are not complicated. Granduciel shared kindly with me the following day that each song requires complex looper techniques, specific instrumental equipment and a venue that provides rich sound quality. However, the music remains weightless and delightfully enigmatic to listeners, some may even call it “trippy”.

Each song performed seemed to melt into the next, perpetually creating a stronger and more powerful concert. Songs from each album were consciously placed and skillfully selected which made for an excellent flow. Granduciel’s guitar solo’s are iconic to watch yet remain tasteful, this was made most obvious with their hit “Red Eyes” which contains a heart breaking crescendo that was gracefully performed.  The audience melted into each song; clapping when not required, closing eyes and singing along. Even band members seemed hypnotized as they played these wonderfully written songs with notable sensitivity. I didn’t witness a single person in this well suited heritage venue who wasn’t entranced by this mesmerizing show. The concert was finalized by my personal favourite track “Come to the City”  from Slave Ambient which is completely shattering live.

As I am not fond of encores I snuck out on this perfect note and witnessed the incredible Dan Bejar (Destroyer) outside who was visually moved by this performance and evidently also not fond of encores. That memorable instant has officially become one of my favourite moments in the chronicles of concert moments. This moment was especially powerful as it was after an unforgettable, hypnotic and stunning performance by the incredible War on Drugs.