TREBLE CHARGER, KARDINAL OFFISHALL and BIF NAKED performing as part of Snow Jam at Exhibition Place, September 23. Tickets: $10.21 advance/$20 at the gate. Attendance: 29,150. Rating: NN Rating: NN
extreme sports, once a bastion of anarchist damn-the-suits subculture, have become as corporate as, well, Pepsi. Or Mountain Dew, to be exact. Sure, a few mohawked punks sporting Fuck Capitalism pins turned out for the Snow Jam tour, but it was hard to find them among the brand-name logos plastered as far as the eye could see. As they proudly pledged their loyalties to Mountain Dew Code Red and McCain Pizza Pockets, it was obvious that the kids weren't all right.
The bands in the lineup tried to make it about the music. Local faves Treble Charger (who filled in for no-shows Goldfinger) did their best Blink-182 pastiche, delivering a charged set of generic three-chord alterna-pop.
The puerile punks' gimmick of having volunteers chug 2-litre bottles of ginger ale during a single song had fans frothing at the mouth to get onstage. Their encore of the Beasties' Fight For Your Right was bizarre considering that most of the audience wasn't born when the track came out.
Supported by MCs Black Cat and Korry Deez and DJ t.r.a.c.k.s. of the IRS crew along with a four-piece band, Scarborough homeboy Kardinal Offishall rose above tech difficulties to deliver a tight set -- and the only positive message of the day.
After a lightning-fast take on Outkast's Bombs Over Baghdad, the conscious rapper got serious with an intelligent anti-war, anti-Bush diatribe. Since the rest of the Snow Jam shoutouts were corporate plugs and the sponsors were getting louder applause than the acts themselves, Offishall's message of peace, love and tolerance was an admirable feat of activism.
Tiny Bif Naked was a whirlwind onstage, bouncing like a rubber ball and randomly doing roundhouse kicks. The skanky, feather-boaed Snow Jam dancers gyrating stageside looked awkward and gargantuan in comparison.
The kids crowd-surfed in clouds of inflated condoms, and Bif shook her booty, oblivious to the sound balance problems obscuring her half-yowled/half-growled vocals. Both band and crowd were so pumped throughout the hour-long set that nobody noticed the songs were indistinguishable from one another (despite the pianist's use of the entire Casio sample spectrum), or that Bif's interludes between numbers were unintelligible.
In the end, however, the bands seemed more like an afterthought; the main event was selling cool. And the Snow Jam kids ate up the corporate attitude like it was Pizza Pockets.