march 29, carole pope
Judging from the formidable fleet of cameras jamming an already packed Vazaleen session at Lee's, someone was pegging Carole Pope's return to her hometown as a five-star media event.
You can just imagine the pitch: "Celebrated T-dot dyke icon shakes the foundations for raucous rock 'n' roll queers!" Not your typical CBC material, but gay's so in right now, right?
Too bad Pope played a crummy set. The glammed-out crowd remained underwhelmed throughout the flaccid pseudo-new-wave set till the wobbling Pope finally gave 'em what they wanted, slurring, "You guys like this song I don't know why," before going into High School Confidential.
Afterward, she paraded through the club sans fanfare, waiting for fans to buy her drinks. Carol's lost whatever cool cachet she had back in the day.
march 28, eleni mandell
Whether Eleni Mandell's difficulty was the sound or the soundperson, she managed to overcome the minor inconvenience to put on a bashingly brilliant performance at the Rivoli last Thursday. Following a dazzling exhibition by Peterborough's unruly brothel blues orchestra the Silver Hearts, Mandell and her three-piece touring unit had to step up their game. But they met the Silver Hearts challenge and raised them a swampy blast or two, thanks largely to the inspired cymbal clanking of Tom Waits sideman Andrew Borger and the guitar-organ genius of Woody Jackson. Instead of simply plugging her great new Snakebite (Zedtone) disc, Mandell went for the throat with out-raucous new joints that verged on punk rock. Don't miss Mandell when she returns in June.
march 30, grindig
The fresh-faced collegiate crowd who showed up at the Horseshoe Saturday night for good-time Vancouver jamband Jazzberry Ram were in for an unexpected groove onslaught from local threats Grindig. Since replacing former drummer Kevin "Mookie" Komatsu (who split for greener pastures with Fred Eaglesmith only to be left standing in a field) with harder-pounding Stephan Szczesniak, Grindig have toughened up their sound dramatically and are now beginning to exceed all "Canuck Dave Matthews Band" expectations. With Roman Tomé's conga attack moving up in the mix and singer/guitarist Derek Downham (of 16 Tons infamy) aggressively digging into Afro-Brazilian and dub territory, these fools are bound to blow up big on the campus circuit. The fact that they now have an extra $50,000 to spend on bigger amps and better haircuts since winning CMW's Xtreme Band Slam won't hurt. Grindig should turn some heads at the Canadian Olympic medal winners celebration at Nathan Philips Square today (Thursday, April 4) at 12:30 pm. They've also just been added to the "B" stage of the Sneak Peek concert with the Headstones, David Usher, Sloan and the Tea Party at the Air Canada Centre April 16.
march 31, clinic
Dressed in their trademark scrubs, Liverpool's Clinic blew through their set with surgical precision at Lee's Sunday. The band's wiry, Wire-esque pop/punk demands close attention, and the foursome delivered, remaining impossibly tight throughout their 40-minute set and speeding up songs from their new Walking With Thee disc to two and three times their normal tempo.
Ten minutes after the set ended, the handful of fans still clustered around the front of the room didn't know whether to approach the T-shirt-wearing guys unplugging gear for a word and an autograph. Could these sad-sack roadies be Clinic unmasked?
No one knew.