Archive for the ‘bands’ Category

An Interview with the Team Canada DJs

by Johnny K

Aaron Waisglass (aka Grandtheft) and D.R. One (aka Raph Kerwin), collectively known as Team Canada DJs, have been on one hell of a journey since combining forces back in 2004. Their quick cuts and genre-blending mash-ups have taken them to Asia, Europe and even to Paris Hilton’s birthday party, and this sounds like just be the beginning. Booked solid for the majority of the 2010 Winter Olympics on the medal stage in Whistler, Aaron recently took a little time out of his hectic schedule to talk about what the two have been up to lately.

UQ: So, first up, how did you guys come up with the name “Team Canada DJs”?

GT: Well, we came up with it 6 or 7 years ago. We’re big hockey fans and, also, we’re English Montrealers and nationalists. You know, we’re real pro-Canada dudes… it has had to do with the hockey and we kinda dreamed at the time when we were local DJs to have a whole plan to blow up in Canada and then be TEAM CANADA. When we went to the States and no DJs of our time were really doing that, it kinda worked.

UQ: How did the two of you cross paths?

GT: How did we start off? Well I started off as a musician as a kid and I started DJing when I was about 17. Raph started off as a scratch DJ when he was really young and then became a battle DJ. We both kinda met in the middle by DJing at clubs and met in Montreal through the hip-hop scene. We both had a similar style of club DJing that was energetic, quick mixing – kinda NY hip-hop style but we’d be playing all kinds of music.

UQ: Going back even further, what kind of music did you grow up listening to?

GT: Everything – both of us listened to everything but DR1’s like a hip-hop encyclopedia. I listened to hip-hop for sure but I listened to dance music and rock. I played in punk bands when I was younger as well and I was still making rap beats. I’ve always been into every kind of music and both of us appreciate every kind of music so what we do hinges on that.

UQ: I can totally relate. I think a lot of people these days are getting into a whole bunch of different genres as opposed to before where everyone’s kind of stuck on one thing.

GT: Yeah, I think that’s kinda the par for the course now but when we started doing it around 2003, 2004, it was really an unpopular thing to do. You’d go to the club and you’d hear either house music or rap or RnB or you’d go to a rock bar but there was no way of hearing everything at a club, you know? It was either like Sean Paul and Beyonce or house music or techno. There’s a huge division there and we were going into mainstream RnB hiphop clubs and playing Nirvana and house music with rap. That was really a crazy thing to do then but now it’s a very standard thing to do. It’s a mainstream thing almost in a way.

UQ: Big time. It’s great that you guys were there at the beginning for that. Why do you think diversity and genre-blending is so appealing to people these days in general?

GT: I think that while we were doing it here, DJ AM and Hollertronix were doing it in the states as well and this whole style blew up. As I said, it was really some original shit back 6 years ago but it’s a natural thing and people liked it right away. We started playing really big mainstream clubs and people were taking a real chance on us because we were known as these crazy guys who played all kinds of music, so you really didn’t know what we were going to do. But we always played songs people knew and there’s an accessibility there – the whole style hinges on doing stuff that people recognize.

UQ: Got it. Was music something you always thought you’d be doing for a living?

GT: I always wanted to do music, and both of us have university degrees and both of us came out giving this a full shot and were struggling for years to make it. I think it’s worked out really way better than either of us ever expected. So is this something we’ve always wanted? Yeah but I mean to be out here playing the Olympics and doing some of the things we’ve done and seeing the places in the world we’ve seen… Man I always say, even to my folks, if it ended tomorrow I wouldn’t have a single regret. I would not say I wouldn’t be bummed but I really wouldn’t even be bummed. We’re so blessed, man, and the places this has taken us, we’re well aware as well as appreciate a lot of it. So I hope to be doing it for a long time. We own a club now, we have a management company and a crew called the A-Team and I started a little record label as well so we got our feet in a whole bunch of stuff but it’s tough to say, man. This is a very tough industry so will we always be doing it I don’t know but we’re definitely happy to be doing it right now.

UQ: Okay, last question: any final words of wisdom for other DJs and artists who are trying to get ahead in this business?

GT: Well, I always say the same thing: you gotta work hard and be smart in the business but I also think that the key, key, key thing that always helped us was just being original. Don’t try to look at us or anyone else and do what they’re doing and use that as a model for success because you got to do your own thing and you got to do something different. Do something really creative when you’re making music or doing your shows because, otherwise, who cares if you’re doing the same thing as someone else?

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Introducing Times Neue Roman

posted by UQ Events

Live From “The End”, the band’s Kensington Market studio in Toronto – Times Neue Roman brings rock with a general tone and attitude of teenage immortality. Comprised of an award winning poet, Arowbe Arowbe Arowbe (Robert Bolton) and composer, Alexander The, TNR’s peerless sound has been turning heads and snapping necks.

Since debuting in 2008, Times Neue Roman have been rousing crowds at basement jams, rooftops, auto-garages, house parties, pubs, glitzy clubs, NXNE, Juno Fest and the back of a U-Haul truck. They flaunt a live show complete with wild theatrics, reckless moshing, tribal percussion and live visuals.

Even while breaking every rule of song writing and conventional structure, TNR’s popular potential is confirmed by recent placements of their single “Roq Roq” on the EA Sports video game, Fight Night: Round 4 and other songs on TV series like CSI: Las Vegas, A&E’s The Cleaner, MTV Presents: Summer Sessions and 11th Hour.

Times Neue Roman are no strangers to the dance floor either, as confirmed by the recent January 16th release of Zombies; a remix package including heavy-hitters like Barletta’s refix of “To Die” and DJ Jedi’s anthemic remix of “Hi, This Is My New Song”.

It is thus, with great anticipation, we announce their newest single “Best Est. 2019” on February 23rd, which is sure to place TNR among the exciting wave of Canadian artists emerging in this new decade.

CHECK OUT THEIR VIDEO BELOW: Times Neue Roman :: Best Est. 2019

2010 is slated to be a big year so keep your eyes and ears peeled for Times Neue Roman, March 11th at the Musebox showcase for Canadian Music Week and March 26th at Ronny’s in Chicago.

Vanderslice still a cut above

by Glen Callendar

Young indie types can be a dour, hard-to-impress bunch, and they were out in force to see electro-rocker John Vanderslice at the Media Club on September 16. Resplendent in their thick-rimmed glasses, alabaster, never-went-to-the-beach-all-summer complexions, and heavy cloaks of social awkwardness, it took 40 minutes of Vanderslice’s 70-minute set for those stiffs to finally warm up. But warm up they did, reenergizing the band as their pouts turned to smiles and they thrilled to that strange and unfamiliar emotion we humans call happiness.

John Vanderslice

Alright, enough making fun of the indie kids. Vanderslice opened his 70-minute set with “Too Much Time”…

…the strongest cut from his new album Romanian Names and one of the most beautiful songs he’s ever recorded. This gave way to a solid set of old and new favourites. Vanderslice’s carefully-produced recordings have a delicate quality that never seems to come through onstage, but this tour’s live arrangements did not disappoint, the familiar electronic elements effectively complimented by low-register acoustic instruments such as a stand-up bass, bass clarinet and baritone sax. Clearly delighted with the results, at one point he had his keyboardist and clarinetist replay part of a song unaccompanied by the rest of the band, simply because he thought their parts were so lovely they should be appreciated without the distractions of drums, guitar and vocals.

After an hour onstage the ever-cheerful Vanderslice wrapped the show with his signature unplugged encore, where the band came off stage with their instruments and played two acoustic songs in the middle of the club floor with the audience crowded around—a charming coda that brought the band and audience together like friends singing songs together at the beach. And since, as mentioned above, most of his audience never made it to the beach this summer, this warm and affectionate send-off only reconfirmed Vanderslice’s status as an essential indie artist.

Band of Skulls: Not what you’d expect

by Nick Black

Last Thursday, I saw a band that I knew very little about—a decision that can sometimes end badly. In fact, I’m a little ashamed to say, I only discovered them the day before the show. They call themselves Band of Skulls. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but don’t let the name throw you off (it made me think of an eighties revival hair metal band). This is not what they are at all.

Describing their sound is difficult, due to their total eclecticism: Each song appears to have a different influence, and each has its own appeal. The first few songs on the album are hard hitting, raw rock (think Black Keys), but from there each song seems to take a tour in its own, completely different musical landscape.

So, I stumbled upon this band only 24 hours from the show. A friend had lent me the album, and after listening to it all day, I could not miss an opportunity to see them live. As far as their live performance goes, I’m not sure where to start.

During this day in age, when rock music seems to be forgotten in the squeaky vocals of the latest radio-bound band, it is refreshing to see bands like The Dead Weather and Band of Skulls; rockers that put all their passion into their music and express it in a live performance. People always say that crowd interaction is important in a live band. You know: the banter that Wayne Coyne has perfected. For me, more than the interaction with the crowd, I need to see passion from the players—a sense that they are into what they are playing. Having said that, Band of Skulls was adept at this. They oozed rock and passion. Each song they played did not sound exactly like the album; they let the music take them where it would, as if they were simply transmitting something beyond their control.

I almost wish I had something bad to say. I assume my readers, if there are any, must be getting annoyed with me constantly praising the bands I see. Truth be told, I haven’t seen a bad show in a while; they simply seem to be getting better and better. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been to a show that I knew I wouldn’t like in a while; at least not since Ben Harper at Deer Lake Park. Perhaps I’ll write an angry retrospective sometime. Until then, get over it.

The Dead Weather: An Indescribable Musical Force

by Nick Black

For those of you who may be unaware, The Dead Weather is a group—or “supergroup” as some have dubbed them—comprised of members from other well-established rock’n’roll acts. To be specific, The Dead Weather is made up of a singer from The Kills; a guitarist from the Queens of the Stone Age; a bassist from The Raconteurs; and, of course, the notorious drummer who is from both the White Stripes and The Raconteurs. (I say ‘of course’ because Jack White from the White Stripes is always mentioned in any piece about The Dead Weather, now including my own.) I initially thought that this band would become another venture turned into an over-hyped disaster a la Velvet Revolver. Thankfully, I was very, very wrong. I heard the album and was immediately taken in by the dirty, rough, southern-bluesy rock that I have now grown to love so much.

The Dead Weather

I suppose I should preface by saying that I have been avidly attending rock shows for over ten years now. My first was when I was thirteen: My dad took me to the Rolling Stones. Since then I’ve always loved music, and have taken nearly every opportunity I could to go and see a band live. This means that I’ve been to a massive amount of live shows—from DJ’s to heavy metal—pretty much the whole gauntlet. Furthermore, I’ve seen The Kills three times, and The Raconteurs and The White Stripes once, so I knew what to expect from most of the performers I was going to see on Saturday.

That said, I was still blown away. I hate writing that though; it doesn’t come close to truly describing what I felt at the show. As I sit here and write this painful excuse of a glowing review, I listen to the record and still get tingles from remembering that night. At one point I turned to the buddy I was with, and it was like looking in the mirror, his face was as lit up by the performance as mine felt, like a child that’s finally meeting Santa Claus after waiting up all night for him.

I realise this isn’t the review that most people would want: You want me to draw comparisons. What could be expected if you attend a show by The Dead Weather in the future? What is it that makes their live act absolutely, indescribably rad? Well, I just can’t bring myself to tell you; it would de-value the brilliance I saw. Instead, I’ll leave you with this: Saturday was one of the best shows I have ever seen. You simply have to see it for yourself.

I highly suggest checking out The Dead Weather’s music so you can be ready to grab tickets the next time they are in town. Until then, check out the videos of their live acts, the best of which is “Will There Be Enough Water”.

UQ Events

Love turns Electrik at the Modern

by Bob Pember

On Thursday night, the record label Tremendous celebrated their newest addition, Love and Electrik, at the Modern in Gastown. The music was concise and well-aimed—it was clear what Kevin Mah and Roxy Aiston were after with their sound. What impacted me the most was that their music and the crowd that came with it brought me back into the early 80’s—and I was born in ‘85. There’s a formidable pan-80’s movement nesting within the denim vests, head bands and shoulder-lacking t-shirts worn by some of Vancouver’s downtown core; ensembles perfectly matching the Scarface-meets-Billie-Jean decor of the Modern.

There was a small but enthused crowd of roughly a hundred boppers ready for steady drum and synth samples underneath a smooth, haunted female vocal-line from Roxy Aiston which was paired with talk-box growls and key-tar solos from Kevin Mah. Their sound was tight and very true to an 80’s dance genre, but it didn’t seem very concerned with making any progress from that moment. I’m all for pointing towards the past in style, but like any reach backwards, it has to be brought up to speed if you’re at least going to attempt to create a new layer on top of past genres.

The music was great to dance to, but I kept getting the feeling that I’d heard it all before. The duo is more than capable of going further. Roxy’s melodies are proof that she has an ear for cohesion and timing—she has a sound that’s easy but not subtle. Mah is extremely adept at his vocal and synthesizer devices—seems to know them inside and out—so it would be great to hear him take them past the confines of “that 80’s sound” and into something more unique.

To be fair, I have to say I can’t fault them too much for staying the course with their throwback sounds. There’s a concerted effort these days to bring back more than just the music from two decades ago. Both the fashion and the decoration of the club matched the music—it was like being at a themed party having never gotten the instructions. Everyone there except me had been told to dress like your favourite part of the 1980’s. There were the girls who just wanted to have fun with t-shirts draped over one shoulder and there were guys in fluorescent headbands and aviators wanting to make sure you’re aware that they wear their sunglasses at night. The late-80’s were even represented with DJ Jazzy Jeff-style track suits and House Party haircuts. I understand that there’s always gonna be trends and I’m usually going to miss them completely, but I thought that I already missed this one. The show was entertaining and the crowd was serious about being a part of the proper 80’s setting, so while their music has potential to drive away from the past, I’m sure that Love and Electrik are comfortable for now starting out with this new label and a core of devoted fans.

Love and Electrik were presented by Ideal Friends and played at the Modern on August 13.

THE Kings (of Leon)

by Laura Melvin

Dancing to a good concert is like good sex: you use the best in your repertoire, you don’t dance around with a lot of useless moves, and you finish feeling satisfied and a little like your legs are made of jell-o.  In keeping with this analogy, the Kings of Leon made passionate, sweaty love to—and maybe stole some virginities of—a sold out crowd at GM Place Saturday night in the first of two Vancouver shows. 

 

KoL did a solid hour and a half set of both old and new songs, effectively dehydrating and exhausting the crowd by the time they made for the exits.  With four albums under their belts—including the most recent installment in their discography, Only By The Night—the band had a long list of songs to choose from.  To those of us who have been following the Kings for years, we wanted a throwback to the earlier songs that first introduced them to us.  To newer fans, the older songs revealed some KoL history, introducing the newbies to the band’s first three albums and only strengthening KoL’s avid following.  The boys were smart and made sure that their most recent hits like “Notion”, “Use Somebody”, and “Sex on Fire” made it into the set list, which fans, old and new, much appreciated.  No matter what song was played, there was always a good portion of the crowd that knew the words.  At some points, lead singer Caleb Followill felt no need to sing—the crowd did it for him.

The stage setup was simple, but effective:  A decent light show and four big screens that flashed between shots of the band and graphics gave movement to the performance. In terms of actual the band’s movement, they aren’t particularly lively.  They’re not jumping around on stage, climbing on speakers, diving into the audience.  But, they still know how to excite a crowd.  KoL makes up for their minimal movement with passionate vocals and vigorous instrumentation.  That sweat on their brows is from pure talent and intensity rather than a sprint across stage.  These boys from Tennessee are about the music, not doing some cardio.

Check out UQ Events for upcoming events at GM Place and other Vancouver venues.

Wilfully trapped by Blitzen

by Nick Black

I arrived at the Blitzen Trapper show far later than I would have liked—I’d been unwillingly detained at my day job—and went straight to the bar to grab a beer: a fourteen hour day makes anybody thirsty. Fortunately, the openers “The Quiet Ones” were still on stage, so I was able to relax with my first pint and get into the mood for a live show. The Quiet Ones were a gratifying surprise, and a perfect fit for Blitzen Trapper. After they left the stage I went straight to the merchandise table; The Quiet Ones had impressed me so much I wanted a t-shirt. I immediately began haggling with the lady at the table, my argument was that the prices of the shirts were just a little high for my shrinking wallet; after all, I needed money for at least a second pint. Surprisingly enough, the lady said that if I wanted to haggle prices I should talk to “this man right here”. I turned to look at whom she was pointing at, only to find, to my embarrassment, that the man approaching happened to be John Totten, the lead singer of the opening act, and he was with Brian Koch, the drummer of Blitzen…

I shamefully stuttered my way through an apology, explaining that I really enjoyed the music and wanted something to take home. They were both very understanding and gave me a discount on a t-shirt. From there we went into a discussion about their respective bands. I informed them that I hadn’t loved Blitzen in the past but that the latest album made me really stoked to see them live. John told me that Blitzen are by far his favourite touring band.

I was sceptical to say the least, but as soon as they took the stage I could see why John would speak so highly of them. The show was very impressive, the highlight for me being when only three of the sextet were onstage for the song “Not Your Lover”, a Neil Young-esque ballad with nothing but piano, harmonica and acoustic guitar—it was amazing. Blitzen had the whole crowd gathered at Venue going throughout their entire set; everyone was on their feet and singing along, a sight not always seen in Vancouver.

To sum up, I suppose the moral of this story is beware who you haggle t-shirt prices with, you never know when you might make a fool of yourself. Having said that I realise that I’m probably the first person to ever complain about t-shirt prices at an indie rock concert… That’s kind of embarrassing.

Blitzen Trapper was presented by Sealed with a Kiss at Venue on July 30.

Blink’s Back—at least their good side is!

by Laura Melvin

It’s like they never left!  Blink 182 rocked GM Place Tuesday night for thousands of Vancouver fans, resulting in temporary attendee deafness as all good rock shows do.  It was a night of old school Blink, with minimal interference from their newer material off 2003’s Blink 182. Even after a six year “hiatus” (come on, we all know they broke up and only got back together because their side projects bombed), the boys played their classics with the same intense energy as they did when they first stepped on the scene.  The best of Dude Ranch, Enema of the State, and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket showed up in the set list: “What’s My Age Again?”, “The Rock Show”, and an encore of “Josie” and “Dammit” off of Dude Ranch, had Vancouverites screaming until they were hoarse with excitement.  Only a handful of their later songs showed up, much to my relief, and I fervently sang along until I completely lost my voice like the rest of the crowd—another good sign of an excellent rock show.

There were a lot of awesome elements to the show:  Mark had his signature pink guitar, Tom threw in his wonderfully inappropriate “I wanna f*ck your mom!”, the lights were seizure-inducing, and there was a weird angry bunny thrown into the set design. But it was drummer Travis Barker who stole the show and made it absolutely killer.  A simple “hi” into the microphone, a rarity for Barker, ignited the crowd into a frenzy worthy of maniacal, preteen Jonas Brothers fans.  But that was just the beginning!  The highlight was his over-the-top, one-of-a-kind drum solo.  Barker pounded the beat (and I mean POUNDED; he hits those things hard!) while he was harnessed to a suspended drum kit that revolved in midair.  If God was a drummer, I bet he’d do it like that!

For listings of upcoming concerts like Blink 182, check out UQ Events.

PREVIEW: Gomez: Best enjoyed live

by Nick Black

It’s not necessarily easy for me to discuss Gomez. My relationship to the band is like an unrequited love—or perhaps a love lost would be a more apt comparison. You see, I loved Gomez. You could say they were my first musical love, the first band I really fell in love with. Sure, I’ve always loved the Stones—they will always be my ultimate—but the Stones were like that older woman crush that you had on your second grade teacher, or one of your friends mum’s. Gomez was like my first girl crush when you were old enough to want to talk to girls, hold their hand, and maybe, just maybe, get a peck on the cheek. But then Gomez cheated on me; they went mainstream and lost all that had made me fall in love with them.

Yet, as with an ex lover, you can never quite forget them, no matter what kind of idiot they may be dating now. And so I have followed Gomez, despite my disappointment, and have seen them every time they have come to Vancouver to play live (four times now, I think). Though I may not like their newer stuff, the live show they put on is still second to none. The guys have been together long enough that they seem to communicate with each other through their instruments and nothing else, a slight change in lead guitar work will send the band, as one, into a whole different direction. Their 2005 release Out West (recorded live at the Filmore in San Francisco) is a perfect example of the outstanding live show they put on. Everything from the crowd interaction, right down to set list, is perfect. Not to mention their choice of covers: “Black Eyed Dog” by the underappreciated Nick Drake, and “Goin’ Out West” by the similarly underappreciated king of modern music, Tom Waits.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that although their last few albums have left much to be desired (which is a huge understatement), their live show will nail you to the wall. And, if you go to Virgin fest this weekend, the only bands that may be on a similar level will be the Roots and potentially the newly formed Spinarette. There is a reason Gomez takes the place of my first musical love, and seeing them live says it all.

Gomez is part of the Virgin Fest line-up on July 26 at Deer Lake Park.