REVIEW: Else­things Festival with Raleigh, PrOphecy Sun and We Are Phantoms Again

While East Vancouver celebrated the demise of a beloved venue with abandon, a smaller gathering in the West End launched an unexpected new haven for fun-having. Though it certainly wasn’t the first show hosted by Googly Eyes Collective, Elsethings Arts Festival—a collage of performance, film, art, and cozy hangouts—was charged with expectation, light, and new beginnings.

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REVIEW: Oneohtrix Point Never live at W2

Trippiness is a strange musical currency; value is so often predicated on the mind-altering substances consumed by its listeners. Having arrived stone sober at W2 to see Oneohtrix Point Never (Brooklyn-based Daniel Lopatin), this reviewer admits she was only adequately captivated by the synaptic soundscapes on offer Wednesday night. But as someone’s grandma might say: better to be challenged than bored.

Best records of 2011

Nguzunguzu – The Perfect Lullaby. A labyrinth of stripped-down loops and beats referencing ’90s R&B chart-toppers and Angolan kizomba & zouk in equal measures. Truly the only possible way to enjoy eight hours trapped in a Mozambican airport.

MYTHS – MYTHS. Supercharged electro-noise with a semi-psychotic swagger. First caught them opening for HEALTH and they’ve been terrifying me ever since. “Deadlights” is basically Alice Glass squared.

REVIEW: Lightning Dust / Hard Drugs split 7″

Crafted by a pair of local boy/girl two-pieces, this split seven-inch pressed on white vinyl has a dark side and a goofy side—both of which may cause you to unwittingly sing in public.

First up is Lightning Dust, one of the many successful side projects spawned by hometown stoner-rockers Black Mountain. Amber Webber and Joshua Wells explore their ‘80s goth-pop side in the moody, half-whispered affirmation “Never Again.” With quiet beginnings, the track swells into several timpani and thunderclap-accompanied moments fit for a particularly tragic scene of a John Hughes flick.

REVIEWS: Performers coax laughs from love and death

It’s no surprise to last year’s Fringegoers: Martin Dockery is neurotic and hilarious.

Following his Pick of the Fringe win for the monologue Wanderlust, Dockery delivers a new barroom tale of travel, relationships, and the occasional experiment with hallucinogenic drugs. This time he’s adventuring through the ancient Cambodian temple Angkor Wat with his German girlfriend, and visiting his stiff but successful father in Vietnam.

Like a true Brooklynite, Dockery quavers with anxiety, flaps his hands wildly and raises his voice in excited crescendo as he delivers each morsel of acute observation. Dockery is searching for meaning in every sentence – giving the impression he’s conquering inner turmoil in real time.

REVIEWS: Houdini story unshackled at Fringe

Monster Theatre’s latest biographical production recounts the life of the King of Vaudeville. Equal parts illusions, melodrama and gags, Houdini’s Last Escape reveals that behind every great man is a great woman—not to mention some seriously awkward mommy issues.

Tara Travis plays Houdini’s loving wife Bess, along with a dozen or more cartoonish side characters. Travis steals the show and gets the crowd roaring with well-placed eye rolls, while Christopher Bange tries out his cache of card tricks as the show’s protagonist. Written and directed by Fringe favourite Ryan Gladstone, the script is dense and surprisingly dark.

REVIEW: Giant Invisible Robot

Occasionally Jayson McDonald takes a moment to breathe, but it’s pretty rare.

In his imaginative one-man show Giant Invisible Robot, McDonald seamlessly weaves through an arsenal of fun-to-watch characters, beginning with a neglected kid named Russell.

Russell’s BFF is the play’s namesake—an oversized tin can of destruction, capable of flattening Chicago during a particularly boring afternoon. McDonald jumps forward and backward in time and across storylines to build up their lifelong relationship.

REVIEW: Little Orange Man

“OMG let’s go ride BIKES!”

It’s a familiar refrain for anyone who has grown up with Attention Deficit Disorder. Performer and co-writer Ingrid Hansen makes it an actual ukulele-accompanied chorus in the inventive tragicomedy Little Orange Man.

Hansen plays Kitt, an over-stimulated schoolyard loner with a wild imagination. Having won over a team of impressionable “kinders” with grampa’s gory fairytales, Kitt is poised to take on the dream world (with a little help from her audience).

REVIEWS: Adventurous acts get site-specific at the Fringe Festival

A crash-landed spaceman and beached whale named Martha make sensible companions under the glow of golden Christmas lights.

This oddball participatory comedy crafted by Seth Soulstein is a two-hander, although the crane makes three.

Clad in silver spandex, a wide-eyed Soulstein proves his improvising chops. Never does he break character—even when a wayward space egg nicks a nearby car. (In the universe of public drama, one has to be prepared for anything).

REVIEW: Tyrana horse — ghostwolf mother hawk: prarie unicorn lion lioness

As both the band name and album title might suggest, Tyranahorse’s debut record is the deformed lovechild of many musical creatures. Though elements of rock and indie folk are perhaps most prominent, it’s the seemingly unscripted ventures into vintage psychedelia and noise that make ghostwolfmotherhawk: prarieunicornlionlioness such a majestic and untamed beast.

REVIEW: The Magician and the Gates of Love – The Singles

The Magician is a far cry from the balding “illusionist” that probably showed up at your eighth birthday party. Though he has been known to bust out a card trick or two at his live shows, Nathan Moes (and his new backing band the Gates of Love) are the real deal.

Drawing noticeable influence from Belle & Sebastian, the Unicorns, Ben Folds and the Flaming Lips, the Langley quintet’s follow-up to Moes’ debut EP Who Will Cut the Grass When I’m Gone? is a work of honest showmanship, sans smoke and mirrors . . .

REVIEWS: Have a cigar with Sigmund Freud’s psyche at the Fringe Festival

Ryan Gladstone is Sigmund Freud, and so is his co-star Bruce Horak.

The pair of local Fringe vets are flawlessly synched as Self and Ego in a lively journey through the subconscious mind of the cigar-chewing father of modern psychology. With only an hour left to live, Freud and his embodied id embark on a hilarious quest of self-analysis . . .

REVIEW: Jaill – That’s How We Burn

Creative spellers and Milwaukee four-piece Jaill sound like the type of band that “practices” rather than “jams.” Every song on their big label debut That’s How We Burn fits into a cohesive garage-pop aesthetic; the riffs are watertight, the drum licks indestructible. Never mind improvising — everything from lead singer Vincent Kircher’s conversational melodies to the subdued hints of Wisconsin twang — feel polished and calculated . . .

fish tank

REVIEW: Andrea Arnold – Fish Tank

Katie Jarvis never intended to appear in movies.

The now 18-year-old highschool dropout was discovered on a scummy East London subway platform while embroiled in a venomous spat with her boyfriend. With that in mind, it is no surprise the unlikely star bursts with raw teenage malice in the role of Mia, a young and underprivileged outcast living in a disheartening British slum . . .

REVIEW: Rob Pruitt – Pop Touched Me

Pop Touched Me is a self-conscious reflection upon artist Rob Pruitt’s implausible journey through fame and failure. From gallery-hosted flea markets to 101 test-driven art ideas, it seems oddly fitting that Pruitt’s playful and often participatory exhibitions have been immortalized in glossy coffee table reading. Now celebrated for painting shimmering panda bears, Pruitt was once excommunicated from New York’s art scene for a supposed racist homage to black American culture. (Evidently he and partner-in-crime Jack Early were terrible rappers) . . .

REVIEW: Arctic Monkeys – My Propeller

The third single to follow up last year’s full-length album Humbug, My Propeller solidifies the band’s departure from its faster, more furious roots. Gone are the days of upbeat, angular party songs about scummy men. Instead, the Arctic Monkeys have crafted a croony collection of melancholic commentary on shitty bars, wasted evenings and arguably frontman Alex Turner’s penis . . .

REVIEW: Delhi 2 Dublin – Planet Electric

Depending on your perspective, Vancouver-based Delhi 2 Dublin is either a brilliant free-thinking experiment in ethnomusicology, or a confused jumble of all things “other.” Mashing up languages, instruments and styles from several far-flung corners of the globe into one electrified melting pot, D2D’s sophomore release Planet Electric ranges from slowed-down dubby atmospherics to hyperactive bhangra marathons . . .

REVIEW: Yukon Blonde

Innovation and artistry are often touted as the ultimate pillars of indie achievement—which is probably why it’s difficult (at first) to get excited about a standard, well-executed pop record like Yukon Blonde’s eponymous debut. Like a vintage flannel shirt, the sound and aesthetic are consciously derivative. But the Vancouver-based indie poppers have conjured enough reflection and polish to make their ’60s rock-inspired album a worthwhile listen.

REVIEW: Sufjan Stevens and Osso – Run Rabbit Run

This is not really a Sufjan Stevens album. And it’s not really new, either. Run Rabbit Run is a sometimes-epic classical reworking of Stevens’ 2001 release Year of the Rabbit, composed and performed by Osso: a New York-based string quartet. Like the original, Osso’s interpretation offers an entirely instrumental take on each year of the Chinese zodiac calendar . . .

REVIEW: Art Deco Jewelry by Laurence Mouille­farine and Évelyne Possémé

The year is 1925. Times are good, skirts are short, and Parisian aesthetes are rocking bling so extravagant it would make Lil Wayne blush.

This is the heyday of Art Deco. With an ample appreciation for geometric shapes, editors Laurence Mouillefarine and Évelyne Possémé attempt to explain why so many Hollywood stars and fashionistas traded their traditional diamonds and gold for chunky onyx and platinum. The book also offers insights as to why the movement’s excesses eventually spelled doom for jewelry hucksters when the twenties suddenly stopped roaring.