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Fierce Creep at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang
Fierce Creep at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang

Sat. Nov 24, 2012 at Chapel Arts, Dunlevy St.

Six nights rolled into one.  It’s a great way to describe the 30 plus band fundraising festival, Facefest, put on by local East Van rehearsal studio, Faceplant.

Now in it’s 17th year of showcasing local, independent bands, Facefest, in the past, had problems finding a venue that could have all the bands (and egos) in one night.  But this year, an old funeral parlour turned art/performance space, the Chapel Arts went beyond everyone’s expectations. With two floors with bars, art, projected visuals, and live bands that night was definitely one of the best festivals of 2012. If you missed it, there is always next year. Below is an overview of the one of the best underground festivals of  2012 by a few of the sober Skinny writers that night and a highlight of bands to watch out for in 2013. (Keep in mind that all thirty bands had only 15 minutes to impress us.)

Horny Hands at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang
Orchard Pinkish and His Horny Hands at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang

Tanya Van:

Ex-members of Jones Bones, bassist Denis Maile and drummer Carl Baird of Fierce Creep took advantage of their 15-minute set and slaughtered the audience with their fusion of hardcore punk and sometimes funk sound with new singer, Sara, leading the pack. Capturing the audience’s attention with the goofy, gumby like moves Denis Maile does on stage, makes this band fun to watch and or dance or whatever you choose. Sara, having previous experience in a cover band, told me she can do a solo version of “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett. Izzy and Lisa from Ron Reyes’ band Piggy should take this girl out to karaoke.

The Rain and the Sidewalk, Trevor Thompson’s baby, was a solo performance that night.Singing and playing guitar over prerecorded house music, he played to a frenzy. TRATS is my Facefest favourite and must for me. The Rain and the Sidewalk is not everyone’s cup of tea, but those that love the music are lucky. I feel lucky. Fifteen minutes went by quick but he played my favourite song of his, “Harmless” (a dark song where Trevor bemoans why he is so harmless and how he would rather be a psychopath.)

Rain and The Sidewalk photo by Tanya Van

Trevor, an otherwise quiet guy off stage, really opens up and lyrically self depreciates on stage. He ended his set with a version of Judas Priest’s “Love Bites.” Dark and dance is two words to describe TRATS as it celebrates the slightly disturbed or the often ignored. It came off especially creepy that night with the black and white projected photos of past Facefests, some of him and his bandmate Shannon who moved away. A creepy good time.  Click here to check out their website.

Rene Milord:

Arriving early to the Chapel I took in the splendor of this magnificent venue with two big rooms and upstairs art gallery complete with bar and couches to relax upon.  Patrons started arriving slowly as I checked out the first band Tarantula Head - a trio who rock mightily with a sort of prog rock groove.

Gold Stars For Suckers at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang
Gold Stars For Suckers at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang

The songs shift from hard to soft in a wacky fashion, love it. Gold Stars are for Suckers played a fun set of powerpop/glam rock They have been around a few years now coming from other combos like Eastern European rockers Waltz Darling and Celtic rockers, the Town Pants. Gold Stars got everyone dancing to their cover of “Psychokiller” by Talking Heads. Catch them live at the Railway Club they seem to play often.
Gold Stars Are For Suckers on CBC
Gold Stars Are For Suckers on VanMusic

Right after Gold Stars, I managed to catch the Psychonauts, who played a ripping set of dirty ass punk tunes and then Soulsucker; another trio who played that night who had  aspects of Iron Maiden and Rush to their sound but it’s not really metal... it's a real rhythm groove.

Psychonauts at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang
Psychonauts at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang
After a bit of mingling, I headed upstairs to the gallery to check out the Jazz Holes.  Now this is a surprise: two members of Aging Youth Gang with a guitarist and a narrow stand up bass playing funky jazz with trumpet!  They are quite good and I must see them again.  The next band I caught was the lewd and wild sounds of Eddy D and The Sex Bombs!  Eddy really is funny with his one liners and the swinging rock they put forth makes you want to groove.  All of these mentioned are worth watching out for and quite a few from the fest on YouTube click here or one of these below:

Dave Bowes:

It was announced as Kentucky Womanizer’s last show, a bit of Johnny Rotten humour since it was in fact their first. Burlesque dancer/filmmaker Calamity Kate provided the visual sizzle: the old grinder on metal bra and panties trick, a cutely awkward shark’s head and dismembered leg for their punky cover of “Echo Beach”, a Snidely Whiplash ‘stache and enormous flaccid penis for “She’s My Man”. (Points for style: the dismembered leg doubled as a beer bong). Kate is new to this band thing, so a tentativeness when it came to her musical contribution is understandable. She will no doubt grow into it. The music fronted by bassist/vocalist Troy Zak and guitar vet Scott Farquarson was Briefs, Ramones; straight ahead good time old school punk. Pro but having fun, this is a band to look for in the future.

No denying the Liquor Kings are old dudes, which makes it doubly amazing how they routinely school musicians half their age in the art of rockin’ the fuck out. The band was tight and high energy rollicking through a handful of their hooky originals, including “I Want It”, “Hit You Hard” and “One Way Ticket”. As always Mike Laviolette’s guitar work was ripping and Eddy Dutchman was entertaining as fuck to watch. If the music industry wasn’t so ridiculously youth obsessed, these guys would have a real chance of making it. As it stands, they will remain our awesome little secret. If you haven’t seen them, make a point of it. They are impossible not to like.

Little Guitar Army has become something of an East Van institution; a novelty band that evolved into a rock juggernaut guaranteed to rip it up every time. The Chapel Facefest show was no exception.  The new dual drum configuration seems to really add some punch. The addition of Dirty Kurt of Real Mckenzies fame on guitar and shenanigans doesn’t noticeably improve the music, at least not yet, but sure adds yet more chaotic showmanship to a band that, fronted by the lunacy of Bert Canetti and Cal Thompson, is already no stranger to it.  Noticeably absent was co-lead singer Mellow Friesen, who though back from a maternity leave from the band, is still apparently a sometimes proposition. While she does bring great chops and charisma and an entertaining interplay with Bertman, and many would have liked to see her, there was still more than enough rock on stage to kick ass through a set highlighted by the already classic “You Cant Fix Stupid” and “30 Watts to Freedom.” The near capacity crowd ate it up and made it a satisfying conclusion to a highly entertaining Facefest.  Watch LGA’s video!


Seana Bins:

One of Facefest`s high points of the evening, Soulsucker`s style is difficult to put a finger on. They are a little math rock, a little proggy, but mostly because they are technically proficient at their instruments and have intricate parts. There is a musicality that transcends genre and makes it more than just the sum of its parts. The energy and enthusiasm they put into their songs is straight-up punk rock. This three-piece put more energy into their 20 minute set than most bands can fit into a full-length show. Soulsucker has played only a handful of shows, but they are creating quite a buzz. An  up-and-coming band that deserves some serious attention and yes, they are brothers. LIVE from Facefest on YouTube click here.

Aging Youth Gang at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang
Aging Youth Gang at FACEFEST 17 - photo by Linda Stang

Aging Youth Gang, (Aged Youth Gang, Ancient Youth Gang), despite the self-deprecating humour, these four guys can rock harder than most bands half their age. After twelve years with the current line-up, they have developed a chemistry on stage which allows them to rock through their set with ease. The songs are well-crafted little numbers, catchy punk rock that makes it difficult to not be drawn in. The energy they put out on stage Saturday belies the fact that this band has, collectively, over two centuries of rock under their belts. They are proof that even in punk rock talent and experience can trump youth. Visit Aging Youth Gang on MySpace click here.

The last band to take the stage Saturday night upstairs of the Chapel was The Furniture. Scheduled to play at midnight, they awaited the arrival of their drummer, Lana (of LanaLou`s and of Ten Days late) and took to the upstairs stage just as Little Guitar Army was stepping off stage downstairs. It was well worth the wait. The psychedelic garage punk rock this three-piece blasted was catchy and had the crowd actually dancing. Aramis` vocal melodies cut through Johnny`s hooky guitar licks and the bass lines, blending together nicely into a unified sound, propelled by the hard-hitting and snappy rhythms of Lana. The Furniture ended the evening on a very high note, indeed.

For more click The Furniture on CBC.