by Vanessa DeRenzio
As I walked down East Hastings towards Pat’s Pub at 11pm, I found myself wondering if this trek into the most rundown part of Vancouver was going to be worth the $5 Poles concert I was going to be seeing as a part of Music Waste. I walked into the slightly crowded bar, got my giant wreath stamp, and sat down and waited for the show to start.
Poles themselves were quite the spectacle -fronted by dress wearing Scott Budgie, a Garth from Wayne’s World look-alike Cam Mesmer on bass, and a “normal” looking Matthew H. on drums. The crowd was instantly excited when the post-punk band started playing, and I could tell that this was going to be five dollars well spent. As a large group rushed to the stage, the Poles experience began.
From the quirky appearance of the band members, I should have guessed that the music would be quirky as well. Heavily influenced by bands such as Bikini Kill and Wipers, their grungy, barely understandable lyrics were surprisingly complemented by their crisp, coherent instrument playing. While they definitely embrace punk aspects, they also have an intangible quality to their sound; something I had never heard before. I leaned over to ask my friend if he could put his finger on it, to which he responded “I don’t know, they sound like Poles”, which is really the best way to sum it up.
The relatively young crowd, while very into the music, didn’t do much to show it. Everyone was fairly silent and no one sang along or danced. The large group at the front of the stage stood and stared, as if awestruck, and everyone sitting down was doing the same. Even the band didn’t look overly enthused. While it seemed somewhat strange, I had to keep reminding myself “the lead singer is wearing a dress”, and it all seemed to make a bit more sense. They definitely have a cult following.
For the majority of their thirty-minute set, I was waiting for the one song I do know – Merman. The music video features Scott floundering around in the icy Vancouver waters with a mermaid tail, so I was more than ecstatic to hear the song in all its glory. Poles used it as their final song, and the monotonous crowd brightened slightly, as they seemed to know the song too. It’s not something you can sing along to, but it was fun to hear live, and nice to realize that Poles sound quite similar to their vinyl.
Music Waste definitely did everyone a favour by choosing Poles to play in the festival. Their punk sound and strange appearance on stage provide an entertaining show to say the least. See them June 11 at LanaLou’s. Spend the five dollars! You won’t be disappointed.
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written by Vanessa DeRenzio
photos by Vanessa DeRenzio
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