The Thursday, June 2 opener of legendary local festivals Art Waste and Music Waste was an enchanting mix of sights and sounds. The dreamy evening was hosted by Fortune Sound Club, and showcased eleven bands and over forty artists, all mingling together in equal parts strange and delightful ways. And not by accident! The theme of this year’s Art Waste was dubbed Strange Magic, and the group show was a pleasantly bewildering blend of forms and style.
Music and Art Waste humbly began in the year 1994, amidst local protest against the largely corporate festival, New Music West. Since then they have remained entirely non-profit and are run by volunteers, offering both festival-goers and participants a cozy, DIY experience. This year was no different, save for the slight pomp of Fortune Sound Club (stop charging for mandatory bag check, please!). The night was a whirlwind of synths, sweat and local art talent which I will be slow to forget.
When I arrived at the venue, bands had yet to start playing, so a jaunt around the downstairs art display was in order. There were works of art on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, sprawled on the floor and tucked away in corners—an artsy easter egg hunt! Some favourites of mine were Kai Choufour’s architectural installation, which seemingly floated a foot above the ground and emitted a mystical, highlighter-yellow glow. Also, Marika Vandekraats created what looked like sheets of shiny flesh, or perhaps women’s nylons made to seem slightly erotic. Three sheets of light tan-coloured fabric were hung along the wall, from nearly the ceiling to the floor, and were molded into peculiar forms at their mid-points, almost like casts of large body parts. I could not stop coming back to them the entire night, they were so magnetic. Other stand outs were Scott Lougheed and Bryce Aspinall, who were housed next to each other and who both created vibrant and playful works, with nods to the psyche. Aspinall used watercolours and marker on paper, and imagined tiny humans crawling and stretching between geometric shapes like a dream labyrinth. Lougheed’s piece used ink on two wood panels, depicting scenes reminiscent of Mario Kart on psychedelics. One included a friendly, but slightly put out-looking blob of pink putty walking through a silly brick archway, and the other a giant hand emerging from a similar archway, giving the sign for “hang loose”. Specific names aside, I could list every artwork here and still call them my favourites, since each piece in the show was a delicious addition to the theme of Strange Magic, and kept me wandering around the gallery the whole night through.
The Music Waste portion of the night was equally as engaging and strange, I would say. Booker T on Acid were the first act I managed to catch. The two members faced each other across their synths, synchronized in falsettos and head bangs. Their sound was akin to television feedback from outer space, maybe Mars, and their set was cheeky and noisy under the sparkle of the room’s disco ball. Second, I caught Plazas in a separate room off of the main upstairs space, reminiscent of a cosmic bowling alley. As always, she delighted the audience with sharp dance moves and direct vocals, layered overtop of her self-produced tracks—local talent incarnate. After Plazas, I made my way back downstairs and managed to squeeze in the last bit of Jo Passed’s set, which blew me away. My view was blocked by a pillar, but the many nodding heads and happy grins were my indication of a top notch show. Finally, my night ended with good ol’ Dada Plan. I’ve seen them play several times, but each time has been just as exceptional as the last. Their music was easy to get caught up in and had most of the audience bopping and grooving to the lush, luxurious soundscape.
After the final song, I left sweaty and smiling, content with my participation in Vancouver’s treasured local festival. If the opening night is any indication, the rest of the Music and Art Waste weekend is sure to be a delightful romp through the city’s smaller venues and artistic talent.
Art Waste ran from June 2 - 5 and Music Waste ran from June 4 - 7, 2016.