Gig/Concert: The Famines
Venue: Broken City, Calgary
Date: 8 January, 2010
Headliners: Verse Is Everything
In one word: Spillage
Calgary’s Broken City is known for its punkish/indie style. I had never been there before, as I usually stick to places that are within a few blocks of the C-train, but I was bored and felt outgoing. A dark little location downtown, it’s walls are covered with images, the bar is decorated with Christmas lights and a Mae West style couch tied the rest of the room together. In the streets of downtown it gave of an aura of acceptance and fun drunkenness. Not too shabby.
Fist City claimed that they hadn’t really performed before this, but you won’t know it from the performance. Energetic and fun, the female vocals hit high notes that contradicted their more masculine image. They had a peppy sort of appeal with dark lyrics. One of my favourite songs of theirs was called “Thalidomide”, a song about the infamous drug that could deform children. In it, they claimed to be suffering from such mutations.
For being both the first performance of the night and inexperienced, they were able to draw quite a number of people off their seats and onto the dance floor. I enjoyed their quick, upbeat and catchy tunes and how well they were able to connect with the audience. Good first show.
When the Wicked Awesomes! hit the scene, a decent sized crowd had already grown into something bigger. They had a neat alien sort of sound and performed as though no one was watching, feeling free to take off their shoes, roll on the ground with a tambourine and act erratic. They didn’t seem to care or notice when they knocked beer over onto their equipment. This may have been because they were so consumed by their own music, maybe because they thought we, the audience, could not possibly give enough to fuel them (not to say they were being rude or disrespectful), maybe both of these, I dunno. It just felt like they drew their power and force from some alternate dimension. Watching them was great, and I was impressed that the bassist they were able to grab for the night seemed to be able to follow their lead so well.
Besides the performance, the music was quite different than a lot of other music I have heard in the past few years – lyrics and titles like a sort of deranged poetry. They had a different kind of indie/modern/psychedelic sound that I could see myself taking refuge in. At the same time, the vocals had a sort of enjoyable flatness that I have seen in bands like Joy Division and New Order.
The last band I saw that night was The Famines. They had a certain je ne sait quoi in their performance, and they were aggressive without being scary. Packed with energy and violence, the minimalist two person band gave a performance you couldn’t take your eyes off of, like a fun and amazing train wreck. Near the beginning of the set the guitarist, Raymond E. Biesinger, kicked a glass off the stage into the audience, shattering it. Their rowdy and rough songs pumped out of their light-up amplifier and provoked the audience to throw beer and push each other. I enjoyed that they were able to create such an environment and I suppose Raymond did too, jumping in every once in a while. Furthermore, they barely took breaks between songs. The only times I can recall they did was when they asked for water and to introduce two of their songs. When they weren’t looking, people felt free to move the mics around, making their performance challenging for them. But the abuse the audience dished out through misplacing their equipment and smashing into each other the Famines served back a thousand fold in energy.
If we just consider the music and not the performance, it was quite a handful of basic post punk fun and I enjoyed it. I was happy that they were able to pull off such a sound with only two people. When they were done their set Raymond walked into the audience to join his fans, catching a cord on his foot and dragging his guitar through puddles of beer. When he was done with the crowd he silenced the last lingering notes of his guitar with his foot, while drummer Garrett Heath Kruger took a drink of his beer and allowed the glass to fall, smacking against the ground.
© Lindsay Goodwin
Who said lightning never strikes the same place twice? The Famines were on similar floor-crawling, beer-spilling form when Music Vice editor Brian caught them at Broken City in May, 2009 (review and photos)
The Wicked Awesomes! – www.myspace.com/wickedawesomes
The Famines – www.myspace.com/thefamines