Tonight Denis Lacroix, bass player with Whitehorse indie-punk rockers +/- Standard Deviation, will be opening for one of his favourite bands.
“This is it,” he said with a smile. “I’m going to quit music after this. I mean why not? I will have accomplished everything I set out to do when I first started playing music.”
(Way to go, Denis. Check next week’s classifieds in the Yukon News for his gear.)
Like Lacroix, when I first heard NoMeansNo would play in Whitehorse I couldn’t believe it — in fact I was in denial.
I’d heard things like this before.
I thought: “Yeah, sure, NoMeansNo is playing, and Rod Stewart and Kelly Clarkson will open the show.”
And I took it in passing.
But a few weeks later, sure enough, the word was still out there and the Frostbite Music Society teamed up with Triple J’s Music Café to produce the inaugural Sunstroke festival.
The stars had aligned.
For those readers who don’t know NoMeansNo’s work, there is going to be a fine opportunity for you to embrace the sounds of a Canadian punk rock institution Friday night.
I hate to classify them as only punk rock, as genres can be so limiting. I’ll do it anyway, for now.
While living in Victoria, BC, I had many chances to watch these guys perform live and have laughed, smiled, frowned, danced, sang, drank, sworn — but never cried or overpaid.
The band got its start in Victoria in 1979 when brothers Rob Wright (bass guitar and vocals) and John Wright (drums, keyboards and vocals) put their talents together to work as a duo.
In 1983, John Kerr (guitar/vocals) joined the brothers, and then was replaced by Tom Holliston in 1991.
In all the band has released more than 20 albums and EPs.
The trio may have flown under the radar for some, because its tunes aren’t played on the radio (at least not before 11 p.m. on off-campus stations).
And because it’s early work was classified as “Devo on a jazz trip” or “Motorhead after art school.”
John Wright’s tempo-shifting jazz-styled drumming takes listeners on a percussion holiday, while Rob Wright’s looping, heavy — yet melodic — bass keeps listeners interested and focused.
Holliston’s lead guitar serves to guide and accent some very complex songwriting.
Lyrically the three address topics from yuppies in Victoria to Wiggly Worms with both serious connotation and a light hand.
Their songs are full of contradictions — happy/sad, Wright/wrong/right — and the battles between good and evil and rich and poor.
Bottom line — it’s some good ol’ jazzed up punk rock n’ roll. Got it?
Sunstroke is a chance for any Yukon music lover to hear something different than the likes of April Wine or Chilliwack.
In fact, it may be the last chance to hear NoMeansNo.
Whitehorse is one of the band’s final stops on its final tour.
The years of satisfying fans with its innovative brand of aural assault have nearly ended.
With one era coming to an end, it is time for new young Canadian bands to come to the forefront.
This Sunstroke Festival is a great opportunity for local groups to showcase their talents.
That’s one of the main reasons the whole festival was created in the first place.
The brainchild of Frostbite’s David Prodan and Triple J’s Music Café’s Jordi Mykeli-Jones, the festival has been long in the works.
After successful ventures together in the past, they decided it was time for a summer festival, the main goal being to create an annual all-encompassing, multi-cultural event.
With Frostbite moving its base of operations to Shipyards Park and l’Association franco-yukonnaise holding it’s St-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations there during the same weekend, the location choice was only logical. Isn’t that why the park is there in the first place?
The line-up for this year’s festival is chock-full of local talent and Yukon favorites like Crash The Car, Kate Weekes, Gordie Tentrees, Ivan Coyote, Rae Spoon, the always fun Death in Venice and Heather Loewen & The Daily Special.
Post-grunge rockers Fullers Earth, hip-hop impresarios Raw Element, the gritty sounds of Scotch, the metal of Nemesis, the haunting power of Drifting, Friend Called Five, the always electrifying +/- Standard Deviation round out the 12-hour event.
NoMeansNo brings up the rear, slated to be on stage at 10:30 p.m.
If you’re reading this article, finish it, and then come down to Shipyards Park.
The show started at noon, but goes right through until midnight. There will be food available from Tony’s Pizza and the Filipino Association and a beer garden for the big kids.
Lighting will be provided by the midnight sun. You can have all this for the amazing low price of $5.
Check it out.