Missing Starla at Pat’s Pub

Photos by Alex Ramon

With Virgin Fest done and over with, I want to take this time to get back to my roots and give back to the community that spawned my interest in music. Yes I’m talking about the Vancouver music scene, and oh what a joy it is to attend local shows. After going to all these high profile festivals, it’s just nice to sit back and relax in a bar and watch one of the many local talents we have in this fine city. Missing Starla is just one of the handfuls of bands that stand out in our music scene, and I had the great opportunity to watch them perform live a few days before I left for Toronto. Yes I know it’s been a while, and with time you forget a lot of the details, but to be honest, I can still remember every little aspect (ok well maybe not EVERY aspect because that would just be freaky…) so it’s hard to forget a band like Missing Starla.

Missing StarlaWell this is the paragraph where I talk a little bit about the band, something you may or may not have heard about them. But to be honest, I don’t know much about them either. What I do know is I used to work with their drummer, Glen Schwarzfeld, at the good ol’ VPL. He was a young lad then, full of spirit and passion, and when he finally stepped out into the real world, he became a man. He subsequently cut his long shaggy hair and joined a rock band. And that was the last I heard from him, until about a few months ago when he contacted me and realized I was the “Ronatron” everyone was talking about. Small world we live in eh? But of course Missing Starla isn’t just made up of Glen, there are others that round the line-up. There’s Victor Hugo Cobian on guitar (no I did not make a spelling mistake on Cobian, it’ not Cobain so no relation to Kurt…), Jamey Adirim on vocals and guitar, and Jeff Gabert on bass.

This quartet has played in various high profile shows, including New Music West, and is one of the new up and comers in Vancouver. I actually saw them once before at Cafe Deux Soleils on Commercial Drive when they played a benefit show for the World Partnership Walk. One of the harsh realities of starting up a band and playing a show is, well to be quite frank, they have to play with other not so great bands. I’m not sure what they were called, but they were one of those scream-o bands, where there is no exact note the singer hits except for overdrive. This band was up first, and I was a little hesitant to stay and watch Missing Starla do their thing, but I ended up staying because after all it was a benefit show and I was there for moral support for Glen. What I didn’t realize was how completely opposite Missing Starla was compared to, let’s call them scream-o-holics anonymous. I wasn’t planning on writing any sort of review at the time, but I really wanted to and when Glen contacted me about a possible article, I did not hesitate in accepting his invitation.

Missing StarlaMissing Starla played a small set at a nice little comfy pub in the heart of crack head central called Pat’s Pub. The stage was tucked away in the corner of the L-shaped room, and was as big as the desk I’m writing on. The lighting was atrocious for Alex, my photographer, and the sound was as good as my garage, but the boys in MS didn’t mind at all. Like the true professional musicians they are, they got up on stage and played with their hearts on their sleeve with alcoholic sweat dripping off while rocked out with their metaphorical cock out. This review isn’t biased by any means because I know Glen personally, but it might be biased because they bought us a lot of beer. So a word of advice to all you bands seeking reviews from “Ronatron,” buy us lots of alcohol and we’ll be your best friends (we don’t accept money and we don’t get paid any other way, so getting us drunk is definitely a bonus… just sayin’).

But in all honesty, if I didn’t know Glen and if they didn’t buy us lots and lots of beer, I still would have had the same admiration for MS. I was utterly speechless when I watched Victor play his various guitar solos. Hands down, he is one of the best guitar players in Vancouver, if not THE BEST. His fingers moved faster than my eyes could follow and the solos he was coming up with left me dumbfounded. Jeff was also in the same league producing bass riffs that I couldn’t imagine. At some points, he would even add a little distortion and it just seemed like a higher being had some great plan to just put that one little bass distortion there. Jamey was also on par with them, especially when it came to his vocal abilities. You wouldn’t pick him out from MS as the front man, but when he steps up to that mic, you just know he’s going to blow you away (no that wasn’t a dirty joke…). And away in the back, there’s Glen nicely tucked away from the spotlight. However, that didn’t stop him from shinning and coming up with solid beats that still kept the band in time. If I were to specify a genre for MS, I would have to say they’re folk sensibility, mixed with a little alternative surfer rock, if that makes any sense. And that’s truly evident in their song “San Francisco.” When listening to them, I could just picture myself all Ben Stiller like with my surf board chilling with Jack Johnson’s crew, whilst rocking out to Missing Starla.

If you do get a chance to catch Missing Starla in action, you will not regret it. And a word of advice, just tell them you’re there to “write a review” and they’ll just supply you with hookers and blow. They’re just about to go on a little mini Western Canada tour, so check out their myspace to sample their music and see if they’ll be in your area.