New Music West 2008 – Final Day, Part Two

Okay kids, I’m back with the final installment of what I experienced during the New Music West Festival this year. Keep in mind that I was only able to catch sixteen bands out of about two-hundred and fifty so yeah, NMW is a pretty big deal around these parts. Hopefully by this time next year there will be even more local music websites in Vancouver and between us all we can write about the vast majority of the good folks that come all the way to the Rain City just to play for us. On with the final two reviews!

Scram C Baby

The Penthouse – 12 midnight
If there’s one thing I never do at shows or around the handful of celebrities I’ve run into (Robin Williams and ‘Pin’ from Neon Rider!) is lose my shit like a fanboy on Free Comic Book Day. I’m usually so concerned about bothering people from bands that I like that I often don’t even tell them that I liked their show even if they were only the opener. So why am I telling you such intimate details about myself, gorgeous readers of Ronatron.net? To better illustrate how much I love the band Scram C Baby from Amsterdam of course! After their show at the Penthouse on Saturday night, I marched my ass right up to the bass player from the band, wished him the happiest birthday ever and then proceeded to GUSH and GUSH about how much I love his band. Seriously, I went off! “You guys are amazing! AMAZING!!! Oh my GOD! Your drummer is psychotic! I can’t believe!” And then it was into the “Where can I buy your music? WHERE?!?!?!” So I got directed over to some guy who took me over to their secret merch hiding spot (it wasn’t even on display) where I purchased their newest studio album, and their live album as well – also known as the best purchases of my life!

Okay, I gotta calm down and do this damned review. I have to try and pack the best hour of music I heard all festival into a couple of paragraphs and try to make them not suck…okay. Here toes. <--- not a good start. Scram C Baby hit the stage at midnight after Man Party's disastrously amazing set and to be honest I really didn't know what to expect. I had heard a track or two on their MySpace and I figured they were pretty good, but I was really looking forward to the last band of the night, Do the Undo. REGARDLESS, Scram C Baby plugged in and opened up such a cacophony on the audience that my friend Sarah and I were literally shocked. Standing off to the side of the stage in a totally unassuming manner, their lead guitarist transformed into a live wire as soon as the first song took off. Think Angus Young from AC/DC and you'd be in the right ballpark. But nobody - with the exception of possibly Geert de Groot, the lead singer - could hold a candle to the absolute savagery I witnessed in their drummer. And dig this kids, she was very, very sick according to de Groot. If that's her on an off day... So what did they SOUND like? Well, not punks, but a sound very similar to the earliest Clash recordings. With the exception of maybe Southern Death Threat, Scram C Baby played with considerably more speed than any band I saw at the festival. And not just speed but urgency. They brought to the gig a level of professionalism and showmanship that I simply had not seen up until that point. They carried themselves not as a new band at all, but as one that frankly could give a rat’s ass whether you loved them or not. They seemed to be playing music not for the people in the room, but out of a sense of compulsion. Like they have something to say and there is no medium other than the rock/pop/punk genres that will do the job. And for an hour I kinda felt how the punk kids must have felt in London in ‘77. I think it would be safe to say that, for me at least, this band really were the band to see at this year’s New Music West.

Do the Undo

The Penthouse – 1am
DotheUndo Do the Undo were booted off the stage at 2am sharp by a Penthouse employee who marched up to the soundboard guy and did that Sopranos gesture where you make a tabletop out of your fingers and then draw your fingertips across your throat. What can only be inferred by this gesture is that a) if the band doesn’t get off the stage after the next song, they will be decapitated.

I guess there isn’t really anything else can be inferred from that gesture. Either way, I think Do the Undo were ready to wrap up their exceptional set by this time anyway. Rocking another Gibson SG – a favourite instrument of the festival this year – and a keyboardist sporting a shirt that stated “A city built on rock n’ roll would be structurally unsound.”, Do the Undo really served up an excellent show. Truth be told, I was in the Penthouse on Saturday night strictly to see Do the Undo, a band that I had originally planned to see last Thursday, but there was a super-disappointing lineup change. Not that their replacements were a let-down, it’s just that I had really, really liked the songs I’d heard online before heading out to the show and then it was canceled. Boo!

However on Saturday night, after hearing Scram C Baby, I was a little concerned that they would be somewhat lackluster after what we had all just witnessed from their fellow countrymen. These fears, however, were quickly dispersed. Lead singer Anne Soldaat has a very unique voice (and accent) and frequently channels Thom Yorke from Radiohead, although he’s not whiny like Yorke tends to be. As an introduction to his home city of Amsterdam, Soldaat quipped, “We have the Red Light district, of course, you know. But I never go there. My parents wouldn’t approve.” Also outstanding was keyboardist Thijs van Duijvenbode, who proved himself to be as versatile a keyboardist as anyone I’ve seen thus far, switching from honkey-tonk to church-organist-on-speed at the drop of a hat. Like Scram C Baby, this band has the confidence to make ample use of vocal harmony, something that I personally did not see much of from the North American bands. Although I usually prefer my Scandinavian bands to sound a little more poppy like the Shout Out Louds and The Cardigans, and despite Do the Undo’s obvious strong American influences, I would have to say that this foursome were the perfect band to end the festival. Songs like “Wildlife” are the perfect songs to end anything on, really: a year in school, a crappy job, a relationship, anything. I only wish that they would have had some CD’s for sale so that I could have gone home with a bunch of music from Amsterdam.