Spotlight Carnival at The Cellar

Photos by Alex Ramon

The best part of the Vancouver music scene is, well of course it’s the music. There are so many talented bands here it’s ri-donk-culous, so on any given night, you can go to any venue and find a piece of Vancouver talent just brewing some concoction to please our ears. On the other hand, where do you house all these musical geniuses? With the closure of Richard’s on Richards just on the horizon (something I’ll write about in the near future…) where are all these wonderful bands going to play? Of course there’s a new place opening up called “The Venue,” but considering the opening date has been pushed back substantially, bands are just going to have to busk for money on the corner of Robson and Davie. Or they can play at the tiny hole in the wall where homeless people SHOULD piss in, also known as The Cellar (or as I like to call it, The Crapper). An up and coming band that goes by the name of Spotlight Carnival had to climb deep into the basement of this little shit hole and play a half hour set (it was more like 20 minutes, but who’s counting right? Oh wait, that dick on the soundboard was…) that gave them just enough time to get the crowd pumping and wanting more.

Spotlight CarnivalSpotlight Carnival is comprised of Cole MacKinnon (guitars, keys), Nicholas Jones (vocals, bass), Johnathan Vanderby (guitars, keys), Nick Stecz (drums), and Karly Warkentin (vocals, guitars). This five-piece had the passion to play, but unfortunately the circumstances at The Crapper didn’t allow them to showcase their music to the fullest. From what I saw, I can only tell you they have the potential to be the next indie-darlings of the Vancouver music scene, but if they play at The Crapper one more time, or if anyone does for that matter, their musical career will be short lived, not because of their music but because of the disrespectful Crapper sound guy.

Aside from my obvious hatred for this venue, SC actually impressed me. Throughout the night, they were promoting their three song sample CD that could be easily obtained from the back for a measly “free” dollars. But it wasn’t the free that caught my ear, it was the music they were playing up on that cramped stage. Karly, Nicholas, and Johnathan all provided a nice vocal layer to each song that produced some wonderful harmonies. Granted the P.A. system was horrible (to the point where I couldn’t hear a single word they were saying), the melodies drove each song and tried to captivate the stadium rock genre into the little bar atmosphere.

I closed my eyes and listened to the music, but every time I opened them, they were constantly drawn to the beautiful and talented Karly Warkentin. It wasn’t the fact that she was drop dead gorgeous (OK maybe that had something to do with it), but it was her happy feet that caught my attention. She would constantly be moving around in her cowgirl boots, and even when she wasn’t singing she was still that fiery energy ball that lit up the entire band. Every member fed off her passion and performed like there were hundreds of people in the audience.

Like I said before, this was a set cut short by a power tripping sound guy, so for the sake of entertainment (and a way to release my frustration), I thought I would write this article. There is no doubt that Spotlight Carnival is much better than what I saw at The Crapper, so as a consolation, visit their myspace for a taste of what you might hear the next time they play at a good venue. If you have any comments regarding my views on The Crapper, feel free to write it down at the bottom of this article.