The Whiskey Dicks, Whitey, and Tom Fun Orchestra at Pub 340

Valentines Day is all but a commercialized holiday that puts money into the folks who created Hallmark. I enjoy a nice thoughtful card just as much as your girlfriend, but to be honest, I think I’m just a little jealous that I didn’t think of creating “cards for every occasion” in the first place (“Sorry your dog died”…open card…“But look on the bright side, you’ve always wanted a cat!”). As a result, I decided to boycott this festive holiday and instead drown my sorrows in work (work = drinking and watching a show). I got invited to watch Tom Fun Orchestra play at Pub 340, and how can I turn down an 8 piece rock band. Along with TFO, two local bands The Whiskey Dicks and Whitey kicked the night off in style (and when I say style, I mean alcohol).

The Whiskey Dicks

The Whiskey Dicks Comprised of Paddy Ernst and Zoe Robertson on fiddle, Facundo Bell on drums, Curtass Ernst (which I’m assuming is pronounced Curtis) on Cello, Ryan “enzo” Enns on vocals and guitar, and Dave Kornas on secondary guitar, The Whiskey Dicks have been lighting up a metaphorical storm here in Vancouver, and Whitehorse as well. They began their musical adventure just like any other band, in front of a Liquor Store. So it comes as no surprise how their band name arose, and the premise of their musical content. They’ve gone on various small tours, and on March 14th, they’ll be gracing the big stage of the infamous Commodore Ballroom for the second time. They have just released their CD titled “I May Be Wasted” and if they aren’t too drunk, they’ll release another one I’m sure.

I got a chance to catch these drunken musicians live at Pub 340 and what a night it was. Even though they opened the night, they stole the show from the other bands. The dance floor was packed with inebriated singles, skipping Valentines Day no doubt, who just wanted to have a fun night. The boys of TWD brought their entertaining Celtic music on stage and got the crowd to raise their glasses in the air with “Tha Drinkin Song” and even made me wish I was a little Irish.

Of course it wouldn’t be a night without cover songs, and TWD did an amazing job at that. They covered Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” and I was most impressed by their cover of Sublime’s “Date Rape.” Some people enjoy when bands make a cover an original, but in my mind, the real song was good enough to cover so why change it? And that’s exactly what TWD did with their Sublime cover because it was identical to the original. That got the audience dancing and singing a long, if they weren’t already, and that granted a loud ovation from the belligerent crowd. They continued their cover segment with Tenacious D’s “Fuck Her Gently” sung by Facundo, who did an amazing job at portraying Jack Black, as well as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” not something you would normally hear a Celtic band play.

Whitey

Whitey Back in February 2001, some friends from Chilliwack decided to form a band and with a few line-up changes throughout the years, Whitey was born. Comprised of Colin Watchorn on Bass/Vocals, Joe Matheson on Guitar/Vocals, Cole Graham on Trumpet/Vocals, Mike Kayser on Trombone/Vocals, Bryce Bennett on Sax/Keys/Vocals, and Paul Clark on drums, this six-piece has played with the likes of The Tea Party, D.O.A., Stabilo Boss, and Los Furios, just to name a few. With an EP and a full-length album under their belt, they are on their way to becoming mainstays in the Vancouver music scene.

They started their set off by stating that all their songs were dance songs. Now that’s a big statement to make, but they sure didn’t disappoint. They were all quite energetic on stage, but none more so than the drummer Paul, who was sporting a nice retro gangster chain, which undoubtedly rubbed off onto the audience, who were all still going after TWD set. At one point, a tiny little girl was perched up on the shoulders of a much larger man. I could foresee something horrible happening, possibly a decapitated head or worse case scenario beer spillage (hey no one wants to see beer get wasted).

The bands dynamic is quite interesting to be honest. They aren’t a typical ska band, but more of an orchestra transplanted into some heavy duty rock music. The horn section added a nice unique layer to the norm of every rock band, and I could honestly picture all their songs on the Tony Hawk soundtrack (man that game was fun).

Tom Fun Orchestra

Tom Fun Orchestra All the way from Sydney, Nova Scotia, this eight piece rock band is comprised of Robot Orbison on guitar/vocals, Carmen Townsend on guitar/vocals, Morgan Currie on violin, Dave Mahalik on accordion, Victor Tomiczek on banjo, Tommy Stallion on drums, Bert Lionais on trumpet, and last but not least Shane O’Handley on bass (wow that was tough to write!). They released their debut album “You Will Land With A Thud” in February 2008 and have since garnered much attention for their eccentric live performances. They’ve played to crowds all over Eastern and Central Canada, as well as Scotland and Ireland. TFO have even been recognized for all their hard work by being named Entertainer of the Year at The Nova Scotia Music Awards, as well as picking up the Galaxie Rising Star Award for Best New Artist. With all of this success, they decided to bring their show on the road and show the rest of Canada what they’re all about.

When they strolled into Pub 340, the stage must have looked incredibly tiny for their eight piece band. But that didn’t seem to deter them from giving it their all to a packed crowd. There was even a large line-up outside, where people were waiting patiently to get drunk and dance to TFO’s unique blend of indie rock. It was the band’s first time in Vancouver, and I’m sure they didn’t expect such a large crowd, but we welcomed them with open (and drunken…) arms.

My first impression of the band wasn’t their music, but rather their striking facial hair. It ranged from beards to moustaches, and kind of made me a little jealous (I’m Asian you see, and we don’t really have facial hair…whiskers more than anything). Aside from the facial hair, there was so much going on stage with eight members that I didn’t know who, or what, to focus on (I guess you could call it a clusterfuck).

The deep, raw vocal performance reminded me a lot of Tom Waits, but when they switched it up into a three piece rock band, they were reminiscent of Pennywise and Bad Religion. TFO’s set had everything from violin solos to accordion tunes, where they were able to display their multitalented members. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed this performance, and gave them a loud ovation when their set was finally over. With a welcome like that, I’m sure TFO will be back in Vancouver sooner rather than later.

For more information on The Whiskey Dicks, Whitey, and Tom Fun Orchestra feel free to visit their myspaces and websites.