Vapid at The Railway Club

As much as I love going to shows, and listening to countless CDs, I can’t do it all on my own. As a result, I have enlisted some help from a very good friend of mine, Mace, who has an ear for music and a taste for live shows. I trust his judgment about bands more than I would anyone else, so here’s a treat for all of you loyal readers. He has gratefully accepted my invitation to review bands, and you’ll be hearing from him from time to time. Here’s his first article, and believe me, it’s quite the read. So enjoy!

A couple of months ago I wrote on my now-defunct website that local Vancouver grunge band Art of Dying were, and I quote, “the best live band in this city right now and I double dare you to prove me wrong.” Well it’s a good thing that I didn’t put my standard, oh-so-confident, million-gazillion dollar wager on that because my good friend Brie responded by sending me an electronic mail message, basically telling me to pull my head out my bum (gotta keep this thing PG for Ronatron) and take a gander at this right here! Did you watch it too? I know you did, loyal readers. And now you love VAPID as much as I do.

So let me pull on your coat about something! Grab some snacks and gather your friends around the monitor. Let me tell you all about the VAPID show last Friday night at The Railway Club.

First off, you might wonder why I am writing about the opener and not the headliner, The Tranzmitors. Well, I’d been trying to see VAPID for a while now and every time they would play a show something always came up and I wouldn’t be able to go. And each time things fell through, it only made me want to see them more. And then! Thanks to another hot tip from Brie (smartest woman in the world???) I went out and bought VAPID’s super limited edition clear-vinyl 7″ Do the Earthquake and had my mind completely blown out by its goodness. Don’t worry kids, word has it that they’ll be reprinted in black soon. So, yeah. I really only cared to see VAPID and that’s why I’m writing about them and not The Tranzmitors or White Lung (the other opener). If you watched the YouTube video I mentioned above, you saw for yourself how VAPID lead singer Katie performs on stage. How do you describe it? She’s an absolute whirlwind of motion. On Friday night – battling the tail-end of pneumonia for crying out loud! – she still shredded those vocals and gave it her all. Note to members of other bands who might be reading this: that’s called heart. If you’re not playing with it, you can learn a lot from catching a VAPID show. Katie’s voice is great, and she has a stage presence that is wonderfully alarming (a thrashing, mascara and blonde-haired explosion in Jackie O outfit complete with fancy shoes). Oh, and did I mention she’s very gracious to her small-but-growing legion of fans? I asked if there was any way I could find out the tracklisting for the gig for this review, and she ran back to the stage to get me a setlist. How nice is that? It’s a crime that this band so obscure in it’s own city.

The guitarist for VAPID is a guy who goes by the name ‘No More’ and simply put, he rocks nuts. He’s got that ultra-cool, head-down, get-down-to-business style and he’s very, very good at what he does. There are too many punk bands out there that sacrifice speed and accuracy (or simply aren’t capable of either) for jumping around and generally acting like an arsehole on stage. There’s a place for that for sure, but not at the expense of the music and like The Clash, this band is very, very conscious of how they sound both in the studio and on the stage. No More and bassist Caroline’s relative calm are a perfect counter-balance to Katie and drummer Benny’s hurricane, giving the stage a sense of still-chaotic equilibrium that is awesome to see.

And speaking of Caroline, my good friends, I’m not going to get into the whole girl-on-bass stereotype here. People overtly love a girl-on-bass with the same passion that they secretly love Boy Meets World. And it’s been written about a thousand times! But what I want to say is that Caroline from VAPID is amazing. You could say she’s the Topanga of punk-rock bass playing. Like the rest of the band, she plays fast and she keeps excellent time. If this band was a pool, she’d be up the No More end for sure, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t spend the whole set dancing, singing excellent back-up vocals and generally having every bit as much fun as the crowd. Like the other three, she’s a musician who’s playing at a level that you simply do not expect from such a relatively young group.

And last-but-not least, Benny on the drums is everything that a punk-rock drummer should be; effing fast and he keeps time like a watch. Of course, from its inception punk-rock has always been much more about playing fast than playing accurately, but lucky for us that Benny can do both, and with a tremendous amount of skill as well. It’s not a stretch to say that punk drummers have one of the hardest jobs in all of music. The position has been likened to driving a car with no brakes at extremely high speed because any major slip-up by the drummer can essentially derail a whole song. There is simply no room for serious error and thanks to Benny the VAPID set was tight with no discernible mistakes made.

All-in-all, the show was amazing. They opened with their jagged-edged, grinder of a b-side Victim and ended the night with the much poppier (and bum-shakier!) first single Do the Earthquake. The songs in-between ran the gamut from fast to really-fast to ultra-fast with each song clocking in at under two minutes just like they should. Other tracks like Whore, So Far Gone and I Don’t Love U kept the crowd moving. I suppose that if I could have one wish it would have been for a longer set, but this band is so new they haven’t even had the time to record a full-length album yet. And also, I have to keep reminding myself they were the show-openers and not the headliners that they one day will be.

Oh, and before I forget, I’ll bet you a million-gazillion dollars that one day the earthquake dance will be every bit as popular as the chicken dance.

So that’s it! My first review for Ronatron. I hope you liked it. And I REALLY HOPE you go see VAPID (and White Lung too!) They’re amazing and they deserve your love.