Column: Chilling curbside among astromen

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

Hot, tired, ears still buzzing from a night of sonic exhilaration, we sat on the curb outside the Starfish Room, stretching our legs while making small talk with Star Crunch.

It was July 1996, and Crunch (aka Brian Causey), was the singer and guitarist for the sci-fi surf rock trio Man or Astro-man? from Auburn, Alabama, which had just taken a Vancouver audience, including me, my brother and several of our buddies, on a rip-roaring journey through space and time, complete with space suits, projected visuals and a stage full of retro special effects (think Tesla coils, laboratory monitors, random wires, etc.). Prior to their sensory assault, my fellow travellers and I were scouting the merch table for vinyl or CDs from the opening act, The Subsonics from Atlanta, Georgia, whose sound could be described as low-fi rockabilly/surf/Velvet Underground-in-a-high-speed-blender.

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After the concert, I managed to speak with Crunch, Birdstuff (drummer) and bassist Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard, letting them know my brother was a fan, we’d driven from Kamloops for the show and he’d be thrilled to say hi. Minutes later, we were all seated on the curb, exchanging words while cooling down in the summer night air.

I’ve been listening to people share their favourite concert experiences on the radio and started sorting through my own. This one stood out above all – the perfect mix of family, friends, exciting live music and a post-concert chat with the band topping it off.

I’ve seen a fair number of concerts, from coffee shop gigs to big stadium shows. I prefer the intimate settings, like the long-extinct Starfish, where artists can connect to their audience. This brings to mind another memorable night, when Canadian musician Patrick Watson, and opening act Plants and Animals, played the Salmar Classic. Watson had just won the 2007 Polaris Prize for the album Close to Paradise. A fan of the album and the band, I was thrilled when I got to interview him prior to the show and then see him play the Classic. Watson and company did not disappoint.

I missed being at the fairgrounds this year for Roots and Blues, and I hope we’ll be able enjoy more memorable musical moments in 2021.

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