Once again, music will fill the streets of New Westminster with a line-up of lower mainland indie bands of various stylistic stripes courtesy of Uptown Live. The event will also feature food carts, and family events for everyone’s enjoyment.
Starting at 1:00 on Saturday May 25th after the Key West Ford Hyack International Parade, a cross-section of local musical talent from all over the Lower Mainland is set to entertain crowds, touching on a rich spectrum of musical delights. The event is a part of the celebrated 42nd Hyack Festival, and presented by Royal City Centre and Westminster Centre.
The event helps to place New Westminster on the map as a key location in the Lower Mainland for emerging, world-class musical talent. And local vendors will be ready to serve the public as the music kicks into high gear. In addition to the live bands, Uptown Live will feature the popular Flow Show, food tracks, BMX bike demonstration, and the Family Fun Zone.
So, that’s the skinny – but who’s playing? And what can crowds expect of each act set to grace three stages in New West’s uptown shopping district? Well, that’s a good question, and one that’s pretty easily answered. Let’s take a look at each act one by one, shall we?
The Boom Booms – “Two-Faced City”
Mixing rock/pop music with a Latin feel, this six-piece band based in Vancouver trades in energetic grooves and skillfully realized hooks. In addition to being a part of The Peak Performance Project, the band recently toured Brazil and have become involved in contributing to the protection of the Amazon rainforest, and the fight to preserve local communities living there. Their EP Make Dat Do Dat is available now.
Recommended listening: “Two Faced City”
Good For Grapes
Close-harmony, rootsy folk-rock is Good For Grapes’ stock and trade, originally hailing from just across the Fraser in Surrey. This band emerged out of casual busking collaborations that evolved into something special. Since then, their particular brand of Canadiana has taken them to the Vancouver Folk Festival, Live At Squamish, and even to the first season of Canada’s Got Talent. Their most recent record, Skipping Stone, is out now.
Recommended listening: “London Fog”
Known for the radio play of their effusively optimistic tune “Things Will Get Better” which you’ve heard on the aforementioned The Peak, Bend Sinister carries on the traditions of immensely tuneful rock music that bursts with joie de vivre. Based in Vancouver, and making waves as a stalwart live act, Bend Sinister is a band made for an open air festival like this one. So, here’s your chance, kids. And do check out their latest release, Small Fame.
Recommended listening: “She Lost Her Rock and Roll”
The Belle Game
The music of The Belle Game touches on echoey post-punk textures over a sense of melody that remembers the hooks. Describing themselves as ‘dark pop’ there are indeed some rainclouds to be heard in their music. But, rays of sunshine manage to burst through, creating an interesting sonic contrast. The band pulls membership from Vancouver, and from back east in Montreal, with their newest record Ritual Tradition Habit also being their first full-length album.
Recommended listening: “Wait Up For You”
If Kinks-esque rock/pop music is your thing, or even if it isn’t, The Shilohs bring the joy of top shelf rock songwriting that can be described as ‘rollicking’, designed to get you singing along. This is rock music fit for a good natured outdoor party, good people. In the meantime, if you’re so inclined, and you are, you should investigate their record So Wild immediately.
Recommended listening: “Man Of The Times”
Based in Vancouver, Buckman Coe takes acoustic pop and blends it with high plateau early ’70s period Stevie Wonder-esque grooves, creating hooky pop music with a spiritual conscience. Written in response to the proposed development of pipelines, environmental degradation, and to threats to local food growing, the Crow’s Nest ep is something of a concept album. But, this is not dull polemical music. You should come prepared to dance, friends.
Recommended listening: “Love For All Living Things”
Warren Dean Flandez
Having pursued an apprenticeship with former Marvin Gaye backup singer and keyboardist Checo Tohomaso, local R&B artist Warren Dean Flandez blends the ingredients of classic soul pop to contemporary 21st century textures. His skills as a vocalist have taken him to TV’s Cover Me Canada, as well as opening slots for Joss Stone, and – wait for it – James Brown! He released his debut album Vintage Love in 2011.
Recommended listening: “My Baby Comes First”
Sons of Granville
Another busker story that turned into something special, Sons of Granville is made up of two musicians on guitar(Matthew Lennox) and viola (Thomas Beckman), with a percussionist (Jarrett Plett). The resulting music? “Rock and classical got drunk and had a baby”. ‘Nuff said?
Recommended listening: “Swagger”
Singer-songwriter with chamber pop and folk-pop leanings delivers lyrical, string-driven music streaked with melancholy. Hailing from Nanaimo, Harper is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, and film score composer. Needless to say, his range as a musician promises a memorable set.
Recommended listening: “Rain”
The Big Mess
A duo that can be defined as out of the box, The Big Mess is a father and son team, with dad on trumpet, and kid on everything else, mostly his voice. That’s got to pique your interest. The music escapes all possible classifications. And what better place to hear it than in an open air festival?
Recommended listening: “Big Mess”
When violins and loop technology meet, that’s where Hannah Epperson’s music lives. Described as alternative folk, Hannah’s voice is a lilting instrument skating across pristine, icy surfaces of crystalline strings and subtle electronics. She’s opened for celebrated BC singer-songwriter Dan Mangan, as well as poet Shane Koyczan. Her EP Home Batch is out now, her first release of many more to come.
Recommended listening: “Murder of Crows”
Bananafish Dance Orchestra
Rhythm & blues, jazz, reggae, ska, and any music that relies on the beat and the effervescence of horn sections is where Bananafish Dance Orchestra lives. An 8-piece band gathered while studying jazz at Vancouver Island University, this band brings the funk with a jazzy swing in whatever they play. Wear your most comfortable dancing footwear, good people.
Recommended listening: “He’s Going Solo”
Shimmering with tuneful positivity, this acoustic duo that melds street folk with calypso flavouring have made impact enough for their song “It’s You” to be selected by Vancouver Tourism as the official theme song for Vancouver. Check out their full-length album Wreck Beach Records.
Recommended listening: “It’s You ”
So, that’s the lineup, everyone. Preview the tracks, and come on out to hear the music.
For more information about schedules and stages, check out Uptownlive.ca for details.
In the meantime, which bands are you most looking forward to seeing live? Tell us all about it in the comments section!