Stanley Park Singing Exhibition

August 31, 2008
Day One

It was one of those lazy late summer afternoons that you could eat with a spoon. While most music festivals tend to have an anxious, apprehensive tension amongst the crowd, the grounds were covered by hippies, young parents, and even the occasional punk who were all sitting comfortably on the warm grass.

The Evaporators came on sharply, and started to stir up the crowd with their bare chested antics. Clad in white jumpsuits with red and blue stripes, Nardwuar the Human Serviette entreated us to a good larf, exposing his wooly chest, screaming lyrics about homelessness, and countless other acts of unconventional behavior. While the set list focused on their last album Gassy Jack & Other Tales, one could argue that what the band lacks in actual musical talent, they make up for in hilariously eccentric body play. Running through the crowd with maracas and a demented grin on his face, or climbing onto the audience to create a human piano stand, The Evaporators impressed us all with their relentless anarchist spirit. 

After the thrash, Deerhoof of San Francisco changed the atmosphere with their quirky alt-rock sound delicately coupled with the little-girl voice of singer Satomi Matsuzaki. Rocky but sultry, the quartet rocked out with classic songs such as “Twin Killers” and other tunes from The Runners Four. Their aural quirkiness was matched by their physical gestures, as Greg Saunier and John Dietrich plucked and played in what seemed like borderline seizure-type motion.

Destroyer’s performance was weird and cacophonic, but not in the way that most people enjoy that musical experiment. Dan Bejar’s lyrics of love lost and spiritual confusion were cryptic and challenging, but his voice brings to mind a love-sick, drunken hobo. Coupled with the guitarist’s unreasonable use of tremolo, this act left much to be desired.

While the fest had its share of eccentricity, Andrew Bird and Neko Case had an altruistic soothing effect to counteract it. Bird, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist from Chicago Illinois was intoxicating as the twilight began to set in. Singing beautiful things about intuition amidst a backdrop of cello strings and pizzicato violin, Bird was one of the best acts of the night.

Following him was Neko Case, who played songs from her upcoming album due out in March 09. While she belts it out with The New Pornographers, Neko’s performance was humbling and sweet, a familiar country feeling where the singer croons softly and laughs at herself between songs. She sang “I wish I was the Moon tonight” in a way that brought to mind a modern day Patsy Cline. Sad but spirited, Neko’s voice was endearing and humble to the core, and her lyrical component was touching as it revealed the wisdom of an old soul caught in the commercialism of the 21st century.

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