The dusty corners of Vancouver music
// Colin Spensley

I come from humble beginnings: seeing a torn black-and-white photocopied poster for an all-ages punk show being held in the local community centre, my teenaged self stared in wonder at what would soon become a life-long passion.

I have always been a fan of music, but like most people raised on their parents’ collection of dubbed tapes and dusty records, my knowledge of anything outside of The Beatles’ White Album and Creedence’s Clear Water Revival was nonexistent until I purchased my first Sony Walkman in grade school. Albums that now make me shiver in repulsion nearly deafened me on the playground of my elementary school, but not until my fourteenth year did it become a lifestyle as well. And it all began with a poster.

Some touring punk acts took the stage as I huddled in a corner, not knowing what to expect or how to act. Although quite the amateur, I learned quickly what was accepted in a small town all-ages scene. Drinking was frowned upon, but circle pits while smoking cigarettes were encouraged.

After that first night, live music consumed my life. Every weekend, my small group of friends would hitch rides with our parents to whichever Legion or community hall was hosting that night’s show. With all that came my love for underground bands, the stuff that felt like only I had heard, as though the burned CD in my hand that I bought at the merch booth was made just for me. The obvious progression was for me to try and host my own night of music. Having complete control over who played and how much money was charged was, of course, a rush, but nothing could compare to throwing caution to the wind and letting go of everything, bodies crashing into each other like armies struggling to hold their own ground.

Many of the touring bands I saw included some of Vancouver’s best: The Doers, You Say Party We Say Die, and Fun 100 absolutely floored me whenever they blessed our town with their presence. My uneducated view of the Vancouver scene was that of a strong, tight-knit community with more talented bands then I could care to imagine. So, when it was finally my time to move on with my life, the big city seemed like an obvious choice for me.

To take my aspiring music career across the Georgia Straight didn’t seem like much of decision until I landed, starry eyed and fresh, with my guitar in hand and the wonders of the city stretched out before me. Things didn’t happen quite as easily as I had expected: there were the bigger names I had expected to see, acts playing at larger venues like The Biltmore and Vogue Theatre. But where were the crammed basements and dirty warehouse spaces I so pined for? This seemed like a secret I had to extract from someone ‘in the know’.
As intimate and inclusive as the scene seemed to be, it was also very inviting. Before long, I seemed to have met the right people, and everything opened up before me. It didn’t matter how new and uneducated I was: as corny as it sounds, it truly was about the music. So for the past three years, this is where I have been: standing in the crowded basement, smoking on the curb, and realizing there is no-where else I would rather be.

The Vancouver music scene is a vibrant one, yet all corners of it are not provided with the exposure that they deserve. From the three day music festival, to the scuzzy Eastside dive bar, I will drink it all down in stride and what comes back up is for everyone to read and judge as they will.

From the dusty warehouse, to the shimmering light shows of a Commodore rock odyssey, all my dreams came true. Places where you can be who you want to be, do what you want to do, and see what you want to see. Everything comes alive inside of you when the only thing you care about is the stage in front of you and the sounds exploding around you.

// Colin Spensley

Colin is a music journalist who is, put simply, Tom Wolfe without all the acid. His favourite movies include Uncle Buck, The Room and Dick Tracey. After spending a summer in an isolated mountain valley he feels like getting back in touch with reality through writing. He has a large collection of records, paperbacks and keychains.

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: