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Music Picks

On a Quest for Homegrown Music Festivals?

Go your own 'Waste.'

By Elaine Corden 7 Jun 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Elaine Corden writes a pop culture column and music picks column on The Tyee. She regularly discusses music and media villainousness on her blog, Trifective.

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Precious Fathers

Vancouver's history with music festivals is spotty at best. Yes, we have the fantastic Folk Music Festival, and the Jazz Festival, and we recently had the marvellous and surprisingly enjoyable V-Fest...but these three are almost obligatory for any city.

Homemade rock-and-roll festivals seem to elude us. New Music West has appeared and disappeared over the years, but seems perpetually on the brink of giving up. Many local musicians I know have expressed frustration that New Music West is more about the bars and drinking than the music, that the diversity of acts admitted to play wanes with each passing year and that the music on offer is anything but "new." I myself have gone from looking forward to it and championing it every year, to, this year, not really being interested enough to head out to one single event.

Vancouver just can't seem to grow its own on the festival front. Toronto has Luminato, North by Northwest, Canadian Music Week and more. Pop Montreal and the Halifax Pop Explosion are tantalizing examples of city-identified music fests done right.

But what about us?

This weekend, the kids who run Only Magazine, alongside a host of artists who refuse to give up and move east for a lively arts scene, are yet again giving it a whirl with Music Waste.

Originally created as an antidote to the perceived corporate nature of New Music West, Music Waste has been around since 1994, but has really only taken flight in the past two years. Definitely anti-profit, the four-day fest comes at the price of a $15 pass (or no more than $5 per event), and boasts some of the most innovative and fresh acts the city has to offer. It's what an independent music festival should be.

Admittedly, I haven't heard of half the bands on this year's lineup, but the great part is, you half-suspect the organizers hadn't either before demos came pouring in when they set the whole affair up.

In all likelihood, there will be a few sub-par bands to endure of the weekend, but the point is, you won't know that until you get there. Then again, they might be the best thing you've heard from Vancouver in a long time. Imagine that: going out to see a show on the off chance that you might like it. It's just crazy enough to work.

All that said, shows to start off with tonight include Secret Mommy, Precious Fathers, Bible Belt (a.k.a. Chris-a-riffic) and Kellarissa at The Royal Unicorn (147 E. Pender), and the ridiculously monikered Bloggers at Pat's Pub (403 E. Hastings). For the rest of the weekend, though, I haven't got my schedule all planned out; I would recommend just wandering from venue to venue (all on the Downtown Eastside and within biking distance of each other) and seeing what grabs your fancy. Check out bands on offer at Music Waste's MySpace page if aimless wondering scares you.

Waste your time a little. The New York Times says it's good for you.

Is there a good, home-grown music festival in your town or city? Please share the news in the comments section below.

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