On Saturday afternoon, the Japanese Hall in East Vancouver was swarming with people of all shapes, sizes, hair color and beard length to take part in BurgerFest 2014. The event promised an abundance of beer, burgers, and bands, and the organizers delivered splendidly.
The organic burgers were provided by Cannibal Café, an eatery located on Commercial Drive, and the beer was supplied by local craft beer heroes Parallel 49. With food of such high quality, one would think that the bands would have been equally as excellent, but they weren’t.
The vast majority of the 26 bands that played were so plain they were hardly worth the mention, so I will give you the best and the worst of the musical portion of BurgerFest 2014.
Barbecutioner, the second band to play, and was the best act there. The drummer wore short shorts and played at a dizzying speed without ever missing a beat. The bass player provided low growls to compliment the singer’s vocal range, which was nothing short of impressive with a mix of growling and clean vocals, and the occasional high pitched screech. Barbecutioner hit every spot; the music was great, their stage presence was second to none, they were hilarious, made a Trailer Park Boys reference… They were perfect.
The East Vancouver-based quartet Legion of Goons played thrash metal with a punk twist. Their drummer was so fast sweat was pouring down his elbows halfway through the set, and their lead guitarist provided just enough face-melting solos to surprise and amaze us all. Their songs were fast and precise and left the crowd smiling from ear to ear. The band’s energy on stage was refreshing, and the bass player dedicated a song to the late Dave Brockie, clinching a top spot in my heart.
Waingro, a heavy rock band from Vancouver provided a much needed break between Legion of Goons and a handful of terrible acts. They sounded superb live, ensuring that the bass wasn’t drowned by the bewildering guitar. The singer actually sang and had a good, almost soothing voice, and their drummer had a cheesy smile on his face the whole time they played. Waingro also saw the first moshpit of the day, and while they could have interacted more with the audience, they did draw a decent crowd regardless, pleasing the poor souls who had endured the mediocre bands before they got on stage.
The Living Deadbeats were the only band with female members that was worth a listen. The singer’s voice was pleasant and melodic, unlike what had been heard by other members of the fairer sex during the day. Of all the bands that played on the cramped stage, The Living Deadbeats were the most enthusiastic and seamless in the execution of their set, though they played later than expected due to unforeseen circumstances.
Precious Dudes’ music wasn’t great. I’m not even sure that it was good. The members were all a bit maladroit and shy. However, I could not peel my eyes off of their singer. He was wearing a midriff PVC jacket, zombie leggings and knee pads, spent the entire show humping the floor, the air, and his bass player at times, and slid on his knees across the stage on multiple occasions. Whatever the other musicians lacked in talent and timing, their singer made up for tenfold in showmanship.
Cake Face, the first band to play, was a girl duo comprised of a bass player who doubled as a singer, and a drummer with sub-par abilities. While the bass playing was excellent, the way she sang made the experience near unbearable. Little did I know that screaming unintelligibly was going to be a recurring theme throughout the day.
I learnt that it was Heron’s first gig, which explains some of their indiscretions. They barely interacted with the growing crowd, addressing the spectators only once to tell them that it was their last song. Their set-up didn’t make it easy for them to take interest in the people who were there to see them though, since the singer and the guitarist chose to face one another instead of facing their audience while playing, which just made it look like two grown men yelling back and forth at one another for half an hour. Musically speaking, they were excellent, and though the singer’s clean vocals were poor, their music was so heavy that it was barely noticeable.
Based on the name, I had high hopes for Sexy Decoy. However, all that vanished when they started playing. The singer was screaming into the microphone while jumping up and down like she needed to go to the bathroom. The drummer looked like she was utterly bored, setting a beat that no one seemed to care to follow. The whole thing sounded like four people jamming, forsaking harmony to look cool, which didn’t work visually nor aurally.
Last but not least, the absolute worst of BurgerFest was Supernatural River, a one man ordeal who successfully rained on the festival’s parade with his pretentious performance halfway between rap and spoken word art. He insulted the crowd on multiple occasions and ranted about capitalism before starting his backing track on his MacBook. The entire performance was a baffling joke, and most people sighed in relief when he left the stage.
BurgerFest delivered what it promised; there was beer, burgers, and bands. The whole thing was set up handsomely. With two stages, there was never really more than a few minutes between bands, though at the end of the night, the room did get hot, muggy, and it started to smell like the 16th century. Despite the lack of quality of some of the bands, the experience wasn’t wholly unpleasant, though those who arrived in the evening probably had a much better experience than those who arrived at noon since they didn’t have to hear all of the poor performances noted above to get to the good parts.
Written by Kai Robidas