Josh McNorton, Guitar, The Painted Birds
Photo credit: Stephanie Ip
The Nearly Famous Music Festival
The Painted Birds, Adaline, Hot Little Rocket
November 14th, 2008
The Anza Club
I’m one of those people who hate getting to the venue after the show has started. I always feel like I”m missing out on the first band or that I won’t get my money’s worth. In this case, I was very much mistaken. Not only did I get my $12 worth, but I felt like I should’ve been paying a full $45 for a seat at a classier venue. Not that I don’t love the Anza Club — I do! But Adaline and The Painted Birds definitely deserve to be playing much larger and nicer venues.
Stepping inside the Anza Club, you always get the feeling of being transported into your best friend’s garage, where the patch cords are all tangled up and you’re not quite sure if the fuse box will hold out. Hot Little Rocket was playing when I arrived — some solid musical chops but lackluster vocals. I guess after ten years together, you start to get a little tired. They are from Calgary, though. So maybe I’ll attribute their weak performance to the long drive.
Adaline, perhaps sensing the audience’s restlessness, took to the stage quickly. Despite technical difficulties, lead vocalist and pianist Shawna Beesley forged on , determined to deliver a show. Beesley’s luscious melodies, supported by a solid group of musicians brough to mind what Radiohead would probably sound like if Thom Yorke were a female. Onstage to help her out was her dear ol’ papa on violin and trumpet — can you say adorable father/daughter combo? And although she had just performed the night before at the Media Club and was partially suffering from a sore throat, the gorgeous songstress sang her heart out and kindly bantered back and forth with her friends in the audience.
A welcome sight and sound were the headliners — our very own hometown boys, The Painted Birds. Their recent two-month cross-country tour took them and their erratic, energy-driven rock away from Vancouver as they hopped from bar to bar and venue to venue. Perhaps a few more bars than venues, remarked guitarist Josh McNorton before the show. Nontheless, the Birds were glad to be back in town and it showed — they marched on, full-throttle, as if their bodies had never been away from the comfort of their own beds. If anything, their recent tour provided them with jokes aplenty to share with the audience — they weren’t embarassed about having placed East Coast shows where there were more band members than audience members. They were just glad to have their friends and family around to share those stories with.
As the night wore on, the energy continued to drive forward. Not only was this a celebration of The Painted Birds’ triumphant homecoming, but it was a celebration of Vancouver’s finest musical talent. Those who are jaded about the local music scene need only to peek within the doors of a venue where Adaline or The Painted Birds are playing. And they’ll begin to understand that “nearly famous” isn’t too far off the mark.
Originally published in the February 2009 issue of Grounder Magazine.