vancouver

Review: Live at Squamish.

If you know me, you know I love Weezer. Which is why I bought a ticket for Live at Squamish the second they announced Weezer would be a main stage headliner. Done and done.

And sure enough, the show was every bit as wonderful as they always are when I see them live. It was my fourth time in four years and for the most part, I’d expected that they’d play a lot of older songs because of the recent Memories Tour they’d been doing. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID! (Except nothing off Pinkerton… sigh.) They again had Josh Freese on the drums, freeing up Pat Wilson to shred. So radical! Anyway, I won’t go too far into details but I’ll highlight a couple of fun things.

I thought I’d end up going by myself since I couldn’t convince any of my friends to buy a ticket but! A friend of a friend saw my post on the Live at Squamish Facebook group, looking for carpools so she messaged me and here we are. Lindsey also brought a camera so all the photos here are to her credit. Cool!

It was also my first time seeing Metric live and holy smokes. Can Emily Haines ever perform! I think I developed a pretty substantial girl crush on her when she was kicking around on stage with those boots.

While the stage was being set up, Karl Koch, the band’s tech/social media guy, was putting around on stage, setting up cameras and what have you. I was, because I was so stoked and not because I’m a jerk, yelling at Karl the whole time. “Hey Karl! You’re awesome, man! Don’t let the man get you down!” Anyway, people around me had no idea who Karl was and I think I freaked out some folks with how much random Weezer knowledge I tossed out there.

Rivers, as per usual, jumped into the crowd with gusto! Except at one point, he entered the crowd from stage right and I couldn’t see where had gone. Then Lindsey started yanking on my arm and telling me to turn around. And this was what I saw. RIVERS! The closest I’ve ever been to shaking the man’s hand. Instead, I’m pretty sure I grabbed his mic and yelled, “HIP MOTHERF*CKING HIP.” Call it a spur of the moment decision. He was singing “Island in the Sun” and I guess that’s what adrenaline does to you.

(Sidenote: “Island in the Sun” had two music videos, one featuring a Mexican wedding and the other that has Rivers, Brian Bell and Pat Wilson playing with animals in a field. While I love both, I think I like the Animal Kingdom version slightly more if only because it’s cute to see grown men playing with baby animals.)

Anyway, the show was wonderful, Karl got me a setlist and I yelled into Rivers’ mic for “Island in the Sun”… I think it’s safe to say that’s a weekend well spent at Live at Squamish. Like that, my live Weezer quota of the year has been fulfilled. (But for real, I’m nervous next year will be the year where I have to fly to see Weezer play live… but ’til then!)

I’ll also leave you off with a clip of Weezer covering Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.” I’d written a post about Foster The People back in March so to hear my favourite band covering one of my favourite songs of the summer live in concert? It was pretty damn wonderful. Enjoy!

All photos on this page are by Lindsey Bolivar.

EDIT (Aug. 27, 2011): It’s been requested I post a copy of the setlist so here it is!

2011-08-21 Squamish, B.C. – Live at Squamish: Surf Wax America, We Are All On Drugs, Keep Fishin’, Perfect Situation, Pumped Up Kicks (Foster The People cover), Say It Ain’t So, Dope Nose, No One Else, Undone, Beverly Hills, My Name Is Jonas, Paranoid Android (Radiohead cover), Troublemaker, Hash Pipe, I Want You To, Island in the Sun.
Encore: Buddy Holly, Pork and Beans.

Feature: Kulth Festival, Coombs, B.C.

Kulth: The Little Festival That Could
July 16 – 17 in Coombs, B.C.
Featuring Ron Sexsmith, Stars, Aidan Knight and more.

By STEPHANIE IP

Anyone who’s ever been to a music festival will tell you that it’s pretty easy to make friends. There’s just something about camping alongside fellow music fans that does something to break down social barriers. As someone who attended their first music festival this year, I can vouch for that.

The Kulth Festival, however, wants to take that one step further.

The Music Festival Next Door

“What we’re trying to do is create an environment that’s a little more … community oriented. It’s a real grassroots type of thing,” said James Boatman, Kulth Festival’s music director. “We strive to make everybody matter.”

The Kulth Festival, which is in its inaugural year, is being held in Coombs, B.C., just minutes outside of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. July 16 and 17 will see the festival set up for two days of music, art and community fun.

“We want people on both sides of the fence to feel like they’re going over to a friend’s house. It’s something a little more intimate,” Boatman said of the festival’s approach.

The Kids Are Alright

Despite the selection of festivals to choose from in the Pacific Northwest – Sasquatch, Bumbershoot, Live at Squamish and so many other smaller festivals – Kulth knows that there is a specific niche of festival attendees who are looking for a family-friendly event and not a drunken four-day bender.

Boatman described the kids’ zones being set up near each stage where families can relax without missing out on performances. The festival’s organizers – many of whom have kids themselves – have also included children’s musical acts and family activities.

Keep It Green

Another interesting twist: Kulth also aims to be a completely environmentally sustainable festival. While many festivals include green initiatives into their organization, Kulth builds its identity on the Coast Salish land where it takes place.

“Picking a (Coast Salish) name like that brings in that we’re aware of where we are we are and our surroundings,” said Boatman, adding that the festival will not be selling bottled water, but instead, selling $4 re-usuable bottles and providing water-refill stations.

Additionally, the Nanaimo district has a “zero-waste policy,” which Kulth will be taking into account. Festival organizers will measure all resources brought into the festival and at the end of the weekend, all waste will be calculated, leaving organizers with an idea of how much waste was produced, a number that they will aim to lower in 2012.

“We would hope whatever people are bringing, they’re bringing reusable products … anything that would not be left behind.”

Keeping Famous Company

Although Kulth is young and will be competing against larger festivals in the area, their lineup is nothing to scoff at. Boatman, who has been in the Vancouver music scene for more than 15 years, had more than his fair share of connections to tap into when he agreed to become Kulth’s music director.

“We’re playing with good karma. We’re very lucky they said yes,” Boatman said of Canadian indie darlings Stars. Of the festival’s main headliner, the legendary Ron Sexsmith, Boatman added, “He’s just one of these guys that we think is a Canadian icon.” Other acts include TopLessGayLoveTeknoParty, Current Swell, Louise Burns, Memphis and Piper Davis.

“I think the island has a number of little festivals and we want to maintain this high quality of artists so we’re doing something a little different there. We’re going to bring in some bigger name artists,” Boatman said. His own personal highlight, however, is homegrown talent, Aidan Knight.

“He just blew us away. He’s the next thing,” Boatman said of his first experience with Knight at Canadian Music Week months earlier.

Aidan Knight – “Knitting Something Nice For You”

Starting At Square One

How the festival fares in its first year, however, remains to be seen. While organizers originally planned for 2,000 people, the city has since notified Kulth the festival grounds can hold close to 5,000. But Boatman is realistic and understands that it’s merely a “stepping stone.”

“We would be happy with under a thousand people. We understand it’s the first year,” Boatman said. “We just hope people come and we hope we do a good job for everybody.”

Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”

Tickets are available to purchase at Red Cat Records, Beatstreet Records, Zulu Records and Subeez Café. Adult weekend passes are $135; youth/student/senior weekend passes are $100. Adult single day tickets are $65 – $75; youth/student/senior single day tickets are $50 – $60. Camping prices vary. Children under 12 years are free. For more ticket information, visit http://shop.thekulth.ca. For more festival information, visit http://thekulth.ca.

Photo: Ron Sexsmith, Google Images.
Video: Aidan Knight – “Knitting Something Nice For You”, Youtube.
Video: Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”, Youtube.

Vancouver band Said The Whale’s gear stolen in California

Vancouver band Said The Whale is currently touring through California but unfortunately, have had a ton of their gear stolen. The lock on their trailer was cut off and thousands of dollars worth of gear was stolen. Because they’re still on tour and have a ton of shows coming up, they’ll need to replace everything while in the States. So if anyone can hook them up, please do so! Your best bet to contact them is via Twitter at www.twitter.com/saidthewhale.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for these items:

Gear:

  • CB snare drum (SN: 204656)
  • Simon & Patrick acoustic guitar
  • Harmony Sovereign acoustic guitar.
  • MicroKorg (SN: 018904)
  • 2 x glockenspeil

Guitar Pedals:

  • Ibanez Tube Screamer
  • Danelecro Daddio boost pedal
  • Electro Harmonix “Holy Grail” reverb pedal
  • Electro Harmonix “Memory Toy” delay pedal
  • Boss tuner pedal
  • Diamond bass compressor
  • Korg Pitch Black tuner pedal

Miscellaneous Gear:

  • An assortment of planet waves patch cords
  • Shure SM58 microphone

Fresh Roast: The Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar

The Grind serves espresso drinks, drip coffees, smoothies, and blended coffee drinks. Photo: Stephanie Ip

The Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar
Location: 4124 Main Street at King Edward.
Hours: Open 24/7.
Features: Gallery displays by local artists, free wi-fi.
Drink: Caramel Macchiato ($4.85)
Other: Espresso, drip coffee, tea, smoothies, blended coffee drinks, pastries, wraps, sandwiches.

I’m not really quite sure how The Grind became one of my favourite coffee spots but seeing as how I have a tendency to do trade sleep for meandering conversations about life, it definitely helps that The Grind is open 24 hours a day.

Where else to go?

When I usually head to The Grind, it’s late in the evening and either a friend is or I’m having a nervous breakdown. All we really want is a place where we can rehash our dismal mid-20s experience and brainstorm ways to find gainful employment and survive the carnage of romantic relationships.

Alisa Lokshin, 23, who seemed to be doing just that, likes The Grind for the same reasons.

“I like that it’s open 24 hours so you don’t have to worry about when it closes. You can just be like, ‘Oh, the Grind is open. Let’s go there,'” Lokshin said. “That’s most of the appeal ’cause most coffee places close early.”

Others who visit The Grind, do so because they are “hittin’ the grind.” Students filled the coffee shop on the night that I visited, with most of the tables covered with textbooks, notes, papers, and laptops. The shop seems small at first glance but the counter hides a whole other room that seems to be designated for silent study.

Grind it down

The menu is sparse but has all the necessary staples. Espresso drinks are available, as are drip coffees, teas, smoothies, and blended coffee drinks. While the menu isn’t exactly simplified for the sake of quality over quantity, it caters to the late-night crowd that just needs something to keep them going while pulling an all-night study session.

The same goes for their selection of food. The Grind sells wraps, pastries, squares, loaves, and cookies. While not of stellar quality, again, it’s enough to keep a hungry stomach going through the next few chapters of class readings. Everything is reasonably priced between $1.50 to $6.00.

The Grind features artwork and photography from local Vancouver artists. Photo: Stephanie Ip.

Recommendation

The Grind is definitely not the go-to destination for a coffee connoisseur, but it is a good place to sit and study for a couple hours, especially in the evenings and of course, in the middle of the night. Its location at Main and King Edward is easily accessible and yet, far enough away from the distractions of other busy corridors.

Their free wi-fi is helpful for those working off a laptop and the room in the back helps to separate those who are desperate for silent study time from those who just need a  place to chat late at night.

Keep checking back for the next stop on my whirlwind Vancouver coffee shop tour!

Featured photo of The Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar by Stephanie Ip.

Fresh Roast: Kafka’s Coffee and Tea

Kafka's Coffee and Tea sits on the Southeast corner of Main and Broadway in Vancouver, B.C.

Kafka's Coffee and Tea sits on the Southeast corner of Main and Broadway in Vancouver, B.C. Photo courtesy of Kafka's.

Kafka’s Coffee and Tea
Location: 2525 Main Street at Broadway.
Hours: 7 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. on weekends
Features: Hosts free monthly talks by local artists.
Drink: Vanilla Latte ($4.25)

While I had wanted to stop in for a while and soak in the feel of the place, I was left with only 20 minutes to check out Kafka’s Coffee and Tea. Probably a good thing since the day I visited, there was a small group holding a meeting in one corner and various others reading or studying at other tables throughout the busy shop. The mix of larger and smaller tables makes Kafka’s a great place to study with a group or read by yourself.

Keep It Simple

According to their website, Kafka’s Coffee and Tea is “serious about coffee and not much else.” This is apparent in their stripped down menu and simple decor. Their website details their motive in selecting coffee beans, buying only from smaller farms that don’t use pesticides or fertilizer. Kafka’s ingredients are all “purchased above Fair Trade Value to ensure good wages and working conditions for farm employees,” says their website.

Brew Methods

Their website also lists four brew methods that are employed at Kafka’s: pourover (regular drip), aeropress, syphon, and espresso. While a lot of places only prescribe to drip coffee and espresso, I like that Kafka’s has these other methods for coffee drinkers who are knowledgeable enough to know the differences and subtleties. (Which isn’t me. Maybe one day.)

Vanilla Latte

Having come straight from dinner at Lucy’s Eastside Diner, and about to embark on a two hour school board meeting, I needed some caffeine and sugar to wake up me. Solution! A vanilla latte. I was instantly pleased from the very first sip. While most people are accustomed to the sugary syrup of Starbucks, Kafka’s vanilla latte was definitely more flavour than sugar. Not to mention, they do that awesome swirly thing in the foam! I’m not going to lie — and why would I? — but their vanilla latte is pretty perfect.

A barista prepares a cup of pourover (drip) coffee. Photo: Stephanie Ip.

A barista prepares a cup of pourover (drip) coffee. Photo: Stephanie Ip.

Recommendation

Kafka’s Coffee and Tea seems like it’d be a nice place to kill a couple chapters of your book on a rainy day. Its wide open windows make the shop seem roomy and while I didn’t get the chance to do so on the day I visited, I’d love to just sit for an hour and study or chat over a well-brewed mug of coffee.

Keep checking back for the next stop on my whirlwind Vancouver coffee shop tour!

Featured photo courtesy of Kafka’s Coffee and Tea (Website).

Fresh Roast: Introduction.

Welcome to my blog series on coffee shops around Vancouver!
Keep checking back to read the next installment of the series.

Part 1: Kafka’s Coffee and Teas
Part 2: The Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar
Part 3: The Java Hut Bakery & Cafe

———-

Whenever I prepare a cup of coffee, I try to make sure no one is looking. Why? Well. It’s embarrassing. When people find out how many packets of sugar I put in a single paper cup of coffee, they look at me, horrified and ask why I’m not 300 pounds.

It’s true that I often sugar down the bitterness but maybe that’s a result of growing up in the Starbucks era, when caramel syrup and chocolate sprinkles are common. But extra frills aside, I love coffee. While I’m not a fan of crappy Costco-brand drip coffee, I’ll pretty much take anything. And as it turns out, the rest of the world loves coffee as well.

A fresh brew

The Vancouver Sun announced today that coffee prices hit its highest point in 14 years, with Arabica coffee sitting at $2.6225 per pound, according to ICE Futures in New York. The problem is that inventory of coffee beans in exporting countries have hit their lowest point since the 1960s when the International Coffee Organization began tallying stockpiles. Simply put, we’re slowly drinking ourselves out of coffee in this world.

“There is simply not enough coffee in this world,” said Jose Sette, executive director of the International Coffee Organization. The supply just cannot keep up with the demand.

Quantity over quality

With the market supply of coffee slowly declining, what does this say about the quality of our coffee? Keurig’s one-cup home brewing machines are quickly becoming popular, ranging from $75 to well over $250. These machines use cartridges of pre-measured ingredients to brew single-cup servings of coffee for those on the go. Starbucks’ line of V.I.A. instant brew coffee packages have also prompted coffee lovers to question the company’s true appreciation of the coffee bean’s quality.

While I’m not well-versed enough in the different varieties of coffee available, I drink enough to know that there’s a certain standard that needs to be upheld when it comes to making coffee. The espresso can’t sit too long. Ideally, the coffee pot should be warm before the brew starts to drip. And steamed milk? Well, it’s pretty easy to burn so you’ll need to watch out for that.

Coffee in Vancouver

All politics and economic exchange aside, what do I really know about coffee? Not a whole lot. I know where the most convenient coffee shops are in Vancouver and that’s about it. So throughout the month of February and March, I’m going to explore Vancouver a little by seeking out coffee shops that I pass all the time on my commute. I’ll sit in, enjoy a cup of coffee, take in the feel of the place, and tell you how it goes. Almost like a food critic… but for coffee shops.

So even though the world is running out of coffee, at least I’ll be able to find the quality coffee shops in Vancouver. And hopefully, the quality will make up for the lack of quantity.

Before you leave, check out this video I found on Vimeo a while back. It’s a 4:00 minute video that talks about the process of extracting espresso. I love the way it’s filmed, love the way he talks about the coffee, love the sights and sounds.

Featured photo by Daniel Hurst (Flickr).