The Vancouver “Sound”

I’m one of those people who needs to see live music, because I find it to be a salve for the soul. Nothing can substitute for the immediacy and the intensity of a live show, especially when it’s loud and you can feel it in your bones. And some bands are simply meant to be listened to in a live setting. I noticed that for the first time when I got free tickets to the Sounds of the Underground festival in Vancouver a few years ago. When I arrived, there was a band in the middle of their set and they were seriously rockin out. I was riveted, even though it was many hours before the headliners (like Lamb of God, Opeth, and Clutch) were on. When I found out the band on stage was local Vancouver-based Strapping Young Lad, I was flabbergasted. I’d heard SYL on the college radio station CITR and found the recordings to be limp. But the live set was astoundingly hot, and the lads pulsed with energy. For those who like a softer sound, the Grateful Dead was another example of a band that did not shine in the studio so much as live.

I think a lot of bands are like that. Now, I’ve never heard any No Means No recordings so cannot comment on their studio presence but I’ll bet they are one of those bands meant to be listened to live because they rocked the house last night! My friend Keith Rose (who plays with the Hard Rock Miners) is the tour manager for No Means No and got us some spots on the guest list for last night’s show in Nürnberg. I was psyched, even though we had just seen My Dying Bride two nights earlier in Nürnberg too and they kicked ass!

NMN played at the K4, which is a gorgeous old building right near the train station. The band was smokin’ hot. They are a three-piece (gotta love a tight three-piece) and their approach is right up my alley because the Fender Precision sound is clean and up-front and center. The bassist is the lead singer, and also happens to be the brother of the drummer so they are tight tight tight but just enough looseness to keep your butt shakin. The guitar player managed his sounds and tones really well. You could tell these three old chaps had been playing together for a long time. On stage they ooze confidence that is generally lacking from hipster garage rock bands.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the Vancouver “sound.” Some of you might know that I (Sunshine) am a bass player who has had the honor of jamming with some of Vancouver’s other old farts in the music scene like the guys from the Stoolies. I didn’t realize it at the time but now I do. Vancouver has a distinct “sound,” at least for the punked-up garage rock that the city seems to churn out (and appreciate) well. Listening to NMN, I heard some familiar elements in the vocal delivery, in the rhythm section, and especially in the attention paid to cultivating solid background vocals. That was something I never really understood that well until I played with a few musicians who were adamant about improving the background vocals. NMN’s background vocals added a lot of richness and texture to their sound. The audience would have noticed the empty space if they weren’t there!

NMN plays from a variety of influences including blues-rock, grunge and punk. They are a fun live band, so if there is a show near you I would highly recommend checking them out! Thank you Keith!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Rob says:

    Damn! I really enjoy reading your blog and I get really thursty everytime looking at the pictures of the beautiful beers you had (and also by reading your latest ratings), but now you've also got me nodding my head to my favourite band My Dying Bride! You're really living the life there in Bamberg, with a superb combination of fantastic beers and even better music. Makes me want to trade places for a couple of days. Well, enjoy the rest of your stay, happy birthday Sunshine, and perhaps we'll meet someday at a beerfestival or great concert. For now I'll just keep reading your updates.

    Rob/Borresteijn (RB)


  2. Thank you for the comments!


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