Despite my overall discontent with the Olympics being here and initial decision to keep away from the patriotic crowds of sheep--free music performances exist nightly all over town. While most of the acts appeal to those who are not myself, I felt if I was to document any part of the circus, it should be Bedouin Soundclash closing the opening Friday night.
Although the price tag was favorable, part of me wished it'd been a paid event, only to minimize the amount of freeloaders congregating around Ontario House upon our 9:20 p.m. arrival. I'd been uninterested, unaware and admittedly ignorant to the fact that the pavilion was offering an indoor atmosphere for the performance. Had I known, I may have avoided it altogether, thinking one wouldn't get in, arriving 40 minutes before showtime.
I'm unsure how long all the minors in the crowd had been there waiting in anticipation before word got around that the event was 19+. Overall organization seemed poor, as most youngsters had no clue, not to mention security's last-minute scrambling at how they were going to usher hoards of people into the building. A couple guys nearby jokingly exclaimed that the Quebec tent was offering free poutine and prostitutes in hopes of detracting some from the crowd. All things considered, I weighed my options and concluded that we'd already forked out enough for this two-week spectacle; therefore, the last thing we need are hookers' Olympic premiums (free fries or not). Luckily, barely, my friend and I made the cut of 670 guests.
From the moment I stepped foot inside Ontario House I was taken aback. It wasn't anything like I'd expected. It was much smaller than I'd envisioned, looking at the thousands of blue-and-white wire curtains on the walls outside. The atmosphere was delectable. As overindulgent as the handfuls of large HD wall-sized screens, 3D televisions (3D without the need for glasses?) and floor-to-ceiling glacier display were, I was thrilled to be there documenting the event and left any distaste at the door.
The Ontario Minister of Tourism introduced the band and thankfully things started off without a hitch. The sound--complemented by the array of spotlights and hi-def computer graphics surrounding both band and spectators--was pristine. I had to do a double-take to ensure it wasn't the Sandinista!-era Clash up on stage as "Bells of 59" and "Living in Jungles" painted pictures of punk rockers lost in a Jamaican sea of influence. Their ska backbone was prominent as frontman Jay Malinowski plugged in his Telecaster and the opening chords to a brand new tune were heard.
"12:59," a tune that induces chills with every listen, played almost exactly an hour behind its title's stamp. My arm hair stood and a lightness in my chest developed only moments before they segued from Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" to the crowd favorite "When the Night Feels My Song," closing the evening's set.
Hundreds of stomps and chants yearned for more. Our rude boy brethren returned only after a brief pause. Now, I'm unsure what Jay could have possibly meant earlier when I heard him say "You gotta love Wayne Gretzky for saving Canada tonight." I stood puzzled as much as I hope everyone else was. I didn't realize we had been saved, let alone during the opening ceremony. What I could relate to is when he now mentioned "it feels good to be in Canada tonight." Olympics or not, I couldn't agree more. Not for the games, but simply because I was privileged enough to be in Vancouver enjoying well crafted rock 'n' roll on a warm Friday night. That's all I can ask for...and more.
[Originally posted at West Coast Weasel blog]