Clubbing with/for Family

Parts and Labor

Last night we went to our first club in Van­cou­ver. This town has a ton of them, but we were out at the Lamp­lighter because my cousin B.J. has a band, Parts and Labor that was on tour through­out the US and Cana­da, and last night was his stop in Van­cou­ver.

We got there right at 8PM, which was when the evening’s bands (there were to have been 3 of them — we found out that ‘The Fatal Fly­ing Guil­lo­teens’ had to can­cel) were to have start­ed. Not even close. After a lit­tle while, B.J. walked in from the rear entrance. His band had just got­ten over the bor­der an hour or so ear­li­er. While the three of us attempt­ed to do the near­ly impos­si­ble in Gas­town, which is find a restau­rant open after 9:30 PM, we got caught up.

By the way, it’s a fun­ny thing, but restau­rants do close pret­ty ear­ly here, lead­ing many res­i­dents to say that this town should be nick­named ‘No Fun Van­cou­ver’. I have to admit that we’ve been caught out too late with­out hav­ing got­ten din­ner on a cou­ple of occa­sions, and have had to set­tle on Denny’s or Sub­way, two chains that tend to be open late. For­tu­nate­ly, the Denny’s near us is actu­al­ly not bad at all, unlike the ones I’d been to in the States.
B.J. filled us in on the tour. It had gone well, despite the fact that this morn­ing they’d had their first or sec­ond flat tire of the trip, which is always a has­sle. It’s a gru­el­ing life, being in an indie band on tour, and it’s not at all glam­orous, despite what any­one may think. It con­sists of dri­ving for hours (some­times ten to twelve at a stretch), arriv­ing at the gig, eat­ing, unpack­ing the gear and instru­ments, per­form­ing, sleep­ing (usu­al­ly at friend’s hous­es), and then doing the whole thing all over again, day in and day out for a month or so. I imag­ine that it is a real chal­lenge to fight back the bore­dom. B.J. was very impressed with the sup­port net­work around indie bands. Band mem­bers from dif­fer­ent groups fre­quent­ly know each oth­er and help each oth­er get book­ings. They see one oth­er and social­ize on tour stops as part of the cir­cuit and some close friend­ships get formed. Like any­thing, a com­mu­ni­ty has emerged.

It’s been a while since we’ve been in the States, and Pam and I rarely ven­tured into Red State land, so we asked B.J. what he’s been see­ing, since he’s been dri­ving through the coun­try for sev­er­al weeks. “Three things, main­ly.” he report­ed. “Bill­boards for Jesus, bill­boards against Abor­tion, and bill­boards for strip clubs. Every­where we went on the road, we’d see signs for those three.” A curi­ous com­bi­na­tion, we agreed. Think­ing back to that, it strikes me now that all of them hap­pen to be anti-woman (if one assumes that the Jesus ones involved the Bap­tists’ direc­tive that women be sub­mis­sive to the man of the house­hold, anti-abor­tion in our opin­ion is high­ly anti-woman, and as for strip clubs, well that’s self explana­to­ry).

After B. J. found a falafel stand that was open, we returned to the dim inte­ri­or of the Lamp­lighter. The Lamp­lighter is in the Domin­ion Hotel “Vancouver’s Only Bud­get Art Hotel”, as their web site puts it. They also quote the Toron­to Globe and Mail: ‘This prob­a­bly isn’t a hotel you’d rec­om­mend to your mom, but if you’re on a tight budget…a night at the Domin­ion is quite the expe­ri­ence.” Hmm.

The hotel (and club) is on the cor­ner of Water and Abbott Streets in Gas­town. Very funky, it’s one of the old­est build­ings I’ve seen in Van­cou­ver (built in 1889). the bar/club has a high tin ceil­ing that’s been paint­ed dark brown. The stage was at the back, and the bar was toward the front and to the left. Actu­al­ly, it was pret­ty cozy and not at all dirty or dan­ger­ous look­ing. There were can­dles at the booths and tables. A very friend­ly girl at the front took the cov­er charges. The bar­tender and bounc­er were also quite per­son­able.

As for Parts and Labor (or as we were amused to see the local paper list it: Parts and Labour), the best descrip­tion I can pro­vide is the one giv­en by Nar­nack Records, their cur­rent label:

Parts & Labor com­bines prim­i­tive, min­i­mal elec­tron­ics with an anthemic, rhyth­mic bar­rage. The Brook­lyn trio formed in ear­ly 2002 with BJ War­shaw and Jim Sykes adding bass and drums to Dan Friel’s solo keyboard/electronics exper­i­ments (described by Time Out New York as “Strange and won­der­ful, and best of all, unlike any­thing we can think of.”

We wore earplugs because the band is very loud, even by indie band stan­dards. (The drum­mer con­fid­ed in us that at one venue, he had been doing some pre­lim­i­nary sound checks when the venue’s sound engi­neer said that his drums alone were loud­er than any of the oth­er bands). I have to say that the pro­tec­tion of the earplugs kept me from mak­ing out any real details to the songs, but their raw ener­gy was engag­ing, I was not bored, and the crowd (who kept far clos­er to the band) clear­ly enjoyed them.

At the end of the evening, we head­ed out quick­ly, keep­ing to the well-lit parts of the streets. At that end of Gas­town, you prob­a­bly wouldn’t want to walk around alone too much at night. We had no trou­ble get­ting a bus home, so now I know that a late night out does not mean that there’s no bus, even at near (or even past) mid­night.