A concert in the park is not a phrase normally associated with Vancouver or Stanley Park but for three days in July the city hosted free concerts showcasing an array of local talent.
The festivities were put on as a celebration of Vancouver’s 125 year anniversary. The location for the event could not have been any more perfect than along the peninsula of Stanley Park’s lush green Brockton Point. The stage and festival goers were surrounded by water and towering Douglas Firs and Western Hemlocks. These grand old trees filtered the day’s radiant dying sun and a slight breeze from Coal Harbour kept the summer night below the average annual temperature.
Saturday night’s headliner was The New Pornographers. They are a successful local band that started back in 1997 and have released several acclaimed albums with hits like “Mass Romantic,” “Use It” and “My Rights vs. Yours.”
The New Pornographers took the stage around 9:30 as twilight set in over Vancouver.
For the most part, The New Pornographers’ sound was crisp and clear. The band has a polished live performance and they prove to play with masterful skill. The only technical snag to the show came with moments of sharp feedback when all members of the band sang in harmonious chorus. As the concert continued, most of the audio problems were properly regulated by the sound crew.
The crowd had its moments of douche-baggery. There were a couple of ass-holes in the crowd that pulled some idiotic stunts. The first came during the intro to “Adventures in Solitude.” Some of the crowd started to clap out of time with the rhythm of the slow ambient sound of the intro. Frontman, A.C. Newman started to laugh and stopped playing.
“You’re not even close,” he jokingly said to the crowd. “Do you know how hard it is to play when you’re clapping out of time?”
The band started the song over again replaying the slow intro of a carefully plucked acoustic guitar and the soothing sound of simple piano chords.
A handful of people started a rhythmic clap just like before.
“Stop it!” said Newman with a serious authority.
The clapping faded out a second later but a few people continued the distraction in defiance of the simple request. Newman accepted this and waited a few more beats before attempting to sing.
Another display of idiocy came during the last song of the night. The band had just started singing the final portion of “The Bleeding Heart Show” when someone threw a half can of beer on stage. The can landed to the right of Nico Case and some of the beer showered her as she sang. There was a brief moment of disgust on both Case and Newman’s face but they carried on with the final song.
It was unfortunate to see a beer thrown on stage at a free, family friendly event. I can understand if this happened at a rowdy major music festival. It is a luxury and a privilege to have an opportunity to watch a free concert at a beautiful venue.
It seems like a very small handful of people keep overstepping the boundaries of acceptable behaviour while the rest stand by and watch for what happens. I only hope I’m out of this town when these few rotten apples spoil the harvest for everyone else…