Over The Top Fest 2007
Over The Top Fest 2007 has come to an end: another year in the books, another year to remember. Japanther reigned the Mod Club stage, Daniel Johnson played to a sold-out crowd, a dance partied went long into the night at Sneaky Dee's, film/theatre/dance were new and successful additions, and above all, it was an enjoyable experience.
Night One featured Julie Doiron at the St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Church atop of Kensington Market and College. Performing tunes from her new record, she ran with a full band and played a 90's grunge/indie sound through out with the exception of a closing tune, played solo. After her set finished, a much heavier and lively set was just getting started at Sneaky Dee's. Experimental-Punk locals' Rozasia played on the floor rather than the stage, using up all of the space for their spastic movements and heavy sounds. Can't deny a flute being involved - an interesting twist. Following them were the progressive stylings of duo-experimental guitar head-bangers from Baltimore, Ecstatic Sunshine. Sharing space on the same label as absurdist techno god, Dan Deacon, Sunshine fell into the Sneaky Dee's medium with ease. Looping through tunes and tapping frets, these two reminded me of friends who have nothing much to do but create explosive guitar duels with some melodic twists. Also, the stage-screams at the end were perfect. Finally, DDMMYYYY (day month year) brought in the locals to say hello and goodbye to the band that was ready to endure a 2-month long tour to play some of the most obscure and unique spots in North America. This having been the first time I had seen the band play, I enjoyed their catchy brand of tunes. Math-Rock with a bit of experimental twists usually doesn't lay down for "catchy" music, but it was enjoyable and, at most times, danceable.
Photos: DDMMYYY & Ecstatic Sunshine
Night Two was more of a sit-down eve. While Japanther, Matt & Kim and The Meligrove Band were ripping it up at The Mod Club, much softer acts were going on at The Tranzac. Nick Krgovich, of beloved Vancouver softies, P:ano , played all SADE tunes with his own style of soft and sooth. Nick always makes an impression, even when he snaps his fingers to keep a beat going. A quiet room and a very low light suited the tall performer, and he clearly managed to keep everyone's attention through out his set. Vague Angels, Ted Leo's brother's band (headed by Chris Leo) raised the volume a bit with a full-fledged set of fairly-hard tunes. Leo's vocals were more on the narrative side than anything. It was like a poetry reading, only a spazzy guitarist was getting into it. Finally, the long-awaited debut of Owen Ashworth's Casiotone for the Painfully Alone began as the Tranzac room filled up nicely. Although many were excited to see him perform for the first time, his tunes were a bit on the monotonous side. However, Ashworth's great choice of covers ('Philadephia' by Bruce Springsteen and 'Graceland' by Paul Simon') spilled over well with the crowd. Some people decided to stand, move to the front and dance. Once the set was over, Ashworth got off stage, walked his way through chairs and that was that. Finally, after strolling over to Sneaky Dee's just past midnight, the floor was literally moving with people dancing to Flosstradamous' great choice of dance tunes. Although I had left a short while later, I heard the party continued into the night.
Night Three hosted a CD release party at the Whippersnapper Gallery with The Phonemes dropping their debut LP entitled 'There's Something We've Been Meaning To Do'. Starting off the night was Jason Trachtenburg of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. Nervous at the mic, but fantastic behind the instrument, Trachtenburg also played to a crowd of sitters (on a wooden floor - ouch), sporting uppity-folky songs thru his tiny amp. Following him was Bob Wiseman and his brand of video comedy and songs about environmentalism. If only Bob had the whole night to play, he would. He'd play everything he could and then some. Finally, The Phonemes showcased off two music videos made my local talent and then got on with the show. Requiring assistance from friends and other performers, The Phonemes used the entire stage to their music come out just the way they wanted it to. With that, a satisfied audience smiled and moved along to the slow and fast tempo songs. Also, I can't forget the choir that was involved. They were dressed in City Idol uniforms/costumes. If you're familiar with City Idol, then maybe you know what I'm talking about.
Overall, Over The Top Fest 2007 rode on into the sunset with excitement and success at its back. I'd like to thank everyone that made this festival the best it could be, especially the man behind it all, Eric Warner. You take what's good about the talent in AND outside of this city and share it proudly. This festival is only going up. Be proud.
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