Sunday, Vancouver. 7:00 am. It's a nice, crisp morning with a gorgeous sunrise. The warm light from the sun in the east fills the room. I crashed at my buddy Ming's place after the wedding we shot yesterday in Squamish. The bride and groom were a rad couple. A ton of fun.
Andrew was supposed to text me after his show last night. Nothing. He was supposed to let me know where and when to meet the band this morning. Yesterday he mentioned they wanted to get one of the morning ferries to the island. He didn't mention if they were leaving from Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay. He just said "the 10 or 11 ferry".
I haven't seen these guys in about 3 years. They have since added two members to their band, and have now decided to do a small tour through BC. I missed their Vancouver show for the wedding, but am going to catch the last two shows in Victoria and Nanaimo. If only Andrew would text back and let me know where the hell I'm supposed to meet him.
8:00 am. Fuck it. I'm gonna go get some breakfast downtown. Andrew mentioned he was crashing close to the venue. I'll go eat at Deacon's so if he messages me I won't be far. Deacon's is a rad place. Old diner style. Mediocre service, but great food. Shitty, watered-down caesars though...I highly recommend them. That or their half-decent coffee, black. I have a weakness for shitty coffee. Seems to wake me up better than the fancy stuff. Save the good stuff for post-dinner. I get the caesar and a salmon benny. Fucking delicious.
10:00 am. No word from Andrew yet. I hit up a coffee shop in Gastown and grab another cup. I try texting and calling him again and got nothing. Fuck it. I'm just gonna go grab the ferry on foot and hopefully will end up taking the right one. The first show is in Victoria, I think. If I don't hear from them, then I can just meet them at the venue there. No idea where it is, or even how to navigate Victoria on foot, but fuck it. I dig an adventure.
Getting to the ferry via transit is interesting. From downtown you take the Canada line to the casino at Bridgeport, then jump the 620 bus to the terminal. It's time consuming. If you're lucky enough to snag a seat on the bus then you can relax. I got a seat next to the window near the swivel in the middle. A fantastic spot with a lot of leg room. I'm a tall guy so having a spot that I can have my bag and room for my legs is a luxury. The guy who snagged the seat next to me seemed pretty chill. Didn't stink at all. Stinky people are the reason you don't take transit in Vancouver. A remarkable amount of people just can't seem to grasp the concept of personal hygiene in this city. He wasn't from here though. Tourist, visiting the casino. Nice Indian fella, probably in his 50's. He fell asleep on my shoulder en route. I tried to wake him but he slept like a rock. Wouldn't budge. Then magically when the bus pulled up to the terminal he was awake and out the door faster than I could stand up. It was incredible.
12:30. The ferry for Victoria doesn't leave until 2pm, so now I have some time to read, and will hopefully get a text from Andrew.
1:00. Sitting here and finally get the text. Andrew's on his way to the Tsawwassen ferry. Thank fucking Christ I picked the right one. He says he's 30 minutes away so I walk over to where the cars pass before the toll and wait. So I pull out the camera and snap a few frames, naturally. Plus I get to test out the mic I borrowed from TJ. I might try doing some video coverage of their set in Victoria. I've done a little bit of live video before, but just with a 'B' camera. No sound, pretty chill. I wanted sound with this one so I got this mic for the weekend. Crash course pretty much. Thankfully it's not rocket science working this recorder. I get it figured out in about ten minutes of saying "test" at the side of the road. Not bad. Hopefully it sounds good later at the show.
1:30 pm. Andrew pulls up and I jump in his van. It's a white, family size minivan with gear piled up into the backseat. Andrew's guitar, Riley's keyboards, various amps, and Darren's massive stand up bass with it's case draping over the middle seat. Sleeping bags and pillows fill the spaces in between. We head to the booth. Van +2 passengers. $80. Holy shit...fucking thieves! "Go ahead, take lane 42" she says. We pull up and park in the lane, hop out and head to the market. We both need coffee so we hit up Starbucks. We grabbed a snack and a couple Americanos, then sat outside and talked about movies and what we've been doing last couple years. We talk mind-fuck movies like 'Memento', 'Fight Club', and some others. He recommends 'Synecdoche New York'. Andrew finishes his snack and we get walking back to the van. Mid way we run into Jordan, the drummer. Quick hug and greet before we hear the PA pipe up calling lanes. "42" she belts out. The cars start flying forward. Andrew and I start running, both holding our coffees and making our way towards the van. I'm about 50ft away from the van when I start wondering what the fuck I'm running so fast for, because Andrew has the keys and he's really far behind. He's put on about 30 lbs. since I saw him last so he's a bit sluggish. I wait and grab his coffee from him so he can go unlock the van. We both jump in and get rolling in perfect timing. We pull onto the ferry and park.
We head up to the deck as the ferry starts pulling out of the terminal into the bright, low fog...the type where you look out onto the water and there is no defining line between the water and the sky. The fog blends them together into a surreal scene of continuity. We go sit where the wind isn't as obtrusive and bullshit some more; where the band is going, how they've been. They're working on a score for an indie Calgary movie that's supposed to film next year. I've been wanting to use their music in a film for ages but haven't finished any of my screenplays yet. We talk for a while, occasionally interrupted by the obtrusive deafening foghorn that goes off every 2 minutes. It's irritating. It's nicer on the deck than inside, so we stay. Eventually Darren, Jordan, and his girlfriend Amanda come up to the deck. The fog starts to clear about 30 minutes out of Swartz bay, revealing the tops of the coastal islands. It's a beautiful sight, all these little mountains and islands popping out of the water. Cliff faces just waiting to be jumped off, and some low fog still resting on the surface of the water. I snap some photos and everyone jokes around. Andrew puts on Jordan's few-sizes-too-small Vespa jacket and struts around before showing off his "pipes". Then everyone shares Darren's hat for silly photos. Darren flips it around and resembles Fred durst. Andrew tosses it on and makes a shit-eating old fart face. Terrible.
Once they call people to get to their cars we head back down. We were parked in front of this beautiful old red Alfa Romeo convertible. He had the top down. Good day for a cruise once the sky clears up.
Off to Victoria.
4:30 pm. Andrew and I meet the rest of the group at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria for a late lunch/early dinner. It's a place where they have a bunch of food shacks floating alongside houseboats. All sorts of colourful little houses on the water litter the place. A nice touristy spot, and for a nice Sunday it wasn't too busy. We hang out and eat fish & chips and ice cream, and make some witty pun jokes for a while. Afterward we walk around the docks, checking out the little houseboats. Andrew and Riley pop out this video on the iPhone for some laughs. It's this odd mannequin-type thing having difficulties navigating its way to the store. Stupid but funny.
6:00 pm. Logan's pub. Cool little place on Cook Street. Nice old wood bar with two large open areas. An acoustic set is on the smaller stage when we walk in. People sip drinks and drunkenly sing along. We walk past to go check out the stage that Jung People will be playing on. It's on the other side of the place, and it's a good-sized stage for a bar. The lighting isn't too shabby, either. A nice sized dance floor with some wood tables and chairs at the back. Darren, Jordan, and Amanda start a game of pool after we haul the gear in.
7:00 pm. After everything is set up, Jordan, Amanda and I hang out in the car while Andrew drives off to find a "nicer place to take a shit". Amanda is well versed in astrology, and 9/10 times she's right when it comes to guessing peoples' signs. I'm not usually into the zodiac stuff, but Amanda seems to have it down to a T.
I was initially going to take some photos and a bit of video, but then I decided last minute that I'll take photos of the show in Nanaimo instead, and will just shoot video here in Victoria. Try to get the whole set in. I'll have to make a few cuts. I wanted to do it in one take but my camera only shoots in 20-minute intervals. I'll have to strategically cut it into a sweet 45-minute video. The sound will record the whole thing fine. I hope it turns out because I can't stand live recording videos with shit audio...but then again I'm so fucking green at it, so it will almost certainly sound like crap. Oh well. Do it anyways. Chance to learn. I set the mic front and centre by the ceiling above an inactive disco ball. I eye it every once in a while to see that it's still recording and the levels aren't berserk. Seems good so far. I spent the sound check carefully tweaking lights to hit the band evenly. Last thing I want to do is exposure changes mid video during a 20-minute take. Turns out I got nice and clean black & white footage of the whole set. I'm going to have to make a few cuts, but luckily I timed it all right (which with Jung People is no simple task). They have a wonderful flow to their show and getting a second to cut video is nearly impossible. Thankfully I nailed it, even after them playing new music I've never seen them perform yet.
What I found out earlier was that it was Jordan's turn to find a place to crash and as of the end of the show. We had nowhere to go. A friend they were going to ask wasn't around, so that fell through. Luckily they had a former band mate; Nick, that came out to the show and graciously offered us his floor. When it's raining in Victoria and you've got nowhere to crash, a floor is a godsend. We get to his gorgeous old house and get settled in. Four of us on the floor, one on the couch, and Andrew sleeping in the van. There's been a lot of gear getting stolen lately and he doesn't want to take any chances. I dump the day's photos and video onto my computer then pass out with the rest.
2:00 am. I wake up as the cold air blows in from the open window. Half asleep, I roll onto my left away from it. There's Jordan, mouth wide open, passed out, snoring two inches away from my face. Jordan's breath hitting me like the wind on the ferry, but stinkier. I back up as far as I can but I'm in between Jordan and the wall. I roll onto my back and pass out again.
7:30 am. Everyone's still asleep. I shower then sit at the table and read. Shittiest thing about crashing somewhere you're unfamiliar with and being the first awake is you don't know where the coffee is. I check Google and there are no coffee shops close by. So I read until the others get up. Once Nick gets up he makes us all tea. After everyone inside is up I go to wake Andrew. He's sleeping in the front passenger seat, bundled up like Kenny from South Park. I knock on the window and he doesn't budge. Knock some more. Nothing. I come back 30 minutes later and open the door. Andrew says good morning and asks how my dick is. Fantastic, thanks for asking. I tell him we're going for breakfast soon and to get up. He groans as I head back inside.
Nick takes us to this little brunch place called 'Shine Cafe'. Lovely little place with these three cute girls waiting tables. Apparently Victoria has a big breakfast culture. Brunch on a Monday, fuck yeah. My kinda town.
After brunch we hit the park to walk around. Andrew has a moment with a fancy tree, and Riley climbs it and poses for his "gothsuptrees" Tumblr submission photo. We see some wild peacocks and visit some prisoner chickens. There was also a rooster that has a hard-on for the theatrics and decided to give us a show and starts fighting some of the chickens.
We walk over to the coast and Andrew decides to chuck apples at Jordan. The final attempt, we were about 150ft behind him and Andrew tosses this apple and pulls something in his arm.
After some time down by the water and enjoying the beautiful Victoria coast, we walk back to the car and get on the road for Nanaimo.
Darren's left to drive Andrew's van after the failed apple toss. With a van full of gear, there's a ton of blind spots and Darren doesn't seem to realize where the right side of the van is, and nearly hits a few posts as he avoids a car. Not to mention riding along the edge of the highway for the first half of the trip. We manage to get into Nanaimo in one piece and start looking for the venue: Crace Mountain. Apparently it's a house-turned-art-collective type place. We don't have an address and there's no address on the show poster, Crace's site, Facebook, nor on Google. So, Darren is driving around looking for it based off memory from the last time he played there. We drove around for about 15 minutes before parking and trying to get a hold of Andrew or Jordan. Of course, Andrew's phone is still on the fritz but we manage to get a call through. Apparently they weren't even in Nanaimo yet. Somehow we must have passed them, which is odd because we were the slow ones on the highway. Oh well. We got some Tim Horton's while we waited. Tim Horton's sandwiches are a step up from gas station grub. Same goes for their coffee. It hits the spot. Andrew texts us the address when we're finishing up. Big fucking surprise, the venue is on Crace Street...
We got to the place after doing an unintentional detour around the hotels after missing the turn off. It's a good-sized house, at the edge of where the houses end and the industrial port businesses start. We park in the driveway, which slopes down in between a basement door and the roof of the neighboring business. You could literally walk right onto it. Pretty cool view of the port area. We head into the basement where the show is supposed to be. It's very dark. It's nighttime and there are no lights. I crack on the phone flashlight and take a peek around. It looks like someone's basement. There's a small workshop with wood and saws and such. A worn concrete floor leads to where the band will be playing. There's a small nook in the corner that's slightly raised up. We find some lights and turn them on, along with some small string Christmas lights that are already dangling from the un-finished ceilings. I also found an old projector like the ones they used in high school. It had a bandana and a plastic grid thing on it. I place it on the floor near where Darren is setting up his bass and it lights him up a bit. There's a house drum kit, which is pretty bare bones. The kick drum was missing the front cover and there was no snare stand. We found an old stool, took the cushion off and used the legs as a makeshift stand. It was starting to look like MacGyver's drum kit, but it worked. With the extra light we got a better view of the room. It was about 20x20, with concrete floors and old haggard couches facing in from the edges of the room. There was various art lying around and on the walls and a shopping cart full of crap on the side of the room. I snap a photo with the flash on.
Andrew angrily fiddles with the whole sound system while everyone else sets up. His arm seems to be feeling better. Though he looks as if he's going to start tossing the soundboard. Next to the stage is this board surrounded by a slew of miscellaneous cords hanging everywhere, a total gong show. Definite fire hazard.
There's a room off to the side with a small tiki-looking bar in it and a piano that once looked pretty grand. It was all open and exposed now, but it still worked. Jordan played it for a few minutes. This was a longer room, though narrower. There was a small bar at one end, and a small couch at the other end. Graffiti on the walls and an old shitty rug on the floor in the middle. Literally shitty, there was even a big cat turd on the floor.
Andrew and the guys figure it all out and we head to the next room to do a little interview. I set the camera up near the couch, but out of the way of the cat shit...
After the interview we hang out for a bit. People start showing up around 10 for the first band. Jung People go on at 11ish.
Aside from last night, the last time I saw these guys was at 'The Railway' in Vancouver a couple years ago. Jung People are magical. They closed that show, and left peoples jaws on the floor. They have this effect where they start playing and everyone becomes mesmerized and drawn to the music, it's a spectacle. People can't help but stop, listen, and watch. Not be distracted with dancing or their fucking phones. That's exactly how it was at Crace. The same bewildering show. Even with dealing with the burdens of a shitty sound system, MacGyver's drum kit, Darren's bass resting a few inches from the ceiling, and Riley literally stuffed into the corner next to the drum kit, they manage to pull off an amazing show. Giving all the energy they can. Watching them is truly bewildering. Especially the energy they give off. The way they play, especially Andrew, moving and dancing while playing, not focusing on anything but what he's doing. He hardly acknowledges the crowd, seemingly hypnotized by his own music.
That energy just can't be avoided. It gets embraced. The crowd adapts and enjoys, in awe. Instead of being catered to by the bands I see so often. Jung people's crowds are there to be apart of an experience, they're not there to see a band perform for them, or to be catered to, or even to be played to, but to embrace and witness a masterpiece of a post-rock performance. Definitely one of the few bands around with a true passion for what they do.
These guys are also one of the few bands that are extremely difficult to shoot. You're stuck having to balance listening and savoring it and getting the pictures you need, with trying not to be a distraction to them or the audience. Other bands that have a lot going on you can blend in and shoot, not be a distraction. Not these guys. Especially in that venue, where you stand to take a few photos and you block ten people. I stand every so often to snap a few photos then I would slowly go sit on the couch or go crouch in front and try not to block the people who we're sitting. Yes. Sitting. People get so mesmerized they sit down to watch these guys. They played for almost 2 hours and managed to get a triple encore. This crowd just couldn't get enough.
After the show we got the gear packed into the van. Again, we were faced with the same dilemma of not knowing where we were going to sleep. We were offered to crash at the venue on the sofas in the basement, but decided it would be better if we crashed in our cars at the ferry. We're about to go when Andrew decides he has to piss. He jumps out of the van and runs to the lamppost up the street and let's 'er rip. Mid stream he yells at me to snap a photo. I grab the camera and crank the ISO to a stupid 25k and snap a couple frames mid flow. Once he's dry we head out.
We stop at most likely the last open store in Nanaimo on a Monday night. We got to the ferry terminal and parked at the entrance where the booths are. It's a nice cool evening. Not too cold. A nice fog sits over the ferry terminal and we're first in line for the early Tuesday departure. The gates open at 5am and we got there at 1. We whip out our blankets and pillows and get comfy and I toss my feet out of the window. I have this weird habit where I need to be cozy but my feet gotta chill.
I toss a movie on my iPad. 'The Squid and the Whale'. It's been sitting on my iPad waiting to be watched. Hilarious fucking movie. One of Wes Anderson's old goodies. We hung out and watched it on the dash.
5:00 am. I wake to see Andrew starting the car and driving forward, passing the booth and driving down the lane parking at the front. I'm half asleep so once he parks I'm out like a light again.
5:30 am. I'm woken up from people talking. A little BC ferries pickup truck is parked next to us and the driver is barking about us not paying. We're all too tired to comprehend what the fuck is happening. Andrew eventually starts the van and pulls back around, following the pickup. We get back to the booth and he hops out, walking towards the booth. A few minutes pass before he comes back out and gets into the van, feverishly tossing his blanket back over his lap. Smiling, he looks over, "they didn't charge me for you guys. Just the van". I tell him he should skip the gate more often.
6:00 am. We pull onto the ferry and it's still pitch black and foggy. I considered heading out and getting some footage and photos but it's nice and warm in the van. I enjoy the view from the inside. We're a couple cars from the front so there's still a great view. I stay half awake as the sun rises through the poor crop of the front ferry opening. A great mellow end to a good weekend. I'm heading home. They still have 12 hour drive home. Back through the Rockies to Calgary.
Jung People Can be found online at jungpeople.ca
For free MP3 downloads from the show go here: