Sunday, May 20, 2007

Virgin Festival 2007: Muddy good fun on first day

It's Albert from the Seattle Gay News, in Vancouver for the big Virgin Festival at Thunderbird Stadium.

The first day of V-Fest was awesome, despite the buckets of rain that poured down on us. Yet, that didn't stop the large crowd from trekking out to the University of British Columbia campus, about a ten to fifteen-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

I arrived just in time to catch Stars of Track and Field, from Portland, on the main stage. A fan requested that one member "drop trou" - and he did. He unsnapped his jeans and let em' fall. Hmmm...and they say Northwesterners aren't hospitable.

Next was a band called The Bled, from Arizona, that I'd never heard of until today. Lead singer James Munoz had a floppy mop of hair that looked adorable on him and his belt buckle could've doubled as a tea tray. At the end of the band's performance, Munoz jumped out into the pit and surfed the crowd.

Mute Math (pictured) went onstage next. Admittedly, I haven't given this New Orleans-based unit very much attention when they've come through Seattle. And I really should. While I don't entirely dig their experimental-rock sound, they are very talented musicians and put on a terrific show. Lead singer Paul Meany, after the band wrapped up its forty-minute appearance with the song "Reset", jumped off the stage and then climbed and wiggled himself back onstage, then jumped atop a large speaker or instrument of some kind. They were very exciting!

Rise Against, not to be confused with Rage Against the Machine, were up next. They had the crowd bouncing furiously. I LOVED frontman Tim McIlrath's semi-hawk hairdo and I also loved his onstage personae. He really knows how to command an audience, and they were so loud and so contagious!

Canadian rockers Billy Talent have made a huge name for themselves here in this beautiful Maple Leaf country, but they've yet to make a big splash in the US. Their sound is booming, and they certainly validated their national popularity. But I still say Arcade Fire is Canada's coolest rock export. Billy Talent could impact US music fans when they record (in Vancouver) their upcoming third album. By the way, lead vocalist Benjamin Kowalewicz looks a bit like actor Jeremy Piven.

Unfortunately, I didn't stay for today's headliner My Chemical Romance. Although I did see them in December at Seattle's Key Arena. I was cold, wet, hungry, and exhausted - so I bus'd it back to my hotel (best hotel in Vancouver, Opus) and grabbed some food, and jumped into a long hot shower.

Tomorrow, it's The Killers! And let's hope lead Killer and rock hottie Brandon Flowers feels better. They were forced to cancel tonight's show in Seattle, per doctor's orders.

From the Virgin Festival, I'm signing off.

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