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Snapped Crackling Pop



Apologies up front for those who'll get this twice because of the 
crosspost, but since it's been talked about on both lists...

    This weekend I caught both the Snapped Crackling Pop display of 
Halifax music scene art and the associated gig at the NSCAD 
cafeteria.  Impressed by both, apart from the quality of the sound 
equipment used in both cases.

    If the "Secret Band" played, it was while I was outside.  When I 
entered, the DJ was playing dance music, the first of several 
bizarre film loops was playing on a bedsheet haphazardly mounted on 
the side wall, and Paul of Piggy fame was dishing out free cotton 
candy (self serve all night long for the "dry" kids who needed a 
high from something other than $2.50 beer).  
    The second band was Soaking Up Jagged, who have apparently been 
around long enough (judging from their display at the gallery) to 
have made the "Wicker Donkey" a running gag/trademark.  Note to 
other bands contemplating such antics: dressing your tambourinist in 
a black sheet and wicker-basket donkey mask and having him perform 
various minor feats of acrobatics is more distracting than it is 
entertaining.  I'd not seen them before, found their short and 
aggressive songs likeable but the singing style (not to mention the 
lyrics) a bit wierd.  At least the set list was posted on Bristol 
board for all to see, so it was easy to judge how much longer they 
would play.   
    Next I was surprised to see the Chinstraps, who I thought had 
skipped town.  I was more surprised to see the drummer don a bizarre 
wire-frame mask equipped with an unfortunately weak and poorly-
positioned mic, and a face-sized magnifying lens that made it look 
like he was performing inside a fishbowl.  Or maybe he was 
impersonationg "The Creature from the Blue Lagoon"? :)  I've seen 
shows where they sounded better, but the edge was still there.
   Rebecca West's soundcheck consisted of jamming, in skilled and 
entertaining fashion, in sync with the dance music selections of the 
DJ.  When it came time to take the stage for real, Allison Outhit 
rightly decided that the lead mic sucked (Her chant of "Up! Up! Up!" 
which I mistook as a cue to the soundman to raise the mic volume, 
was in fact directed at the tired and the few sitting in front of 
the stage), and thus we were treated to a half hour instrumental jam 
bracketed by only two vocal selections.  Just the sort of thing that 
really shows off what a great sound Lukas gets by bowing his bass 
with that steak knife.
    Thrush Hermit had the worst mic trouble, with Rob's vocals 
completely absent on several verses.  They also had trouble with Ian 
breathing fire, momentarily setting the very low ceiling alight, and 
with a skateboarding gorilla who stole one of Cliff's cymbals.  By 
this point the soundman had the mix completely off, guitars at 
deafening levels and vocals hopelessly distorted, but the troops 
marched on through "Patriot" and other faves.  The "ROCK & ROLL" 
sign was present but little used, overshadowed by a smoking mock-up 
of the three stacks of the Tufts Cove power station. 

    I caught the gallery show on closing Saturday, and spent most of 
my time watching the excellent video compilation playing on a not 
very excellent TV and VCR.  I caught several Superfriendz, Plumtree, 
Thrush Hermit, Hip Club Groove and Jale videos, most of which I'd 
not seen and none of which I'd seen any more than twice.  All were 
well-produced, creative, and entertaining, perfect reasons for them 
not to get Much airplay.  I commented on my desire to purchase the 
video in the guestbook, then read through it to find that Tara 
Wittchen and Heather (Harkins, presumably) were of the same opinion. 
Murder staff, take note!
    Other highlights were (unfortunately empty) containers of Li'l 
Orton's Elixir and Popcorn, posters from such long lost clubs as 
Odin's Eye (before my time) and Waldo's, and a Mike Graham photo of 
a young man bearing a striking resemblance to Graham MacDougall 
caught in the now-frowned-upon act of crowd surfing.  I was 
surprised to see the quality of the gig posters, some of which were 
more creative and more carefully laid out than many examples of 
album art (which one would expect to receive longer planning and 
more effort).  Several one of a kind examples were original 
layout sheets of album art, Chris Murphy's original polaroids for 
Peppermint and Smeared, and uncut CD and cassette cards (kinda like a 
sheet of $2 bills from the mint, but instead of "Bank of Canada" 
they say "John Boomer").  The T-shirt collection varied from the 
simple to the truly inspired (though there must be a better 
specimen of the Merge Irving-logo-knockoff shirt in existence).
    If this show does resurface (perhaps at HOM as suggested in the 
guestbook by TLW) I hope they put out a broader casting call in order 
to expand the collection (like posting here, the murder site, etc.). 
And they may just get one of those elusive Sonic Youth posters...

Andrew