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A quick post mortem on a Friday night in Vancouver: There were 18 live shows this Friday. 18 live shows…

By Daniel Guillemette , in Songs Like Weeds: Field recordings from the No Fun City , on March 15, 2010 Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A quick post mortem on a Friday night in Vancouver: There were 18 live shows this Friday. 18 live shows in the concert listings of the city’s Dan-Savage-graced alt-weekly, The Georgia Straight.


Not bad, you might say. Ample pickings for the live music fan?

Let’s check the math. Vancouver’s population, from the 2006 census, is 578,041.

The twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo, meanwhile, also have 18 shows on offer, according to their Savage-endorsed alt-weekly. But that’s 18 shows for 302,143 people.

And Winnipeg, with a population of 633,451, has 44 live shows tonight. 44! That’s a number to aim for.

Oh, and it’s Canadian Music Week in Toronto. That means like 44 concerts an hour.

“Well,” one could argue, “Vancouverites are notoriously laid back. The effort to head out and see some live music goes against the down-home lights-off spirit of the whole enterprise.”

Except every other person you talk to in this city is from somewhere else, like Winnipeg and KW. And there are plenty of people upset about this sleepy city.

Which prompts the question: Is Vancouver devolving?

Recent work studying the origins of music suggest that, as an extension of language, music has been fundamental to the expansion of the human brain. In 2001, three Simon Fraser University professors edited a book called, perfectly enough, The Origins of Music

, which examines music making’s evolutionary functions. The literature suggests sexual display, parental care, coordinating group action, and the domestication of animals.

Domestication of animals and mating rituals?  That’s hilarious, and it suggests music is an essential part of human development.

But if it is so essential, where is it in Vancouver?  Are we not raising any kids in this city?  Are we not domesticating any animals?

This blog is an excuse to find the cornucopia of music that must surely be happening off the 18 or so main stages.  So every week I will bring you the field recordings I find from the cracks and the corners of the No Fun City.  I expect the songs are just bursting out like weeds.

Tomorrow is flamenco.  I hope you enjoy.


  • Speaking for the kind of music I generally go see, most of it is busy down at CMW or, later this month, SxSW. Still, there’s the odd band that’s touring ’round here — isn’t Vampire Weekend on a Canadian kick right now?

  • But for bands at the top of the indie pops, like Vampire Weekend, there is still an infrastructure in place, albeit pretty limited, for them to tour here: one or two venues, which wouldn’t leave any options on a given night.
    As for flamenco and some of the other music I;m going to look at, the stages are smaller or non-existent. Basically, I just think it could be a lot better.

  • sorry should say, ‘which, even then, wouldn’t leave many options on any given night’ for indie pop lovers like you and me.

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