Travel Review – West Edmonton Mall [2008, Edmonton] – Part 1

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | 3 Comments

Edmonton – When one thinks of Edmonton, only three things can possibly come to mind – cold, the Oilers and the Mall. Well, as a person who spent seventeen frickin years in the Great White North, I have had plenty of trips to the mall. However, most of my friends in Toronto have never been, as there is no real point to visit Edmonton for anything. I was recently in my former home town and decided to show the peeps what the mall is all about.

First off, some information on the mall. It is the largets mall in North America and fourth largest on Earth. It consists of 570,000 square meters, has over 800 stores and also a waterpark, rink, movie theatre, casino, hotel, amusement park, golf course and pretty much everything you can think of. It even has another mall inside it. Jokes. Seriously, West Edmonton Mall is basically an indoor city.

Okay, so here are some random stuff.

This is the waterpark. It’s AWESOME. I have been there more then a few times, and its great. The rides are top notch, you can bungie jump, theres a wave pool and the rides are just good. Look at the red and purple rides, thats five stories you drop. Crazy. If you are light, you can actually fly off the purple slide on the first bump. Don’t go down this slide head first, or you will end up like Superman. Bad joke, I know. But fair warning indeed. It’s great to go in the winter, since its bright outside and warm inside.

Look – it’s Europe! and on the first floor, it’s a mini golf course! This is also where some of the more expensive shops are in WEM. How European. You should be allowed to smoke in this area of the mall.

How the hell did they get a submarine inside a mall? I don’t know. However, this is a popular ride at WEM, and also shows off Canada’s awesome naval powers. Russian warships patrolling the arctic waters, you better watch out, because this yellow submarine packs quite a punch.

On the left is where the sea lions are. They used to be dolphins, but apparently, that area is too small for the dolphins and they got depressed and died. How emo. To the middle in the back is a pirate ship. The water area is quite popular for drunken people to dive into at nite after they leave one of the West Mall nightclubs. Then they drown.

Part 2 coming up.

Heres a song for your troubles

Concert Review: Sharon Jones, October 29th, Kool Haus

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 3 Comments

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Toronto – Last Wednesday brought Toronto a veritable soul queen in Sharon Jones. For those of you who are new to Sharon Jones, she is spear-heading a throwback to good old fashioned funk and R&B. Sharon was backed by her band the Dap-Kings, the house band from her label: Daptone Records. Seeing them live is the closest I can imagine to being in Harlem during the height of soul and funk in the 70’s.

The Dap-Kings are tight. Most notable for me was watching the bassist Bosco Mann get to work. He held everything down like nobody’s business and was clearly leading the charge. It didn’t surprise me to discover later that he is the mastermind behind large swathes of Sharon’s repertoire. In a world of synthesized music (much of which I enjoy), I must say that there’s something really clean and refreshing about listening to an old-school funk band. No crazy digitized effects, just straight up bare-bones amplification for the guitars, bass, drums, sweet brass, and of course the very impressive pipes of Mrs Jones.

But what review is complete without a comment about the venue? The answer of course is many. But I’ll talk about the Kool Haus anyway. Although I’ve never been a huge fan of the Kool Haus/Government, I do have a juicy little tidbit for all you keen concert going types. Yes, it’s hard to get to, and yes it’s a bit out of the way. Yes, you have to pay for parking, but there is parking on the street that’s free. Yes, those spots evaporate quickly. BUT, if you drive one street west and the drive north of the highway, there is a much higher chance you’ll find parking on the street and, it’s still only a 5 minute walk from the venue. Most people never think to park north of the Gardiner.

I do realize that broadcasting this little tip means that I’ll be less likely to park there myself next time. So don’t ever say I don’t do stuff for you people.

Sharon Jones 4/5

Concert Review: The Rumble Strips, October 29th, El Mocambo

Posted on by Wade in Concerts, Everything | 6 Comments

rumble strips

(Toronto) I really hate ska (ska punk) . When I hear the word ska, I immediately think of over weight, middle aged, tattooed guys in black suits and funny hats playing their trumpets, which happen to be connected to their wallet via a long chain. Now I didn’t know much about The Rumble Strips going into tonights show at the El Mo except that I really liked their song Girls And Boys In Love. In what little I read about the band before the show, the infamous ska word was mentioned more than once. As I paid my $13 at the door I was dreading having to sit through some shitty Mighty Mighty Bosstone want-to-be performance. When five skinny, pale dudes from Coronation Street took the stage, I knew that I was going to be OK. And I was.

For the 25 of us in attendance, The Rumble Strips gave it their all. Those who came out were defiantly fans and the subtle, appreciative crowd sang along to their rocking, marching anthems. Tracks like Motorcycle and Alarm Clock kicked the shit out of the freezing cold El Mo.

At one point, bass player Sam Mansbridge busted out his own drum and when his drum stick broke he picked some random hard thing he found on stage and bounced it off the drum. When that thing got lost, he preceeded to beat the shit out of the drum with his hand for the remainder of the song. It looked like it hurt, but it rocked.

The Rumble Strips reminded me of the Canadian trumpet rocking super group, TheWet Secrets. Even a Zutons comparison might be in order. Whatever it is, the Rumble Strips are fun and worth catching. And they definitely aren’t ska.


Concert Review: Hot Chip, Pop Montreal, Oct 1, Metropolis

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Pop Montreal | Leave a comment

Hot Chip

Montreal – So there I was in Montreal for the Hot Chip show last Wednesday at the Metropolis. Before I talk about Hot Chip, let me first tell you about the Metropolis. Even though I haven’t yet been to many of Montreal’s live music venues. I can tell you one thing, the Metropolis rocks!

The Metropolis is an amazing old building with a balcony. It’s large enough to host a decent crowd but can still offer a relatively intimate live music experience. First constructed in 1884 as a skating rink, the Metropolis has also moonlighted as a movie theatre, a theatre house, a discotheque, and even a porn house! Is there anything this building can’t do? The answer is no.

So anyway, before I talk about Hot Chip, let me next tell you about Pop Montreal. Pop Montreal is a great 5-day international music festival in our favourite sister city: Montreal. There’s all sorts of great live music over the city in great venues. After experiencing Toronto’s music festivals like CMW and NXNE, I have to say that my first impression of Pop Montreal was that it was a relatively grassroots and low-key affair. Most of the venues I went to were extremely intimate, and the tickets were very accessible in terms of price and availability.

OK, so how was Hot Chip? The show was certainly one of the more anticipated shows at Pop Montreal this year. This London-based band showcased their brand of very danceable rock to a crowd of enthusiastic fans. I kind of wish that “Over and Over”, being an amazingly fun song to dance to, would have occurred somewhere later in the set (or in the encore) instead of mid-set. But apparently they always do that, so I suppose they’re not going to mess with a formula that works. Their encore included a rendition of “Nothing Compares to You”. A nice little retro throwback combined with sly wink that this up and coming band doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nicely done.

Metropolis: 5/5
Hot Chip: 4.5/5
Pop Montreal: 4.5/5