For the fans, Cram Jam another success

September 28, 2008 by  

Vancouver's Daniel Wesley doesn't fail to excite the crowd at Cram Jam 3. (Alicia-Rae Light photo)

Vancouver's Daniel Wesley doesn't fail to excite the crowd at Cram Jam 3. (Alicia-Rae Light photo)

There was no shortage of sound in Cloverdale Friday, where Kwantlen students, locals and other music fans gathered for the third annual Cram Jam, one of the biggest KSA-sponsored events of the semester, complete with an enticing line-up of indie, punk, alternative and rock artists from across the country.

At 2 p.m. Friday as the festival is scheduled to begin, the sun is gleaming outside the venue, but the site is practically empty, with the exception of a stage crew, a few volunteers, security guards and members of the Kwantlen Student Association running about the venue finalizing last-minute details.

“We need to get the first band on now if we want to stay on schedule,” said Vanessa Knight, the KSA’s director of events. “It’s a festival. Things never run as planned.”

The opening band hit the stage near 3 p.m. Full of energy and completely disregarding the lack of audience, the four pre-teen boys who’ve named themselves Childsplay start off this year’s festival with some original songs and a cover of the Ramone’s first hit single, “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

“How do you feel playing for a bunch of university students?”

“It was cool,” says 12-year-old vocalist, Mishel Salum, wearing crisp, skinny jeans, a studded belt, bright white trainers a paint-splattered shirt and a skinny pink tie. “It’s so exciting.”

Levin Faber, the 13-year-old blonde-haired drummer, adds: “I’m allergic to hay, but other
than that it was awesome.”

Besides the stifling scent of hay bales and horses, as would be expected at a rodeo grounds, the venue couldn’t have been better. If the crowd were larger that is.

“We’re expecting 600, hopefully,” says Knight. The goal was 2,500. The KSA overestimated ticket sales and the venue never fills up to even a fourth of its capacity.

The Second Epic’s lead vocalist, Andrew, excites the screaming crowd. (Cori Alfreds photo)

The Second Epic’s lead vocalist, Andrew, excites the screaming crowd. (Cori Alfreds photo)

For the next several hours, local talent – Versus the Nothing, Tenant and Exit 200 – play for a small, but supportive crowd as the audience slowly builds. Near 7 p.m., The Fury rip up the stage. With guitarist Jonathan Wu and female vocalist Chase in the mix, the band sets up the rest of the evening.

“We’re only hoping for it to get bigger and better every year,” says Kathryn, site manager and coordinator for Cram Jam. This is the first year that the festival has required a ticket for entry and that it is open to the public and not just Kwantlen Students. “An event of this magnitude takes a ton of planning and preparation. We have a number of staff working on it full-time who have been working on it for about six months,” she says.

At 7 p.m., in the beer garden, the atmosphere is buzzing with excitement.

“Who are you here to see tonight?”

“Obviously, Daniel Wesley,” says 24-year-old Carry Bradford, who celebrated her birthday at Cram Jam.

As festival goers, mostly 20-somethings, help themselves to $5 pints of Granville Island Ale and raspberry Growers cider, the Cram Jam vibe is beginning to look up.

“We just got here and we’re having an amazing time,” says Sam Robertson, a 20-year-old student at Kwantlen Surrey Campus.

On stage, Will Currie & The Country French, an indie folk band from Waterloo, Ontario adds a different vibe to the evening. The band originally got together in a small room in the basement of the music faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University. Will Currie, lead vocalist and founder of the band, skillfully plays the piano on jazzy, uplifting tunes as drummer Aaron Mariash holds the beat during their set with a charming smile on his face throughout. The songs Surprising Me and Friendly Fire are crowd favorites and they sing along.

“It’s the final day of our tour,” says Mariash with a sigh, as the band packs up outside the Agriplex. “This tour with Sloan has definitely been the highlight of our time together as a band.”

Inside, rock band Ten Second Epic puts on nothing less than an epic show, with more head-banging involved than at a Slipknot gig.

As Daniel Wesley finally makes his way onto the stage, nearly everyone in the crowd is swaying, smiling and singing along to his lyrics, lost in the moment. Fans seem to be mesmerized by his Sublime-meets-Jack-Johnson-esque sound. Sing Dance, his hit has the crowd screaming and firing up lighters and cell phones and waving them in the air.

And then it’s time for the final act of the evening.

17 years after they started, Sloan has still got what it takes to wow an audience. Older members of the audience are singing their lyrics word-for-word, dominating the front of stage alongside the younger generation. The quartet closed off the evening leaving the crowd with exactly what they came for, if not more.

The music, for the most part, was brilliant. Cram Jam was filled with a blur of amazing acts and the sound was incredible. The venue was the only downfall, being far too large for the number of fans.
But it was definitely a music festival of sorts. Indie kids and rockers alike went home more than satisfied, with their heads filled with an abundance of abrasive rock tunes and alternative sounds.


2 Responses to “For the fans, Cram Jam another success”

  1. Steve Lee on September 28th, 2008 8:00 pm

    I think the problem with the venue was the fact that it was in the middle of nowhere. How often do you see music festivals out there? It was very inaccessible by transit – I know even some KSA people did not go because their schedules didn’t permit them to carpool with others and to have bussed out would have taken awhile.

  2. Steve Lee on September 28th, 2008 8:03 pm

    I also think we could have had a few months more lead time for advertising the event. It was announced about 4 or 5 weeks before the event was going to happen.

    But in light of those two issues – the KSA is already looking at beginning the planning for Cram Jam 4 now, as opposed to in April or May – which is when planning for this Cram Jam began. And hopefully we will be able to build on the success of this event.

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