Cori Alfreds and Alicia-Rae Light provide a look at Cram Jam that combines video and photography, the bands and the fans, as they capture some of what happened in Cloverdale in late September. (Video is large.)
They ripped it up in Cloverdale Friday, at one of the biggest KSA-sponsored events of the semester. Kwantlen students and other music fans turned out for headliners Sloan, Daniel Wesley and Ten Second Epic — and other bands — at the all-ages event. We’ll be adding to our coverage over the next few days. To start, here’s a photographic look at some what happened.
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.
â€œWe need to get the first band on now if we want to stay on schedule,â€ said Vanessa Knight, the KSAâ€™s director of events. â€œItâ€™s a festival. Things never run as planned.â€
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 whoâ€™ve named themselves Childsplay start off this yearâ€™s festival with some original songs and a cover of the Ramoneâ€™s first hit single, “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
â€œHow do you feel playing for a bunch of university students?â€
â€œIt was cool,â€ 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. â€œItâ€™s so exciting.â€
Levin Faber, the 13-year-old blonde-haired drummer, adds: â€œIâ€™m allergic to hay, but other
than that it was awesome.â€
Besides the stifling scent of hay bales and horses, as would be expected at a rodeo grounds, the venue couldnâ€™t have been better. If the crowd were larger that is.
â€œWeâ€™re expecting 600, hopefully,â€ 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.For the next several hours, local talent â€“ 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.
â€œWeâ€™re only hoping for it to get bigger and better every year,â€ 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. â€œAn 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,â€ she says.
At 7 p.m., in the beer garden, the atmosphere is buzzing with excitement.
“Who are you here to see tonight?”
â€œObviously, Daniel Wesley,â€ 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.
â€œWe just got here and weâ€™re having an amazing time,â€ 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.
â€œItâ€™s the final day of our tour,â€ says Mariash with a sigh, as the band packs up outside the Agriplex. â€œThis tour with Sloan has definitely been the highlight of our time together as a band.â€
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.
Daniel Wesley, a critically acclaimed singer, songwriter and guitarist won the 2007 Fox Seeds award and had the most requested single in Vancouver, and this is just the beginning for Wesley. Touring with The Trews and opening for Tom Cochrane, Daniel Wesley is making waves across the country with his mellow, beach-style rock music that leaves fans wanting more.
Wesley grew up in Langley, with his older brother, two younger sisters and a little brother. Wesleyâ€™s father worked, while his mom quit her job as a nurse to be a stay-at-home mom. The family had a huge influence on his music.
â€œMy familyâ€™s been fostering kids for 20 years almost. Itâ€™s been a big part of our upbringing,â€ said Wesley. â€œI think itâ€™s really helped us get a good perspective on some things.â€
Wesley first got into music at a young age. He remembers piling into his motherâ€™s Volkswagen van with his siblings, cranking oldies and singing along.
â€œIt was fun times, there was a lot of love in that van,â€ Wesley said. â€œThen Iâ€™d start singing in the shower and just enjoying things like that. My brothers and sisters and I would put on Michael Jackson and weâ€™d wear Michael Jackson jackets and jump around and sing.
â€œIt was just all about love, and music is all about love and it just kind of registered. Then you grow up and realize that some things are more important than other things, and music has been one of the best things in my life.”
Before The Daniel Wesley Band, he was in a heavy rock band and began â€œgetting sick of that type of music. I wanted to do something different,â€ he said.
â€œThis project is like an inspiration of life. Sometimes my life has had dark periods, sometimes thereâ€™s happy periods. And I just want to be a happy person. Sometimes I did bad things to myself and other people, and I just wanted to turn over a new leaf and really do good things, and this whole thing, Daniel Wesley, was the start of it.
â€œI started writing songs that made me happy and they ended up being reggae, beach kind of songs.â€
Wesley finds his inspiration from his family, friends and his girlfriend. â€œIf Iâ€™m happy, and the things in my life are good, then my musicâ€™s going to carry that along,â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s the most important thing to me; having good relationships with the people that mean the most to me.â€
The band was having some difficulties getting along in earlier tours which resulted in changes with drummers, but they think they have finally got it right with Mark Luongo on bass and Josh Carlsen on drums. â€œWeâ€™re all getting to a point now, where we pretty much found the guys that are going to be playing with us,â€ Wesley said.
â€œWeâ€™re going to be doing lots of the States before Christmas, we have our album released in Japan and we want to go to Australia and the U.K.â€
Of all the places Wesley plans to go, he is most excited to see Brazil. His brother lived in Brazil for a year, and Wesley missed out to work on his music, which paid off in the end.
â€œItâ€™s a really new chapter for us,â€ said Wesley. â€œIt will be really cool once it becomes more of a worldwide thing, but just because I want to see the world, just like everyone else.
â€œI want to have a career as a musician, and I want to make the best music I can make. I think the best musicians are the people that end up being famous. Itâ€™s something Iâ€™m willing to cope with. I think Iâ€™m a capable person of dealing with it, but itâ€™s not something Iâ€™m really looking forward to or looking for.â€
At Cram Jam, Wesleyâ€™s voice penetrates the Cloverdale Agridome. He breaks only to take a sip of beer or to change his guitar. When Wesley performs, itâ€™s hard not to notice the swooning girls, and itâ€™s not just because of his tattooed arms or curly blonde hair; itâ€™s his flawless voice.
â€œI see some familiar faces,â€ he says, before pulling out his first guitar, which is just one out of the four he will use. He begins to sing and the crowd sings along with him.
â€œI like it because they sing our songs with us. When that started happening for us, that was really, really neat,â€ said Wesley. â€œItâ€™s something Iâ€™ve always wanted.â€
Ten Second Epic, the Edmonton rock-and-roll band, got the crowd off the bleachers with songs from their album, Count Yourself In at Kwantlenâ€™s Cram Jam Friday. If you havenâ€™t heard of them yet, you should count yourself in.
With three music videoâ€™s getting airtime on MuchMusic, performing on Much on Demand and MTV in Canada, Ten Second Epic is ready for more. Their new album, Hometown, will be released in January.
The band started six years ago. Patrick Birtles (drummer) met Andrew Usenik (singer) at school. Birtles lived in the same neighbourhood as Craig Spelliscy (guitar) and they grew up playing music together. Spelliscy went to a different high school and met Sandy MacKinnon (bass) who knew Daniel Carriere (guitar.)
Everyone thought â€œwe work, we get along, and we can write music together,â€ said Patrick Birtles. â€œThis is going to happen.â€ And it did. Ten Second Epic are now full-time working musicians.
Birtles remembers the first time a Ten Second Epic song was played on radio. He sang along and air drummed to the beat while driving in his car. â€œI felt kind of like a tool celebrating my own song so much,â€ he laughs, â€œbut you got to do what you got to do.
â€œEvery milestone becomes its new highlight,â€ said Birtles. â€œWhether itâ€™s hearing your song on the radio for the first time or seeing your music video on TV for the first time. It just sort of trumps the radio thing and then you have an interview live on MuchMusic. Itâ€™s even one more step.â€
Ten Second Epic currently tours in a van and they’ve learned to stay out of each otherâ€™s way, but theyâ€™ve also learned â€œhow to piss people off really easily,â€ he jokes. When the band fights, itâ€™s mostly about who gets to ride shotgun. â€œItâ€™s always really stupid things and we always feel dumb for doing it.â€
The band memberâ€™s girlfriends are understanding of life on the road. â€œYou come home from tour with a pretty high phone bill but thatâ€™s about the worst of it,â€ said Birtles.
Without their friends and families support, Ten Second Epic doesnâ€™t think they would have accomplished what they have.
Success does have its downfalls. â€œMy friends are proud of me, but itâ€™s tough because Iâ€™m on the road so much,â€ said Birtles. â€œItâ€™s almost alienated myself from some of my friends. I feel bad, but itâ€™s something Iâ€™ve committed myself to.â€
Ten Second Epic has just finished recording its second album and, Birtles said, â€œitâ€™s simplerâ€ but didnâ€™t come easily at first.
They wrote and recorded the whole album and scrapped it. â€œWe felt like we achieved the same we already experienced, and we wanted to go further than that,â€ he said. They rewrote the album from scratch and think itâ€™s bigger and better. â€œItâ€™s an experience I wouldnâ€™t change for the world,â€ said Birtles.
Through their six years together, and their latest album, theyâ€™ve â€œlearned to play together as a band,â€ said Birtles. â€œA cohesive unit, as opposed to five different members just contributing to a song.â€
Ten Second Epic gets the crowd moshing with their high energy show. MacKinnon and Spelliscy bang their ’80s rock-and-roll hair to the beat, while Usenik bounces around the stage, belting out every lyric without running out of breath. Birtles claims that he still gets nervous before every show, but you canâ€™t tell.
It is clear that Ten Second Epic lives up to their reputation of a band headed for the spotlight. â€œIâ€™d love to be famous. How can you hate some random person coming up to you and asking for an autograph?â€ Birtles said. â€œItâ€™s like, the greatest feeling in the world.â€
Itâ€™s been 15 years since Sloanâ€™s first album went gold in Canada and, 10 albums later, Sloan is still rocking like itâ€™s 1993.
Two years after the Canadian band from Halifax formed in 1991, Sloan debuted its first full-length album, Smeared. Their 10 albums include such hits as If it Feels Good Do it, The Good in Everyone, Underwhelmed, All Used Up, The Rest of My Life and Money City Maniacs.
On Sept. 26, Sloan was the headliner at the Kwantlen Student Association’s Cram Jam, one of the many stops on the tour to promote the band’s latest album, Parallel Play. By Oct. 1, Sloan will have done shows in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Jay Ferguson, vocalist and guitarist, said that over the years itâ€™s gotten easier for the band to get along on the road. â€œItâ€™s like a family; you have to learn not to get on anybodyâ€™s nerves.â€
Today Sloan has the Internet on the tour bus, â€œso we donâ€™t talk to each other that much any more,â€ he jokes.
The Internet isnâ€™t the only addition to the bus. Ferguson said, â€œKids seem to be the main difference,â€ between touring now and a decade ago. â€œEveryone has kids or a home,â€ he said. The band members miss their kids a lot while theyâ€™re touring.
Sloan has traveled the world, making stops in Australia, Japan, Europe, Spain and the U.S. One of the band’s favourite destinations is Japan. Ferguson said the band loved the culture shock of Japan, and the fans that waited for them at their hotel. The fans gave them presents and sang along to their songs word for word. He said, â€œIt was like a mini-version of Beatles mania.â€
Sloanâ€™s sound is unique, with a mixture of The Beatles sound and some harder rock and roll. Theyâ€™re â€œa do-it-yourself kind of group,â€ said Ferguson. On each record, each of the members of the band has written three or four of their own songs.
It may have been hard for a Canadian band from Nova Scotia to make it internationally in the ’90s but itâ€™s getting less difficult. â€œThereâ€™s so many Canadian bands that have done well internationally,â€ said Ferguson, largely because of touring and then word-of-mouth through the Internet. â€œI mean you still have to be good, make good records, put on a good show.â€
â€œItâ€™s not like weâ€™re the new, hot band on the block,â€ said Ferguson, â€œso it is a little more difficult. We make good records and have an awesome fan base. Thereâ€™s no records Iâ€™m not proud of.â€
The ’90s was a decade of one-hit-wonders and grunge. â€œMany of our peers from the early ’90s broke up,â€ said Ferguson. â€œThe fact that we exist is our greatest accomplishment.â€
Before Ferguson gets off of the red velvet couch, he said, â€œI hear the fries at the venue are fantastic!â€ While Ferguson looks forward to the fries, the fans in the audience look forward to a taste of Sloan.
At one point, a pumped-up fan begins crowd surfing, shoving himself towards the front. Patrick Pentland, guitarist and vocalist, says, in true rock-star style, â€œIf you come over here, youâ€™re out, okay?â€
As the band plays, Ferguson dodges a flying shirt, thrown up by a female fan, and condom balloons bounce from person to person inside the CloverdaleÂ Agridome. Seventeen years later, and Sloanâ€™s still got it.