Last show at Vostok – February 25, 2017
Studio Vostok, Vancouver, BC
w/ Storc, Brass, Waingro, Black Wizard
Allow me to preface this with an acknowledgement of the privilege inherently involved in being able to participate – in any capacity – in the operation of an ostensibly underground creative space/music venue. As anyone that’s spent time in the Vancouver music scene knows, even the completely legitimate ones tend to not have the longest shelf life.
I didn’t set out with the intention of becoming as intrinsically connected to what Studio Vostok came to embody, but I’d be lying if I tried to tell you that I didn’t feel something unspoken drawing us all together the first day I set foot in the newly-secured space. I had been asked to help document its transformation from retail space to a place creatives could call a home away from home. A safe haven, if you will. I brought two cameras, a tripod, and my crowbar, in case someone needed it. As soon as I had the one camera set up on a tripod, autonomously snapping stills at an interval of what I seem to recall was fifteen seconds, I knew I couldn’t simply stand back and look as I watched my friends deal with the first task – one which proved to be somewhat physically demanding – of removing all the porcelain tiles from what was destined to be the wall across from the stage.
Before I even knew it, I was swinging blunt instruments at said tiles, impressed by their resilience. This was definitely more than any of us had bargained for, but with awareness of the facts that struggle is endless, and that all good things are worth fighting for, we pummelled our porcelain protagonists into powder in the name of all that is evil until our hands were bloody. We did the same the next night, and the night after that until the immodest concrete behind it was exposed with all its sins. This set the stage for what the next two months would consist of: a large contingent of countless individuals involved with the Vancouver music scene volunteering whatever spare time was at their disposition to help create what many will continue to refer to as “the best place ever” until a worthy successor is created in its wake.
While all good things must also come to an end, the brief tenure of Studio Vostok helped me realize how strong the bonds that I have with my friends truly are, and how many good friends you make when you spend time in a good place. While working with Art Signified wasn’t exactly new to me at the time, it was time spent here that made me realize to what extent our ideals in terms of creativity are aligned. It gives me no small amount of joy to present a joint photo set from myself and Taya Fraser below.
Before that, a quick play-by-play of the performers:
Storc are arguably the curveball of the evening. Very fitting of a venue this inclusive to give the stage to a band you’ve probably not been subjected to. Weird people having fun abrasively in the best way possible. I’ll bring my own cough syrup next time, though.
Brass are probably the nicest group of obnoxious, drunken, lovable assholes you’ll ever meet, and essentially a litmus test of how rowdy a party’s going to get. If Brass is playing, and they aren’t making you have fun, then you are probably not at the cafe you were supposed to meet your friend at for tea and crackers. Bonus: this was their first show with Claire taking over bass duties. It fucking ruled.
Waingro are possibly western Canada’s best-kept secret when it comes to heavy rock n roll. Always loud, always tight, and always nice as fuck. True ambassadors of what they do. A perpetual salute.
Black Wizard are Vancouver’s premier party band. If you have partied hard at a rock n roll show in Vancouver, chances are, you and at least one of these guys have crossed paths. They will make you stop crying in your beer and guzzle it instead, because that one can you threw at Brass earlier didn’t quite hit Devon in the face the way you wanted it to, and you know you’re better than that.
Studio Vostok is dead. Long live Studio Vostok. The sincerest of thanks to every single person I met and became friends with from being there.