Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to look back and reflect on the year gone by, to make silly best-of lists, to look ahead to the new year and to wax nostalgic. Usually I would do a Top list of albums or movies or books or something, but this year I was struck by how many phenomenal performances and wonderful events we’ve hosted at Imperial Vancouver- my home away from home. So here it is, my best-of-the-year list, with videos(!) followed by some well-deserved shout outs and gushy sentiment. ‘Tis the season, after all.
RJs Top 10 Live Performances at Imperial 2016.
In no particular order:
Vanessa Carlton, 01/14/16
Simplicity and sincerity on an early winter’s eve with just a girl, her piano and accompanying violin. And who doesn’t want to air-piano along to White Houses or A Thousand Miles?
I wasn’t even at this show as I was injured, but after seeing this absolutely stunning encore cover of Bowie’s Life On Mars, I have no doubt this was one of the best performances this year. I am really sad to have missed this one. This girl is destined for superstardom and arenas next.
Lake Street Dive 03/01/16
Right from sound check, I was instantly a new fan of these guys. Incredible musicianship, fun, catchy songs and a playful exuberance made for a lot of fun and a great sold-out concert experience. They also win for cutest and most creative set backdrop of the year.
Music Heals 10/19/16
Purple Rain cover
The grand finale of an incredible evening of performances brought out an all-star lineup of musicians including Jully Black, Gordie Johnson, Chin Injeti and the Lifetimes and featuring the incomparable voice of Tonye Aganaba. This was a really special moment celebrating the life of a legend. I think he’d be proud of this one. .
Chelsea Wolfe 05/29/16
At once hauntingly beautiful and absolutely terrifying, Chelsea Wolfe is like a nightmare you don’t want to wake up from. An enigma. This was one hell of an experience to witness live, loud and in the spooky dark.
Rotting Christ 09/17/16
This was a day that on-paper could not have been any worse (5-band black metal tour with only 3 FOH guys, me solo on the house crew and very overworked) that actually ended on a surprisingly fantastic note. Rotting Christ changed the channel from all the corpse makeup and screaming, frenetic death metal and proceeded to ROCK OUT in a much more melodic, sludgy and endearingly wonderful way. Like when dad shuts off the shitty trap music the kids are listening to, grabs his guitar and blows everyone’s mind with a weird cover of Smoke On The Water.
Margo Price 10/19/16
This one was extra special to me. Margo’s TM/FOH was unable to cross the border for the night which meant I got to mix a touring headliner for a near sold-out audience- that doesn’t ever happen! Margo and her band of Nashville heavies are the real-deal. Straight up roots Americana at its finest, and the nicest group of folks you could hope for. This one was a true blessing.
The Struts 11/09/16
Every now and then what you need is a good party band to play pompous, glam-tinged brit-pop songs and jump around like goofs and The Struts delivered. This crowd was mental and the atmosphere was one of the funnest and rowdiest in recent memory. Good times!
A Tribute To The Band 06/10/16
Variety shows like this one always have their challenges, but a veritable who’s who of Vancouver’s elite musicians like Rich Hope, Barney and Dustin Bentall, Shaun Verrault and The Paperboys were bound to make things that much more enjoyable. A fundraiser for the Fort McMurray fire relief efforts and celebrating the timeless music of The Band- this night made for some really special moments.
Lee Fields and The Expressions 12/07/16
I am at a loss for words for this one, and sadly there is no video but if you were there, you know. This one was special. With the recent passing of Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley’s ongoing health concerns, the torch for keeping soul music alive has been passed to Mr. Lee Fields and we should all be grateful. We are beyond blessed to have had them through our humble venue twice and if by some crazy miracle it should happen a third time, you don’t want to miss out.
Honorable mentions to both Five Alarm Funk (Tayo Branston, Oliver Gibson) and The Boom Booms (Aaron Ross Geordie Hart ) who, through tireless dedication and DIY hard work manage to put on and sell out multiple shows each year. This list wouldn’t be complete without mention of your incredible live shows and amazing fans. Thanks guys!
Now with that out of the way, in the time honored tradition of the inebriated guy who rambles incessantly on at the company party, I want to acknowledge some folks. We are so incredibly lucky to host so many diverse acts and events at Imperial but we should also all take a bow. We do great things and we should all be extremely proud. I can’t thank everyone enough for all of their hard work and tireless efforts in maintaining what is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best live music and events venue in BC, if not Canada. But I will try.
Thank you Chris Ball, Ken Phelan and Crystal Bee- you three are simply the greatest and I can’t think of a better trio of leaders for our team at Imperial. Simply the best.
Thank you Sarah Costa, Kai Johnson, Josiah Ruben, Matt Readshaw, Natalie Cringle Chad Barnstead and the entire Promosa crew for providing and crafting the production magic behind the scenes, for all of the advance and technical support and for being the most amazing crew of creative minds in event production anywhere. I am humbled among giants.
To Justin Wong, Brandon Hestdalen, Stew Fletcher, Carson Hegedus, Doug Short, John Supeene, Fife Williamson, Alexis Douglas, Rick Jansen, Charlie Humphreys, Dean Feser and all the rest of my incredible sound and audio coworkers, thanks for being such a solid crew of pros and for covering me in times of need. You guys are why I love this business.
To Don Thorsness, Jordan Nobel and all of the incredible lighting and visuals wizards who help make each and every event shine with colour and imagination, thank you for being such solid wing-persons in piloting our events.
To David Hawkes and Peter Haley your many efforts behind the scenes are seldom noticed but crucial and wonderfully appreciated. A pair of mostly invisible yet integral pieces of the puzzle. You are both gentlemen and scholars.
To the wonderful Imperial door, coat check and security staff, thank you all for being so kind and inviting and for having the patience of saints when things get challenging. If ever the “Front Fell Off” so to speak, we would sink hard and fast. Emily Whitmell, Niki Babic and Sam Hood you ladies are truly shining stars! Scott Rebelo welcome to the family.
To all of our incredible bartenders and porters who keep the liquor flowing with style and grace and feed me pop and water, and who work tirelessly to keep the bars stocked, glasses clean, ice in the wells and have to deal with all manner of mess at times, your efforts are truly Herculean. Taylor Bamford, Victoria Rosa, Arash Solai, Lindsey Bales, Beau Bennett, Kristy Ayers, Sam Lojek, Brendan Nagel you fine folks are a pleasure to be around at every single event.
To Darrell Stables, Todd Menzies, Simon Fallick, Aaron Chapman, Anna Marie, Marina Jacques, Isaac Terpstra, Rick James Baker, Robert Wilson, Robert Calder and all of the rest of our wonderful promoter and extended production family, thank you for all you do in consistently running smooth and painless events and for making our jobs easy while you do it!
I’m sure I am forgetting somebody, forgive me, but if you’re reading this far then thank you too!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.
Here’s to an even better 2017.
RJ (Head of Sound for Imperial)