THE SICKS’ Annual Sicksmas Party with THE GASTOWN ROYALS

Gastown Royals (photo by Jill Hancock)

19 December 2009 at the Bourbon
Photography by Jill Hancock

Featuring lots of yelling and attitude, an acoustic bass that’s passed around like a hot potato, and the coolest drumsticks I’ve ever seen, The Gastown Royals are an in-your-face country band that doesn’t give a toss whether you like them or not. Drawing inspiration from Johnny Cash and everyday activities (one song is about smoking), their music is sure to satisfy the country-loving heart with a healthy dollop of humour to boot. They formed only six weeks ago, and seem to be taking the local country scene by storm. Don’t feel you have to make the trek to Roosters to get your next country bar music fix, because the Gastown Royals have you covered. At times they are too funny for the intoxication level of the crowd, cracking jokes that may even be above the alcoholic head. After receiving a mediocre cheer from the audience, Rocco DeVille yells, “I didn’t ask if you’ve renewed your library membership, I asked if you were ready for the next song!” The songs are just as funny, and swing dancing ensues on the dance floor. The Gastown Royals couldn’t be more at home at the Bourbon, so make sure you catch their next show if you’re hankering for a little country good-time fun.

It is a Christmas show, after all, so before The Sicks take the stage a three-piece brass band (two trombones and a trumpet) called The Michael Brothers comes out to play Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The crowd sings along, then cheers when the song ends with a flurry of snow. We haven’t seen the last of The Michael Brothers. Brass is making a comeback, after all.

The Sicks (photo by Jill Hancock)

The Sicks (photo by Jill Hancock)

The Sicks intrigue me. An amalgamation of Jack Johnson, country music, and reggae, their following is large in Vancouver and the people in the front row are big fans. I’ve seen them once before, at the Media Club, and the show felt identical. I’m confused by this feeling because I like their music and always have a good time at their show, and yet seeing them more than once takes the magic out of it. They got great use out of the snow machine by inventing a drinking game: “Every time the snow blows, you have to drink!” More magic is lost when a keyboard is used to play steel drum notes. “Mesmerizing” is their biggest crowd-pleaser, and everyone sings along. They have a great rhythm and a good vibe, I challenge anyone not to enjoy their music. Multi-instrumentalist Rowan Palmer keeps himself busy by rotating instruments, since he plays everything from a mandolin to a miniature slide guitar. The Michael Brothers return for a couple of the songs, and all in all it’s an great Christmas party with lots of good cheer.

Their next show is coming up on January 14th at the Venue, when they open for The British Columbians and Rich Hope. That promises to be an incredible evening, since all three bands have received props from Backstage Vancouver. Get more details on our Concert Calendar!

1. Hey Darlin!
2. Stuck in the Rain
3. Rawhide
4. Best To Go
5. Constant Sorrow
6. Ain’t Got Nothing
7. Girls Can’t Fly Jetpacks (Girls can’t fly jetpacks/because they have vaginas/You need a dick to fly a jetpack – Says Rocco, “If you think that’s offensive, talk to my Mum who is in the front row and knows every word of the song!”)
8. Smoke Smoke Smoke
9. I Hate to See You Go
10. Cocaine Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
11. Seen the Light

1. Wagon Wheel
2. Sing Sing Sing

1. Turned Out & Busted
2. Rollin
3. Cynthia
4. You Make Me Nervous
5. The Dredz
6. City Sidewalk
7. We Need More Reggae
8. Good For It
9. Dirty Rock n Roll
10. Enjoy the Ride
11. Mesmerising
12. Hey Catalina
13. That Old Me
14. Stressing Me Out

1. Into the Mystic

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