Living on the edge

By Christine Cheung

They came tattooed,
hemped, tank-topped, and pierced.

And at Edgefest ’99, they found the rockaholic abuse they craved:
abrasive ranting from bands, a thrashing mosh pit, and physical, and musical

This year’s Edgefest did not disappoint, but it didn’t surprise
either. While it succeeded in satisfying the masses’ hunger, it failed
to awe. The most radical bands of the day were the semi-successful hip-hop
stylings of the Rascalz and lightweight boppers Len on the village stage.

Beach balls aside, the crowd was restless to hear the sound they’ve
been accustomed to: hard-edged guitars and aggression release, not wave-your-hands-in-the-air

In previous years, many of the bands were content to go on loud and vague
since the criteria for the day was moshability. For bands like Wide Mouth
Mason and Vertical Horizon, chaotic guitar riffs, angst and a volume that
allowed fans to literally “feel” the music was as creative as
it got.

To be fair, it had its moments; Edwin’s heat buster “Trippin”
and its mellifluous ending summoned cheers even from the distant stands.
Unfortunately, such moments were scarce and it was clear that music was
not the focus of the festival.

Instead, Edgefest was more about the experience of an outdoor festival.
It was a chance to relax in the sun, get hosed down with water, people
watch and catch some bands in action. As a result, most bands were memorable
for their stage antics and not their music. Case in point, Mathew Good
Band’s gorilla masks, Finger Eleven’s energy and David “Bam
Bam” Usher’s body surfing. Even Silverchair’s raging set
was eclipsed by derogatory remarks and swearing from their vocalist, Daniel

“I’m not scared of anyone who fucks cows for a living,”
he threatened from behind the security guards. The crowds’ response?
Mosh harder.

But the most successful act of the day by far was Hole. Arriving in cowboy
hats on a red curtained stage complete with a Canadian flag, Hole ripped
out the cloudless Albertan sky with “Violet.” They played a
surprisingly long, potent set comprised of Live Through This familiars,
songs off of Celebrity Skin and great (and not so great) additions including
their cover of Gun’s and Roses’ “Paradise City.” And
to top it all off, notorious lead Courtney Love, the girl with the most
cake, shared some with her fans in celebration of her 35th birthday.

But of course, Hole would not be Hole without some hot air from Love who
bashed a certain female rival music festival.

“So would you rather be at Lilith?… I can play a Sarah song,”
said Love in a sing-song voice. “My hands are small I know….”
she quoted, leading into the jaded “Doll Parts.” Tag team Sarah
and Jewel.

Ironically, unlike David Usher, Love did not appreciate the interpretive
art going on in front of her. “It’s 1999. We’re not Soundgarden.
Stop moshing! It’s over,” she shouted to no avail. It was a
reminder of why Edgefest will not return next year. When the grunge queen
herself recognizes it’s time to move on from what she helped put
in motion, it’s time to move on.

In the end, they left deafer, dirtier and redder than when they first
arrived, but they definitely got what they wanted.

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