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Indies unearthed at TWSSF

The Dudes among many stand out festival lineup indie acts



By Nicole Fitzgerald

Who: The Dudes

When: Thursday, April 19, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Skier’s Plaza

Admission: Free

The Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival carts in big names like Sam Roberts, who kicks off the Outdoor Concert Series this Friday, April 13 at 2:30 p.m. on the mainstage in Skier’s Plaza. And in the days to follow, Bassnectar, Stephen Marley, K’Naan, Buck 65 and Finger Eleven are all well-known industry stars who will perform in Canada’s largest free outdoor concert series.

But the festival is not just about showcasing sounds all too familiar, but unearthing lesser-known indies on the verge of hitting the big leagues. Last year’s mainstage concert lineup included Metric, which garnered Best New Band at the Junos this year. And of course Nickleback played one of the early festivals just before the Alberta band hit the big time.

So who might be stepping up to the award podium next year?

My vote would be with The Dudes, taking the mainstage Thursday, April 19.

The Calgary band is more than a decade old, but doesn’t sport any trophies in their alternative rock coffers as of yet — although Scott Ross won Best Moustache in Canadian Rock and Roll at the CBC Radio Bucky Awards this year, and the boys were voted the 45th best band in the world by the Yugoslavian equivalent of MuchMusic, MuzickiCentar, beating out the likes of Nelly Furtado and Phil Collins.

Eat your heart out, Phil.

The hit single Dropkick Queen of the Weekend definitely garners air time with heavy MuchMusic rotation, inclusion on the Falcon Beach and Whistler television series as well as the Rogers MP3 Phone television and radio campaign.

The Prairie band’s bio reads like these Dudes might be one hit wonders, but then you plug in their latest release on Load Music, Brain Heart Guitar, and you wonder why the Yugoslavs didn’t at least give The Dudes top 10.

The album stands on Dan Vacon’s soulful vocals alone. You could melt away in the easy listening from track one to 13, but the rock keeps you conscious with just the right mix of pop sensibilities.

Although catchy and memorable, the lyrics and subject matter roam beyond the usual with everything from the 200 Pound Club, the offspring of Vacon hitting 200 pounds on the scale; to Mom 100, coming up against the mother brigade when dating; to Don’t Talk, reflecting on the women talking during sex phenomenon.

“Comedy has always been a driving force,” drummer Scott Ross said. “We are kind of silly guys. We try not to take ourselves too seriously, but make good rock and roll.”

Although comical in situation, Don’t Talk is more pondering ballad in musical style than stand-up-funny in score. Mom 100 seriously rocks out hard, but you can’t help smirking at lines like: “Leave Friday night, I’m at your door, but you’re not home. No there’s your mother outside hiding, I see her lurk in the shadows. Looks like she’s ready for battle.” The Dudes have nailed down the perfect formula of subtle wit with anything but subtle guitar lines that shake up mainstream grids.

“We made it a soul song,” he said. “A song you can make love to, so you don’t have to talk, just make love to the song.”

You’ll want to make love to the whole album with plenty to talk about, afterwards.

Other indie acts to check out over the festival include Jets Overhead, Tokyo Police Club, Jagua, Zaki Ibrahim and locals Animal Nation and Black Swade.