This year’s best of the best

A&E Editors weigh in on the highlights of the Arts and Entertainment scene in Kingston this past year

Clockwise from top left: Slowdance attendees feel the love, Rocky Horror Show, Zombieland, The Defibrillators’ umbrellas, Beach House, J.Mascis and Klosterman’s Eating The Dinosaur.
Clockwise from top left: Slowdance attendees feel the love, Rocky Horror Show, Zombieland, The Defibrillators’ umbrellas, Beach House, J.Mascis and Klosterman’s Eating The Dinosaur.

Best concert: Dinosaur Jr. with Kurt Vile and the Violators

It’s not every day Kingstonians are treated to the sonic styling of alt rock legends and buzzed about up-and-comers all in one show. That’s just what concert-goers got when Dinosaur Jr. with Kurt Vile and the Violators riffed through town giving welcome cause for ear plugs left, right and center in January. Feedback, distortion and face melting solos were at an all time high at Ale House where a diverse crowd of attendees were drawn. Although Dinosaur’s drummer Murph disappointingly couldn’t make it across the border, the “Just Like Heaven” encore and appearance of favourites like “Little Fury Thing” and “Feel the Pain” helped the crowd get past his absence.

Best art exhibit: “The Defibrillators” by Diane Landry

Showing in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in the fall and early winter, Quebecois artist Diane Landry’s piece The Defibrillators tampered with meanings attributed to the everyday and attempted to bend societal norms. In Landry’s dreamed world multi-coloured umbrellas became surreally breathing flowers, salad spinners were carousels and washing machines were personified.

Opening the span of possibilities in which we view the world, Landry seemed to see things through a kaleidoscopic lens. An added enjoyment was found in a dexterous artist performance in September featuring Landry foraging the terrain of a Canadian map with a sewing machine, leaving only thick black stitching behind to provoke and intrigue audience members.

Best dance party: Slow Dance at Modern Fuel

With our thirst for indie and folk rock usually satiated in the Limestone City, sometimes vinyl is just the ticket. Whether it was at the balloon-filled Modern Fuel fundraiser Slow Dance, or the labyrinth-like laser party Let Her Eat Cake in the basement of the Mansion—rugs were undeniably cut. Dance cards, a photo booth and corsages were complemented perfectly with slow jams by Kingston DJs Haircut, LK and Abdell Drums at Modern Fuel making for a memorable Valentine’s Day.

Best album: Beach House—Teen Dream

There’s nothing quite as soul-shattering as waking up from a truly great dream. Luckily, Baltimore-based duo Beach House gave listeners some music worth staying awake for with their highly-anticipated release Teen Dream in January. With songs ranging from bouncing percussion-based in “Lover of Mine” and “Walk in the Park” to slow starters building accordingly into noisy calls in the haunting “Norway” and “10 Mile Stereo” the record is a captivatingly multi-dimensional one deserving of the hype. Harrowing lyrics basking in the thick rasp of Victoria Legrand’s croons on each track solidify Beach House’s distinct sound and style setting them up for success both in the indie sphere and beyond.

Best interview subject: Henry Fabergé of Henry Fabergé & the Adorables

Staff writer Kate Kilgour knew she was in for a treat when she met Queen’s alum and frontman Henry Fabergé secretly at the Kingston Mill Locks, a rendezvous he said would be far more romantic than over the phone. The interview became increasingly amusing as it did lengthy; Fabergé’s self-proclaimed contempt for music journalism didn’t get in the way of an enlightening conversation. A brash, forward and entertaining enigma, being “charged with the consuming, tiresome duty of educating an inarticulate public about their short comings as a species” is Fabergé’s burden. It’s onus we were more than happy to hear about.

—Ally Hall

Best play: Psycle directed by Lara Szabo Griesman

I have a confession to make, I’m a drama student but I ardently hate most theatre. It’s a contradiction, I know. This school year, however, I saw something some truly amazing theatre. Psycle by Lara Szabo Griesman was part of Vogt B and one of the best plays I’ve seen produced on campus. Vogt, an entirely student-run company, can be hit and miss, but Griesman’s work was like Waiting for Godot for girls. Trapped in a never ending cycle, the female protagonist goes bat-crazy while trying to make a connection with robot-like man. The story doesn’t sound all that foreign. I hope to see more of Griesman’s work one day.

Best book: Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman

For A&E junkies, Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman is a perfect fix. Whether you’re jonesing for some useless knowledge about Kurt Cobain or looking for an in-depth interview with National Public Radio nerd Ira Glass, Klosterman’s got you covered. In what seems to be an attempt to deflect attention and criticism away from himself, Klosterman returns to his old tricks, charming his readers by making obscure connections between seemingly separate subjects and offering his own unique—if not sometimes cynical—outlook on the world. It’s delightfully neurotic read in a string of underwhelming non-fiction this year.

Best musical: Rocky Horror Show directed by Hallae Khosravi

When I first heard Queen’s Musical Theatre was going to be producing Rocky Horror, I cringed a little. With such a popular musical, so many things could go wrong. Luckily, nothing did and director Hallae Khosravi stayed away from Rocky clichés and made the piece her own. Gender-bending and modern twists were put on this production without distracting from the music. By changing the setting to a broken-down theatre, the piece offered a whole new insight to the drama department itself … An amazing performance by Kevin Doe in the lead role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter made this musical truly memorable.

Best music festival: Wolfe Island Music Festival

Wolfe Island, from what I hazily remember, was one of the best musical festivals I’ve ever been to—period. Laid-back doesn’t even begin to describe the festival properly. Islanders, summer students and tourists alike banded together to make Wolfe Island a unique and relaxed festival experience. Unlike mega-festivals, Wolfe Island has very little sponsor visibility, security and well, annoying people. Bands take part in the festival just like all us normal ticket-paying patrons. I sat next to Ron Sexsmith at The Wolfe Island Grill and ripped up the Island Hotel dance floor next to Pitchfork darlings Diamond Rings and PS I Love You. What more could you ask for in a festival?

Best movie: Zombieland Zombieland is the perfect movie. I stole that line from an unnamed photo editor, but it rings true. Zombieland had something for everyone without being broad or unintelligent. Zombie movies are going through a renaissance, which I welcome with open arms, but Zombieland stands on its own. As Journal contributor Jack Young put it, “Fleischer refuses to let action dictate the direction of the film. There were long stretches of time where I almost forgot the film’s zombie-conceit and found myself simply enjoying the atmosphere of a well-directed road movie.” Woody Harrelson is also in it. Enough said?

—Emily Whalen

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