Dave Curran with Beluga at the Fairview Pub, July 7 2012. Robyn Hanson photo
Okay, well maybe it’s not so strange. Or terrible.
But Vancouver band Beluga has been kicking around town for over 12 years (at least – records show the group won a battle-of-the-bands contest at the Backstage Lounge on Granville Island in 2000). I’ve probably seen them as many times over the years and I’ll give them one thing; they’re consistent.
On Saturday night, Beluga played their first gig in awhile, though I haven’t really been keeping up and I’m not on their email list (if indeed they have one). I’ve felt a little bit bad for the band in recent years, because it seems to me they were one of the first Vancouver bands to embrace a Pacific Northwest sensibility with their name, only to see their earnest efforts overshadowed in recent years by the likes of Hey Ocean! and Said the Whale, two fish-oriented collegiate acts that probably have never heard of Beluga, or if they did thought it was all a bad dream.
At any rate, the reason I even care about Beluga is that the group’s drummer, Mike, is a good friend – I’ve known him over 20 years now, all the way back to when he and Dave, the lead singer of Beluga, were in another band called Water (who split up when one member went to form Sweaty Cheddar and another went to play bass with Daniel “Had a Bad Day” Powter. That’s Vancouver rock ‘n’ roll for you).
Also Beluga is, on a good night anyway, a hoot. Sure, the setlists have no rhyme or reason – they five-piece will follow a classic rock number, usually by the Who, with an original about Chewbacca going back to his home planet to get laid (“Chewie’s Gonna Get Some Action”) or Evel Knieval (“What’s So Evil About Evel Knieval”). And in truth their original songs often sound like they were born in a hazy practice space when anyone who might have acted as an editor was out buying beer.
Mike Herle and Dave Curran with Beluga at the Fairview Pub, Vancouver, July 7 2012. Robyn Hanson photo
Speaking of beer: on Saturday night, singer Dave mentioned something between songs about “the billion beers” that had contributed to his current form. Indeed, the days when Dave could fit into his Captain Canada costume (probably what you imagine, including cape) could be over. They’re a funny band to see – Dave is animated and a little stocky, Mike is thin and has a bushy head of hair, while the other three guys all have short hair and similar (fit) builds and say nothing, just studiously play their instruments.
But Beluga is still going strong; their version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” was a killer, with Mike nailing Keith Moon’s drum fills. I can’t say I’ll ever be a fan of some of the band’s originals, but the banter between Mike and Dave alone is worth putting up with ”Chewie’s Gonna Get Some Action” or “Golf is Like the Universe”.