Classes were clapping along to Stevie Wonder and rocking out to Nirvana when Nelson’s Wassabi Collective came to town Wednesday, April 25. Finishing the last leg of their ankle-biter tour, the musical group brought a whole lot of sound to Nakusp’s two schools.
The group has been playing to a different, much shorter crowd than their usual for the last two weeks, touring schools throughout the Kootenays from Creston to Kaslo, to New Denver and Nakusp, and it sounded like a happy change.
“Usually we play at festivals and bars,” said singer-drummer Jimmy, “It’s really great to play for you kids.”
Both the band and kids were styling: lots of bright spring colours in the crowd with a sprinkling of fauxhawks to match the Nelson style on stage in front of the basketball hoops. It was pretty neat to see a live band set up and ready to go on the abstract technicolour gymnasium floor. The musicians were cool, alright, but also just spazzy enough to get the kids into the show.
Starting off with an electric hula hoop extravaganza didn’t hurt either. Mesmerized by the glowing blue hoops, the crowd was ready for anything to happen next.
Students from Edgewood and Burton kicked it with the NES kids, literally, when the band got the whole room stomping in time. Starting their educational tour through
the different kinds of instruments, the band gave out shaker eggs and got the kids to stomp their feet like a bass drum and clap their hands like a snare. The teachers and assistants got into the groove just as muchas the kids, and in some cases even more.
Drummers Melissa and Jimmy put the audience through their percussive paces, and then it was on to the bass guitar, played by “Cool Megatron 650.” Vibrations got down, so low down that it almost did give you a stomach ache like Jimmy said.
Next up were the keys, played by Rahj who had sampled the Bieber, and could play his voice at any pitch.
“Let’s hear what Justin Bieber will sound like when he grows up,” said Jimmy, and Rahj obliged, playing a super deep version of his voice. “Sounds more like dinosaur Bieber,” joked Jimmy.
“Gisto” played guitar, an electric one outfitted with effects pedals which warped the sound into shapes sounding anything but guitarish. A splash of jazz was introduced, and the gig toured through reggae, funk and electronic, a real hit with the kids.
“Do you know what dubstep is?” asked Jimmy, who was answered with cheers. Who knew there were so many dubstep fans attending to Nakusp Elementary? A significant number of youngsters in the crowd also raised their hands when Jimmy asked “who are the aliens,” another surprise for the afternoon.
The kids just loved it when Melissa split the seated listeners into two groups and got each side to holler to see who was the loudest. How often does that happen in the classroom?
At the end of a quick Q and A where audience members learned that the band had been together for ten years, had met in London, Ontario and were named after the sushi condiment they love so much, one boy asked “How loud can you play?”
“A lot louder than we played today,” said Jimmy, innocently adding fuel to the fire.
The room broke out into spontaneous chanting: “do it, do it, do it.”
I’d like to tell you what happened next, but this reporter sneaked out of the gym before a hurricane of noise was unleashed.