On July 8th, the Rickshaw Theatre will celebrate its 7th anniversary with a loaded, soulful bill featuring Seattle bands Pickwick and the Dip and homegrown talents No Sinner and SAVVIE. Whether these names share long histories with the venue or are making their Vancouver debuts, together, they represent what the Rickshaw is all about: presenting diverse musical styles and providing up-and-coming artists with opportunities to play on a big stage.
“The feeling of elation is palpable for some of these bands,” venue owner Mo Tarmohamed says of musicians who, “after toiling in relative obscurity playing smaller venues for years, get the chance to experience a big stage, expert sound mix, and rockstar lighting.” He hopes the Rickshaw can, in any way, serve as a catalyst that helps young artists further their futures in music. “It’s always rewarding to hear bands, both local and touring, say things like, ‘I can’t believe I’m playing on the same stage as Thurston Moore, the War on Drugs, Misfits, the Sonics, etc. once did.”
Torrid blues-rocker SAVVIE knows this elation firsthand. She had only played one show at the Rickshaw (last December with Youngblood and Legs Occult) before Mo asked her to join the anniversary bill. “Those are the simple little things that really make you feel good – someone liking what you do and wanting to support it, understanding that it takes time, and a community, for new bands to grow into headliners. I think the Rickshaw team really gets that, and that’s a great thing for the Vancouver music community.”
The Rickshaw also prides itself on presenting an eclectic mix of live music and forgoing DJ club nights. “The Rickshaw is one of the very few venues remaining, of its size, that is dedicated to… providing and producing quality live shows without compelling patrons and bands to leave early to accommodate dance music,” Mo says.
“I did not want the venue to be pigeonholed for any one specific genre. My goal was to make it inclusive and accessible. Our marquee board can be quite interesting: we may have a thrash metal band listed one night, right next to a belly dancing showcase the following night, right next to a comedy show, right next to an alternative indie rock band.”
SAVVIE praises the Rickshaw for its range in programming.
“The versatility of the Rickshaw has always been so great. There’s not many places that can pull off having a metal night following a folk night and have both feel right at home.”
The Dip exemplifies Mo’s commitment to showcasing new talents even more than SAVVIE does. The horn-driven ensemble, which has never played in Vancouver before, contacted him a few months ago searching for a booking. “The Pickwick show came to mind right away,” Mo says. “The music is complementary: the Dip is more funk and soul whereas Pickwick is more R&B and soul.” Furthermore, he adds, “it so happened one of the members of the Dip actually played on Pickwick’s debut album.”
SAVVIE and the Dip both share budding relationships with the Rickshaw, but of course, an anniversary celebration would not be complete without old friends.
Bloozy rock ‘n’ rollers No Sinner have played the Rickshaw more than any other band, “with the possible exception of Black Wizard,” Mo estimates. Singer Colleen Rennison has also performed solo at the theatre on a few occasions. “I’d like to think that the Rickshaw is a second home for Colleen and No Sinner.”
Pickwick was an easy, even obvious, choice for headliner. A friend of Mo’s in Seattle introduced him to their music in 2010, before Mo even owned the Rickshaw. After being more than “blown away” by their Bumbershoot set the following year, he recalls: “I spoke to the band after the show and suggested that they play at my newly acquired venue in Vancouver. A few months later, I got a hold of their agent, and the band played their Vancouver debut concert at the Rickshaw in July 2012.” Pickwick has played the Rickshaw only once more, in 2013.
Join the celebration on July 8th, when the spirits are high, the music is smoky, soulful, raw, and rocking, and the liquor most definitely flows. Here’s a toast to at least seven more years for Mo Tarmohamed and the entire Rickshaw Theatre crew.