Special to the VANCOUVER SUN

VANCOUVER – Spurred by the ongoing dialogue about the global financial recession, a group of independent musicians will play free street shows for the public tomorrow night at undisclosed locations in the downtown east side. 

The location of the “bank crawls” remains a secret for now. While they’re playing acoustic, unplugged sets, the entire event is enshrouded by secrecy due to noise concerns and the fear of sabotage. Three bands will play at three different banks, and a fourth set will be an electric show whose venue will be announced at the end of the third set.

Harlan Shore, 18, is the head organizer of the Dancing in Our Debt event. A recent graduate from Kitsilano Secondary School, he now owns a R-R-Records, an independent music label, and is the singer for the folk-alternative group Search Parties who will be playing at the show. The driving impetus of the project is to  provide a creative, musical expression for Vancouver’s relationship with money.

The ticket

The ticket


Shore says that he’s tired of the incessant, dreary dialogue about bailouts, stimulus packages, and investments being lost down the abyss of the recession. “All people think about is money,” he explains. “We can have fun without money. Let us take it to the bank; let us dance in our debt,” he scribbles on old bank statements.

Shore’s goal is remove the barriers between individuals and their financial concerns. “I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately, and about how my friends and family obsess about it too. Everyone’s feeling the impact of the economic crisis,” he said. 

Originally hailing from Vancouver, the band list includes a myriad of genres, bridging the gaps between jazz, rock and ethereal explorations. Despite his youth, Shore is a seasoned indie musician whose collaborative projects enabled him to carefully choose the artists for Dance in Our Debt project. “I really wanted a list of bands whose music would be really good to dance to,” Shore says. 

Collapsing Opposites, a quirky alternative rock group that sounds like the Canadian response to Built to Spill are set to open the first part of the four part event. Buffaloswans will be bringing in their trademark country-psychedelic hybrid genre to the mix, alongside the Bible-belting Chris-a-riffic’s spiritual explorations of faith and hope, to name a few.

“I know a lot of these bands personally, so I chose the ones that were the most diverse. There’s going to be a lot of atmospheric music, indie-pop styles, and more experimental saxophone-heavy styles too,” Shore says.

Besides the situational irony of playing recession-relief music in front of financial institutions, Shore explains how creativity can change a space. “The bank is where money is really present, and I want to transfer this space into a positive one. People are encouraged to think that the bank is only a stressful place, but that’s because we give it that importance and power over us.”

“I think we can pull it off. Don’t you want to see somebody dancing in front of an ATM machine for once?”