Our Music, Our Time

In Vancouver these various musical tribes all came together to support the new wave of artists. One of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever seen took place at the Commodore Ballroom and featured the Specials. The band was in Vancouver as the supporting act for the Police, who had sold out the PNE Garden Auditorium in February 1980, The Specials announced from the stage that they would play a last-minute gig at the Ballroom the following night. Word travelled quickly, especially the next morning at Mimodo’s café, where most of us started our day. This was a café just off Robson Street where many musicians and artists hung out. The reason? It was cheap: bacon, eggs, toast, and a bottomless cup of coffee for $3. It also was the place where most of the news about artistic goings-on was traded. (There was no Twitter or Facebook to announce last-minute events. It was all word of mouth.) The Commodore Ballroom sold-out (capacity: 1,000), and the energy that night was pumping. The band’s 1979 self-titled debut album defined the two-tone ska revival; however, we didn’t know what to expect in concert, as we had never seen the band on television and this was their Canadian headlining debut. The multi-piece, multi-race group hit the stage with ferocious enthusiasm and just kept getting more energetic as the set continued. The crowd bounced continually on the famous spring-loaded dance floor, and if you watched from afar the audience was heaving en masse, like a pulsating heart. This was why New Wave was exciting. All of this had come together in twenty-four hours. Nobody outside the scene knew the band. They were ours. This was our music. This was our time.