The Neo-Hippies

March 19, 2010

The box-office failure of Taking Woodstock, director Ang Lee's semi-fictional account of the 1969 music festival, suggests nostalgia for the Age of Aquarius has finally exhausted itself. But that doesn't mean the era's legacy is dead. It simply updated its sound – and, mercifully, its wardrobe. There are scores of contemporary artists who may never have spoken a word of anti-war rhetoric or worn a paisley Nehru robe but whose songs exemplify hippie hallmarks: accomplished musicianship (often demonstrated via extended jams); a propensity for laid-back grooves; and vocals and lyrics whose occasionally daffy nonchalance evoke a rehearsal room thick with bong smoke. Three such acts are coming to Vancouver – a city that has long had a tie-dyed tinge. Gomez (Orpheum Theatre, March 1) emerged as an underdog when every other band in its native U.K. sounded like Oasis. Specializing in a skewed, distinctly British take on American folk-rock, it's consistently managed to fill theatres despite never having had a hit single. Memphis multi-instrumentalist Citizen Cope (Commodore Ballroom, March 30), much like Beck, is a hip-hop enthusiast who worked his way back through that music to its roots in urban blues – he half-sings like a rapper while picking at an acoustic guitar like a farmer. John Mayer (GM Place, April 1) may be better known as a pop balladeer and tabloid boyfriend, but on-stage his six-string prowess has made him a hero to people who would idolize Eric Clapton if only he weren't so damn old. 604-280-4444. Ticketmaster.ca (except Gomez: 1-800-TICKETS; Vancouver2010.com)

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