Locals to look out for

This Saturday, Feb. 9 we will get a chance to celebrate a rock n’ roll rebel that has been bringing noise to Winnipeg since she first rolled into town from Vancouver. Yes, Alana Mercer is turning 30 and two of her many projects will be rockin’ the stage at the Windsor. So, let’s use this as an excuse to take a brief look at a few of my favourite acts from Miss Mercer’s past and present.

Her first project in Winnipeg was the Quiffs, who debuted at a time when pop groups ruled the airwaves and rap-metal had yet to wheeze its last breath. The Quiffs reigned over the Albert like some lost gang from The Warriors, with their vintage stage garb and powerhouse riffs. Mercer’s chaotic, thumping drum beats spoke to a generation of Winnipeggers no longer content to be spoon-fed the corporate swill they were getting from so-called “alternative” radio. Sure, they had rough edges, but that was part of the fun – you never knew what was going to happen at a Quiffs show.

Mercer kept busy after the Quiffs, playing in acts like the Gorgon, the High Thunderers, and the Blowholes, just to name a few.

Lately Mercer has been splitting her time between a couple of bands, one of which is Phlegm Fatale – a dance rock duo that is a unique blend of drum loops, soaring vocals, and grungy guitars. They are the perfect expression of the punk rock aesthetic free of the stylistic trappings that have become the straitjacket of that genre.

Then there is Mercer’s solo project, the Gunness, where she steps outside the safe confines of a group and presents her songs stripped down to just a guitar, a kick pedal on a suitcase, and a voice. The inherent intimacy juxtaposed against the fact that she is still playing rock and roll creates a level of suspense that you don’t get from a lot of solo acts.

At her birthday bash at the Windsor you will get the pleasure of seeing two of Mercer’s projects: one being a big ol’ slab of delicious, thundering Winnipeg destruction—with Mercer on bass—called Lazyhorse, and the other band being the Angry Dragons.

If you don’t know the Angry Dragons, I don’t want to know you. They are hands down one of the best rock and roll outfits in the city and have been around for years. The addition of Alana on drums is a brilliant move.

So, if you are free this Saturday, pop on over to the Windsor and raise your glass in celebration of a true Winnipeg trailblazer. If you are busy, cancel your plans and go to the Windsor because you do not want to miss this show.