Bif Naked (Acoustic Show)
Kamloops Convention Centre
May 29, 2010
By Donna Mair
First off I have to admit I’ve never seen Bif Naked perform. Which is surprising considering I’ve lived in Vancouver all these years, but it’s just never happened until last night (in Kamloops of all places). I arrived at the venue (Kamloops Travel Lodge Convention Center) about 45 minutes early to pick up tickets and grab some eats, but decided to stand in line instead when I ran into three really cool fans. Chris and Vanessa were local, and Sonia was visiting all the way from Montreal. As we stood and chatted, even the security fellow at the door got in on our conversation about Bif Naked. The minutes slid by quickly until it was time for him to stamp our hands, take our tickets, and open the doors. The mad rush ensued; each person trying to get their choice spot near the front – but as the venue was Theatre Style seating (tiered), there was not one bad seat in the house.
We had about a half hour wait till showtime – just long enough to grab a drink from the bar inside the theatre, and check out the merch. I always try to buy an artist’s CD at a live show, as I know that a higher portion of the monies goes directly to the artist rather than the record store etc – and so I purchased Bif’s ‘The Promise’. The bonus of purchasing it at the show was that Bif had taken the time to autograph each and every copy of her album specifically for last night’s audience! Nice touch.
The show started about 10 minutes late when Bif’s guitarist, Jacen, came on stage and sat on one of the two stools, said hello, and started playing. After a few minutes, he encouraged us to coax the metal princess out from the wings and with an increase in cheers and whistles, Bif came into the stage lights, carrying a vase of flowers (which she told us later she stole from the wedding reception across the hallway). With a shy hello to the audience, she plopped herself down on the second stool and cut into ‘Fuck You 2’ in such a cute endearing way that was delightful to watch. I’ve heard this song on her website so I was somewhat familiar with the studio version but was surprised at how well it sounded acoustic – Bif’s voice is strong, clear, and melodic, and it doesn’t take an entire backup band to make her sound good! The audience of course, sang the chorus and so started a fantastic night of two way fun between audience and artist.
About 4 or 5 songs into the show (which was also scattered with tidbits about each song, and impromptu sharing of personal and creative info), Bif was sadly resigned to the fact that none of the audience knew of her ‘new tradition’ where she would let us toss questions up on stage and she would answer them. One fan in the front row waved a piece of paper and Jacen picked up on it letting Bif know someone had a question, which led to the littering of the stage with notes written on scraps of bank deposit slips, paper towel, and whatever people could find in pockets and purses to write on! People would tiptoe up to the front trying not to disturb the next song, trying not to block people’s views in the front, and toss the scrap at Bif’s feet, until one fellow broke the ice and leaned as far as he could to personally hand her his note. Bif too helped break down that invisible security fencing between audience and performer with her wit and humor and the sharing of things like the fact she was having a hot flash, speaking openly of her post chemo ‘Astro Boy’ look on the album cover (as she played with her now longer, straightened hair), and relating how Beth became Bif and why she took on Naked.
In between songs, she shared that she’s just as human, screwed up and frail as the rest of us, and these songs bore proof that we are ‘all in this together’ as they touched on such subjects as the remarriage of her father, her first marriage to a relative stranger, being sick while doing cancer treatments, and wanting to make the world around her a better place. The band took a short break, allowing us to refresh our drinks, buy more merch, and wander around to stretch our legs – and something unusual happened. The venue announced that we all – I mean ALL – were invited upstairs to the lounge after the show for free appies and a chance to meet Bif and Jacen in person.
Break time over, and ‘Tango Shoes’ (one of my favorite older Bif Naked songs) was first up followed by a few more I was unfamiliar with, and interspersed with a few more select questions – including one that read ‘I’ll show the audience my arse if that helps’. The mystery was solved when Bif flipped the paper over to reveal the fellow’s request to have his wife and Bif do a photo together – ‘and I’ll show the audience my arse if that helps’. Much to the delight of the wife (and the audience), Bif posed quickly with the lady for a photo op on stage, then jumped back into ‘Spaceman’ which was shouted out as a request by an entire group of people in the audience.
Other songs included My Daddy’s Getting Married, My Bike, Vampire, Crash and Burn, Blue Jay, Welcome to the End, My Innocence, River of Fire, Honeybee (written in her kitchen), Lucky, Chotee (and I’m sure I missed a few).
Bif Naked has long been considered a Metal Princess in the Rock world and I had no idea what to expect for an acoustic show. I was impressed not only with her vocal abilities and stage presence, but also with her personality and rapport with her audience. She has a quirkiness to her that is engaging and endearing and a quiet strength that is apparent even through the hyperactive energy. There is something truly special about seeing an artist in a smaller more intimate setting where they can see each person in the audience, where they can focus on fun instead of sound and lighting and security issues, where they let loose and just be themselves. Not many acts, in this day of pro-tools and vocal enhancement, can cut it with just a guitar and a backup vocalist! Bif holds her own and then some! If you have a chance to see Bif and Jacen – what are you waiting for?