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The Fugitives: “Montreal has figured out the whole wet sock/ dry sock issue”

Vancouver slam poetry group hosts a musical orgy – complete with handclaps, banjo and melodica

“A journalist is simply someone who has a good memory.” These words began Vancouver performative outfit The Fugitives’ set at L’Inspecteur Epingle on Wednesday, March 12. Ironically, I may be misquoting them slightly – something band member Brendan McLeod has given me permission to do. I hesitate to definitively categorize the group’s performance. The Fugitives’ show was a child of dubitable parentage: a banjo, melodica, slam poetry, handclaps, joy, and frustration were only a few of the participants in their musical orgy. Adler – wielder of the melodica and a recognized figure in the Vancouver Poetry Slam scene – graciously allowed me to probe her mind.

The McGill Daily: How did you get into performing poetry?

Barbara Adler: I went to an event to see beat poetry done by a guy who literally wore black turtle necks and berets, and did poems over bongo drums and saxophones. Luckily, I was more impressed by the peformance put on by the Vancouver Poetry Slam team, which had R.C Weslowski, Shane Koyczan, CR Avery and Cass King. They promoted the slam, and I went out to see it. I ended up writing a paper on slam poetry for a class I was taking, and listened to a track so many times that I started to have the feeling I just have to do this.

MD: What is your power animal? Is your onstage power animal different from your regular, everyday power animal?

BA: I actually think that it’s a little gauche to ask what someone’s power animal is. You aren’t really supposed to say, especially if it’s crucial that your power isn’t diluted. I will tell you though that my regular power animal naps a lot more than my onstage power animal. My onstage power animal might be a member of the ungulate family (can’t tell you which one, but that group includes deer, moose, elk). It is alert, fleet-footed, and wary.

MD: What song best captures your present mood?

BA: There’s that Bright Eyes song, I think it’s just called “Travelling Song,” off the album that I think is called I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. I know, I know, it’s obvious, but I am travelling right now, so it fits. Plus he sounds tired all the time, which I can relate to in general.

MD: If Vancouver were a person, what would he/she be like? What about other cities you’ve visited on tour?

BA: Oh man, Vancouver is definitely a Mountain Co-op junkie on a constant mission to keep their feet dry. This makes them earnest, a little bumbly, and too busy to go inside and catch some culture. We’ll just say that Montreal has somehow figured out the whole wet sock/dry sock issue a little better, and is therefore capable of being the drop-dead-gorgeous woman or man on the camping trip who is somehow wearing leopard print tights and high heels and not looking uncomfortable at all. In fact, she or he probably set the tent and chopped all the fire wood. And is smoking, and will probably not get lung cancer. I know this is a stereotype, but it’s coming from a place of sheer awe. Vancouver is neat too – eating granola and high-fiving seals and stuff.MD: But seriously, it’s hard to look cool doing any of that if you are constantly worried about your feet being wet. Or maybe that’s just me.

MD: Does Montreal seem like a person you might like to date?

BA: Obviously. Why are you even asking that? Is that an offer?

Barbara Adler is “on a personal mission to make our band come up higher than the FBI Most Wanted Fugitives website on Google.” Help her live the dream by going to

– compiled by Madeline Coleman