Culture  Culture Briefs

P[h]assion and The Two Koreas

Putting your best foot forward

Most of the time, student life is pretty far from glamorous. Tonight, however, is an exception to the Sorels-and-sweatpants status quo: P[H]assion, a non-profit student organization that raises funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS, is holding its annual fashion show. Over the past 15 years, the group has raised over $150,000 for local HIV/AIDS charities; this year’s goal is to pull in a record-breaking $30,000, to be donated to the ACCM (AIDS Community Care of Montreal). But fundraising is only half the story –  “the co-chairs this year, [Jordana Kimel and Traci Tohn], were really keen about educating students about safe sex,” explained Manuella Djuric, P[H]assion’s promotions director. By drawing attention to the importance of sexual health, the committee hopes to prevent transmission of the disease within their own university-aged demographic. “It’s really important to raise awareness,” Djuric stressed.

For the present, money raised by the event will go towards those living with HIV/AIDS in Montreal, through ACCM. Alex Wysocki, the ACCM’s Fundraising and Communications coordinator, outlined “two major facets” to the organization. “One is that we offer support to people who are both affected [by] and infected with HIV,” he told The Daily over the phone, through  services like group support, peer support, and treatment information counselling. The second facet is “education and prevention” among youth. Fundraising events like P[H]assion, Wysocki explained, go toward “something like our Buyer’s Club Food Collective, which doesn’t receive funding from any government body, but is one of our programs with the biggest need.” The Collective offers reduced-priced groceries so that people with HIV, many of whom “are on disability and take a financial hit,” can maintain a healthy diet.

While charity fashion shows have gained a certain amount of popularity, P[H]assion has gained a reputation as one of the biggest. “It just shows that there’s a lot of grassroots going on, and I think that’s really valuable,” Wysocki said. While “grassroots” and “high fashion” might not seem like they’d go part-in-parcel, Djuric explained that student energy helps blend together “a love of fashion and a love for humanity.” At the end of the day, she said, “it’s all young people working together to raise money and get the word out with something that’s fun.” So, despite the evidence that John Galliano recently gave to the contrary, social consciousness in fashion seems to be alive and well.

—Allison Friedman

P[H]assion is tonight at Koko Restaurant  Bar, 8 Sherbrooke O., at 10 p.m.  Tickets are $20 in advance  from the Bronfman lobby between 11:30 and 6 p.m., or $30 VIP on the door. Email for more information.

Indie rock cools down

Self-dubbed as “electric jangular beat muzik,” it seems that the Toronto-based the Two Koreas – like so many of their indie rock contemporaries – are set on redefining conventional music genres. Consider the way in which the band describes its music: “a retro-futurist amalgam of sixties garage-rock primitivism, seventies Kautrock prupolsion, eighties post-punk dynamism, nineties indie-rock irreverence and post-millennial attention deficiency.”

Their third LP Science Island, released last week, signals a shift in the Two Koreas’ sound with the invention of a subgenre to be known henceforth as “glacial garage.” According to the band, glacial garage is “garage rock encased in ice: a frozen tableaux of ray-gunned punk and strobe-lit psychedelia, captured in a state of permanent combustion, floating for all eternity.”

Lead-singer Stuart Bergman discussed the band’s progression towards glacial rock in an email to The Daily, stating that traces of this evolution can be found in their sophomore album (2007’s Altruists) in the form of “a roiling pool of droning guitars and synthesizer swirls.” These elements dominate the new album as the recording’s guiding aesthetic principle. “As the name of our new album, Science Island, indicates, we feel somewhat isolated from any sort of contemporary indie music scene, where the dominant strains these days appear to be sensitive-beardo folk, no-fi garage-punk skronk or ‘80s-obsessed chillwavin’ laptop jockey” wrote Bergman, when asked whether glacial rock fits into or brings something new to the indie music scene. “As such, our brand of high-fidelity, cosmic post-punk rock music feels like something of an anomaly, a circumstance with which we, of course, are entirely comfortable.”

Despite this playful obsession over (sub)generic reconstruction and redefinition, the Two Koreas’ music will surely appeal to those unable to piece together their puzzle of influences. With a hard rock energy reminiscent of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Fever to Tell mixed with Pavement’s vocal drone, the Two Koreas’ upcoming Montreal show is likely to draw a diverse crowd.

—John Watson

The Two Koreas play with Silk Screaming at Il Motore, 179 Jean-Talon O., Saturday 12 at 8:30 p.m. Entrance $8.