As anyone who made it out to the 2017 M.O.M. Cup Saturday night show could tell you, Twelve High Chicks believes in unique entertainment. Notably, the cup was in one place and not a variety of locations. So instead of a cannabis celebrity headlining a dope-friendly dance party, Saturday featured a showcase of Vancouver — and notable Australian — talent. And what talent!

Essie Thomas

Doors reopened at 7:00 pm after the dinner break. I am perpetually fifteen–twenty minutes behind schedule and had already been judging entries all day. But I arrived soon after, full of anticipation. Since I researched and wrote about the international guests, I knew I’d love the first performer of the night. I’d been listening to Essie Thomas on repeat since I’d first opened her SoundCloud account.

We found seating with friends near the stage and strain sampling continued. Then the show started and I could tell who knew what to expect by their huge grins.

Essie Thomas wasn’t booked as an internationally known artist to draw ticket sales. She’s not a cannabis celebrity and her set wasn’t filled with pro-pot music. While she opened with a new prayer/protest song in support of Standing Rock, “Many Colours, One Sun”, she’s a singer of love and loss. But those love songs were why Essie Thomas flew from Australia to Vancouver to play at the 2017 M.O.M. Cup Saturday night.

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The room listened appreciatively and intently throughout the set. People chatted quietly here and there but no one distracted from the music that so perfectly fit the mood of the room. Her acoustic guitar did the work of many instruments (and made me regret giving up playing) providing harmony, beat, and tempo. And her voice did the work of many singers — always distinctively her own but evocatively different for every song.

Throughout the intimate performance in the darkened, hazy room I felt like a character in an old film, a scene set in a stoner version of an old French café/bar. Instead of absinthe there were extracts and the cigarettes were replaced with joints. The music — haunting in the way the memories of lost love can haunt — spoke to me. Although the cosmopolitan feeling could have been from testing all of the hybrid strains already.

If you missed Saturday night and didn’t experience the music of Essie Thomas first hand, do yourself a favour and find her music online.

Vancouver Variety

The second part of the 2017 M.O.M. Cup Saturday night was a variety show with a twist: burlesque, drag, sideshow, and story-time all together. With an unexpected guest performer.

Act 1

Go to enough burlesque shows in Vancouver and you get used to hooting and hollering, clapping and cheering during the dancing. It’s encouraged. Drunk crowds are great at being loud during burlesque. The stoned crowd seemed to much more quietly enjoy the show than I was used to.

But enjoy it we did. How could we not when the burlesque performers mostly tailored their acts for us stoners? It wasn’t just the copious pot smoke in the air that gave me the giggles. For her first number, Roe Butts came on stage starting a “fan dance” using regular-sized fans instead of giant feathered ones. That alone got a chuckle out of me. And she hooked them to her outfit (a neat fix to free up hands) while toking on a giant, glittery (we can assume fake) joint crafted just for the show!

Vivianne Oblivion perhaps isn’t used to causing laughter with her sword swallowing. But when she asked for a helper and Craig Ex from Expert Joints volunteered, we were in for a treat of shocked facial expressions. Especially while he actually pulled the sword from her mouth!

While perhaps not as funny, we were still entertained when for her first number Riannaconda first took to the stage like a Vegas showgirl with her own feather fan substitute: giant glittery pot leaves. 

I could already feel and hear scratchiness in my throat that meant I was going to lose my voice from all my yelling and whooping. Worth it.

Guaranteed amusement when Kitten Puff came on stage to read one of my favourite parodies: Green Buds and Hash. While I own the book (and have reviewed it) I don’t get tired of the Seussical pot nonsense. And with author Dana Larsen in the audience it only made sense to cajole him onto the stage. The two readers made it something special.

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Act 2

And of course it wouldn’t be Vancouver, or a show hosted by the fabulous Symone Says, without her performing a drag number. Then she welcomed Roe Butts back to the stage as a jazz dancing robot. Which was pretty surreal, considering the thick cloud of smoke in the air meant no one needed the joints that we were still passing around. And I’d started in on my indicas during the intermission.

Equally surreal was watching Vivianne Oblivion’s second performance. She came on stage in a tiger print one-piece and started dancing. Just as I wondered if she was go-go dancing to fill time, out came two batons for fire breathing and eating! Amazing performance, but I wonder if we couldn’t have lit a few joints from her exhale.

The variety show completed with a second Riannaconda act. And when a talented burlesque dancer appears to “Low Rider, in overalls and hair bandana and carrying a wooden paddle with “FUH-Q” on it, be prepared to laugh. Coming up onto her stage? That’s a paddlin’.

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Brent Ray Fraser

The final act of the 2017 M.O.M. Cup Saturday night show is still blowing minds. 

I hope I am excused for being both alarmed and amused when a tall, fit, tan dude in RCMP dress uniform stepped onto the stage. I’ve never seen Brent Ray Fraser perform before so didn’t have expectations, but I did assume he’d start painting right away.

Nope! There was a mood that needed setting, and a scene that needed exploring. Poor exhausted Mountie needed to relax, and what better way than with a joint and a wank … over Prime Minister Trudeau!

A Mountie with his hand down his shorts and an massive doobie (this one burned!) gazing lovingly at a portrait of PM JT is kinda weird, but close to burlesque. Ripping off his jodhpurs and not wearing anything underneath them was not. The crowd’s reaction really ramped up at that point.

What I’m still wondering is why it was a T-Rex that woke the Mountie from his post-J.O. dreams to pick up a tube of white paint and a square black canvas. It could be the pot equivalent of cinematic pink elephants or simply a popular and weird discord. Either way, I was laughing so hard I almost missed the actual painting!

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It took time to realize what he was going for: BRF held the canvas sideways while he stroked it (sorry) with his paint covered cock.

Only one minor issue marred the spectacular creation of a true work of art: a missing song in the set. But more music was quickly put on to accompany his finishing touches (not sorry that time) before Brent Ray Fraser revealed a prick-painted portrait of the PM to the crowd.

The artist was absolutely covered in white paint. The crowd was absolutely in hysterics. And the man who had promised to absolutely legalize marijuana, while allowing arrests to continue, never looked so good.

Boner-built black and white art really suits Trudeau’s beautiful, blissfully ignorant image.