Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Originally I wanted to review every album I bought/otherwise listened to this year. Clearly, I've slacked on that. Partially cos there have been a lot of albums that, for whatever reason, I don't feel like writing a full review for. So what I have decided to do is give a few really quick reviews all at once.... in haiku form. Here we go!
And yes, I am trying to finish off the reviews of this years albums as quick as possible, so that's why there has been (and will be) a barrage of album reviews.

Pink Strat by Bahamas
(debut solo LP from Afie Jurvanen, who has played for the likes of Feist, Jason Collett, Hayden, Zeus, The Stills and more)

After supporting
Afie steps in the spotlight
For his time to shine

Download Already Yours by Bahamas

Invisible Republic by Young Galaxy
Some moments it soars
Yet others, not so much
A bit less dreamy

Download Firestruck by Young Galaxy

Armistice by Mute Math
Just like their debut
With more, needless, production
Bit of a let down

Download Backfire by Mute Math

No One's First and You're Next EP by Modest Mouse
A bunch of outtakes
Were left out for a reason
Just seems like filler

Download Perpetual Motion Machine by Modest Mouse

Bay of Pigs EP by Destroyer
Thirteen and a half
Twists and turns and genre shifts
Simply amazing

Download Bay of Pigs by Destroyer

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nice, Nice, Very Nice by Dan Mangan

To say it's been a stellar year for Vancouver's Dan Mangan would be putting it lightly. The release of his latest album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice has earned him loads of awards and acclaim, including the XM Verge Award for Artist of the Year and winning big at the R3 Bucky awards for both Best Vocals and the top prize, Best Song for his song Robots. Probably best pegged as an indie-folk-singer-songwriter, Mangan never falls back on the clichés of those genres that would make his music all too easy... and generic. He soars above with his acoustic guitar, his voice that sounds well past his 26-years and intelligent song writing & sense of humour to prove that all the acclaim that he has received this year has been well earned.

"Road Regrets" kicks off the album and pretty much sets the tone, lulling you in before "Robots" fully grabs you. A brilliant & amazingly catchy tune, I defy anyone with a soul not to join in the sing along at the end (especially at live shows). "The Indie Queens Are Waiting", featuring Veda Hille, is a touching number which proves he's not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve & reveal insecurities. I can't be the only one who can relate to lyrics like "Bus down to the local record store / to buy something to make you like me more" (which, incidentally, is one of my favourite lines of the year). "Sold" is a looser, more high energy & upbeat song before things get epic with "Fair Verona". Loosely based off Romeo & Juliet (as the title suggests), it is absolutely heartfelt and full of so much raw emotion that when the song climaxes into a sweeping, majestic end it almost leaves you drained. The awesomely titled "You Silly Git" is another sweet song which features some fantastic strings. "Tina’s Glorious Comeback" will be an instant favourite of anyone who knows Vancouver or the culture and "Et Les Mots Croisés" is another nice, strings-y song, which leads into "Some People", a song brimming with energy. "Pine For Cedars" is another melancholic beauty, but this one has a couple pun-filled lines that are, again, quite Vancouver specific which shows even when baring his soul, Mangan is not without a sense of humour and whimsy. The shining point of the album is definitely "Basket", a heart-wrenching song that will bring a tear to the eye of even the most jaded hipster; however it's not without its optimism. Finally, it comes to a close with "Set The Sails", a near perfect way to end the album, bringing everything down with some light piano and strings.

There is an interesting symmetry to the album, at least with the opening and closing tracks. "Set The Sails" is as perfect a closer as "Road Regrets" is an opener and "Basket" is as heartbreaking as "Robots" is joyous. This just goes to show the range of Mangan's songwriting and his lack of fear when letting his emotions out. With as much hype that now surrounds Mangan, it would be easy to write him off as over hyped or unworthy of all the attention, but both the album and his live show more than proves Dan Mangan lives up to the acclaim with the superb and intelligent songwriting. It is safe to say, Nice, Nice, Very Nice is one of my favourite albums of the year.

(Also, I am somewhat proud of making it through the review without making the obvious [and overused] "Nice, Nice, Very Nice" pun!)

Download Fair Verona

Download Pine for Cedars

Download Basket

Clicky to exchange monies for music

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 13 live shows of the 2009!

I originally wasn't going to do a "best shows of the year" post. I mean, I just didn't know if I could do it. How can you compare the insane energy of ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead to the beauty of Neko Case? Or the almost spontaneous feeling of Dan Bejar's solo acoustic Destroyer show to The Decemberists playing their whole new rock opera album front to back? The insanity of Holy Fuck to the lovely Basia Bulat! I think you get the point. But instead of doing a list and ranking them all, here are some of the shows that stood out from the rest.

In case you're curious, here is the master list of all the shows I've been to this year. Over 50 shows and over 100 bands (some even seen multiple times). But now, here are my top 13 shows, in chronological order. I am going to try and be brief with each* and I'll link to the original review which were much more in depth (but be warned, the first few will be from my lamejournal, which I used before the move to blogspot).

March Sixth. Karkwa at the Biltmore Cabaret.
Ok, this one is tricky because Karkwa was an opening band. I hadn't heard too much of them before the show, just the one song from R3, which was a decent song. A decent song which is a horrible representation of their sound. Which was abso-fucking-lutely amazing. So amazing, in fact, that they managed to blow out a speaker.
The other interesting thing about the show is that it was the first time I had seen Said The Whale live. I was only a radio-fan of the band at that point, and so not only did they have the setback of following that, but their whole set was from blown speakers. I have to admit, I wasn't won over by that set. But knowing the deck was stacked against them, I knew I had to give them another shot.

April Twenty Third. Metric acoustic at the Media Club.
True, it was a very short set. Only Metric played and it was over and done in about an hour. But that one hour was pretty damn amazing. A win-to-get-in show put on by The Peak, I had actually managed to get tickets off their website. The intimate, hundred-some-odd person venue was filled with fans as Emily Haines & Jimmy Shaw took the stage and played some stripped down, acoustic versions of most of the new album as well as of the favourites. It cemented what excellent musicians both Haines & Shaw are (as if I needed reminding), but what made my life was seeing them do a cover of the Broken Social Scene song Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl. That is definitely one of my favourite BSS songs and perhaps one of my favourite songs overall, so seeing it live pretty much made my year.

May Ninth. Joel Plaskett at The Vogue Theatre.
Joel Plaskett. His father Bill. Ana Egge. Rose Cousins. Over the course of nearly three hours these four incredibly talented musicians all had the chance to shine. Sure, it was Joel's show and the other three were backing him, but each was given their opportunity to shine; and shine they did. There were so many highlights from the show, and a lot of them were the little things. Since the show, every time I hear the line "Do the switcheroo" in Fashionable People, I picture Ana and Rose quickly switching places and Joel almost cracking up. I remember the six dollar, duct taped casio keyboard from Value Village for Television Set. Not to mention all the stories Joel tells, sometimes even mid-song. Even in a giant venue like the Vogue, Plaskett made it intimate and like he was singing in your living room. And as if there is any more reason needed to love the show, I give you three words: Joel. Plaskett. Beatboxing.

May Twenty Fifth. TV On The Radio at Malkin Bowl.
I have said it before and I am sure I will say it again, Malkin Bowl is one of my favourite venues this city has. One reason I liked it can best be summed up by a quote from this very show. While looking up at the surrounding trees, specifically the eagles nest in a nearby tree, Kyp Malone told us "That’s something special you guys have. If we were in Brooklyn, that would be a telephone pole. Appreciate this." But of course a good venue doesn't necessarily make a great concert. A band like TV On The Radio makes a great concert. Each time I see them, they get better and better (this was my third time in as many years). They have a raw power that is almost unparallelled and a complex sound that would just sound that takes an insane amount of skill to pull off. If they were a lesser band, the intricacies and layers of their recorded material would fall flat live. And also, both Wolf Like Me and A Method have got to be two of my favourite songs (of any band) to see live.

May Thirtieth. The Dears (with Jets Overhead & Black Diamond Bay) at Richard's on Richards.
This show right here is a very strong contender for show of the year. Not only was the set from The Dears amazing, but one of my favourite lineups, too. Black Diamond Bay was first, the new band from former Dears member (and guitar deity) Pat Krief, and were absolutely spectacular. Jets Overhead were their usual fantastic self (their acoustic show probably would have made a top 20 list), but The Dears... sweet baby Odin, The Dears. From the opening of the show, with Murray coming in through the back and wandering amongst the crowd while singing, I knew it was going to be something special. The pure emotion that gets poured in to each show, I swear the whole band, and Murray especially, must be drained every night. It also included the first of two random Torquil Campbell appearances. Right before Lights Off, Murray dedicated the song to Campbell and his newborn daughter, and then part way through the song Torquil jumped on stage for some backup vocals. Maybe I am slightly bias since The Dears are one of my top 4 favourite bands... but I would say shows like this are part of the reason The Dears hold that position. The only possible word to describe the show would be: incredimazing.

July Seventeenth. Destroyer (with Attics & Cellars) at the Biltmore Cabaret.
The night after playing with The New Pornos, opening for Death Cab For Cutie, Dan Bejar did a Destroyer show at the Biltmore. I thought it was an interesting choice, since last time they were headlining here they did the Commodore, but I figured out why when Destroyer hit the stage. And by Destroyer, I mean Dan Bejar. The show was not a full band, but rather simply Bejar doing a solo and pretty much acoustic set. You wouldn't think a lot of his songs would work like this, but it only went to show Bejar's genius that he not only made it work, but was taking random requests -- of ANY of his songs, Destroyer, Pornos or Swan Lake -- and playing them. The whole thing had a very unrehearsed vibe to it, as if he forgot he was supposed to do a show, then just went on and played whatever he felt like. It all seemed very loose and on the fly.
The other great thing was the discovery of Attics & Cellars, one of the opening bands. Consisting of people such as Jason Zumpano, Meegan Bradfield and Ryan Dahle, they sounded fantastic. Sadly, I haven't been able to catch them again live, and with no album or anything out, I've been relying on their R3 profile. Hopefully they will put out something in the near future.

July Eighteenth. Joel Plaskett Emergency (with Said The Whale) at Holland Park.
A free show at the Fusion Festival in Surrey, of all places. As hesitant as I am to go into Surrey usually, how can I pass up free Joel Plaskett Emergency?? You would be a fool to! it was also a perfect opportunity to give Said The Whale the second chance I promised them, and did they ever win me over with it.
As for JPE, it was quite a different show than the solo one at the Vogue. Incredibly high energy and fun, it was just more proof that whatever the setting, Plaskett is one of the countries worlds best live musicians. He was also joined by sometimes Emergency member Peter Elkas, who has quite the music career of his own, which was pretty damn cool. I was just disappointed they didn't do Poor Young Things since they were together, but I guess that is more an Elkas song. Hopefully someday...

July Twenty First. The Decemberists at The Vogue Theatre.
The Hazards of Love, the new album by The Decemberists, is a (folk-)rock opera. So when they took the stage, with contributors Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and proceeded to play the whole thing in its entirety... that was pretty amazing and theatrical. And intense. And epic. All the grandeur and drama from the album was translated brilliantly live, possibly even better than the album. And holy damn, does Shara Wordenhave an impressive voice. The second half of the show was almost completely opposite, with everything a lot looser and more joking around between songs. It even included something I have never seen before or since that was brilliant. Part way through one of the songs in the encore, while some of the band members were in the audience, they paused for Meloy to introduce a play in one act, with the band members that were in the crowd acting out the Norwegian discovery of Vancouver as Meloy narrated. It may sound silly, but it was pretty hilarious.

August Third. Sam Roberts with Arkells and Mother Mother at Deer Lake Park.
Quite possibly my favourite overall lineup of the year. Arkells were fricking amazing, like they always are. Mother Mother made a fan out of me after their set and Sam Roberts is... Sam Roberts. All terrific bands who I would or have seen themselves, so too see them all together was pretty cool. Not to mention the awesomely beautiful Deer Lake Park. Interestingly enough, all of the bands in this show I ended up seeing multiple times throughout the year.

August Twenty Ninth. Dan Mangan at The Cultch.
The show that made me fall in love with Dan Mangan. His music, that is. Ok, maybe a little bit of him, too. I went to the show on a complete whim, being most a radio-fan of his, but by the end of it... I was a fully fledged fan. With his backing band that ranged from a usual band of four others, to a complete horns and strings section. Not only did he have some great and catchy songs, but he played with a confidence of someone who had been doing that sort of thing for decades, and his great stage presence, demeanour and sense of humour reminded me, in some ways, of Joel Plaskett. Which is saying something. And twice Vancouver poet Shane Koyczan came out, once to recite a poem during Fair Verona and once for the encore to perform the song Tragic Turn of events/Move Pen move from Mangan's Roboteering EP. Their performance of that song was absolutely heartbreaking.

October Thirteenth. Monsters of Folk at the Commodore Ballroom.
Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, M. Ward and Jim James (or Yim Yames, if you will) combine forces for an awesome "supergroup", Monsters of Folk. Who put on an amazing show. Three hours of not just MoF songs, but songs from each artists "main" bands as well. They played all together, each individually, and every combination of the four in between. A really cool concept for a show -- it's something I wish more of these "supergroups" did, it made me not only love their album more, but like each individual artist better (I am still in shock that I actually liked the Bright Eyes songs!)

November Ninth. Matthew Good & Mother Mother.
November Tenth. Matthew Good & Mother Mother.
It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that knows me that these two shows are on the list. Matt Good has been my favourite musician for quite some time, and he has never disappointed live. Not only a top notch musician (and surrounded by ones for his backing band), he also has a great stage presence and banter between songs. Everything from a serious olympic protest to joking about it being "Bublé O'Clock" which somehow led into a spontaneous lounge song about the time he looked out his window to find a ninja getting it on with a pirate on the hood of a car. A true story, apparently. Much like with The Dears above, it's shows like this that are the reason I am such a huge fan of the man. I think overall, the second night was a bit better, but it was pretty awesome seeing him both nights. And to say nothing of Mother Mother, who were even better than when I saw them previously in the year!

So there we have it. My favourite 13 shows of the year -- or 12, if you count both MG shows as one.
And hey, some honourable mentions why not? All these would have
Holy Fuck, Said The Whale & Hannah Georgas, We Are The City & Bend Sinister, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Plants & Animals, Jets Overhead acoustic, The Trews acoustic.

(*Haha! I completely failed at that!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sloan @ Commodore -- 12/15/09

Well, I certainly did not mean to not update for a week, but that's what happens when your computer goes kerblewy. But better late than never, here's my writeup for the Sloan show last week.

I don't know how it was that I had never seen Sloan live before. Maybe cos I've always been a more casual fan, but despite hearing countless times of their excellence live, I just never got (or took) the chance. Well, when I heard they were playing at the Commodore (and for only $20!) I knew I had to rectify this mistake.

The first of two opening bands of the night was Fine Mist. A boy/girl duo from Vancouver who, ironically or not, seemed to come straight out of an eighth grade talent show, Casio Keyboard beats and all. most of the songs consisted of a looped beat and the two of them singing, and, well, if the crowd's reaction (apathy) was any indication, more than a few people felt the way I did.

Magneta Lane was up next. I had seen them before a couple years ago with Small Sins, but didn't really remember too much of them. They weren't bad, but had a kind of Generic All-Girl Band sound to them (which is hard to describe, but if you heard it you'd know). Some catchy stuff, but a few of the songs were a bit same-y.

And finally, Sloan! They started out proving they weren't taking any crap by kicking out not one but two people for general jackassery (I think) by the time the second song was over. They focused most of the set on the new EP, Hit & Run, and some of the older hits. Even though I wasn't yet familiar with the new EP, that didn't stop me from enjoying the hell out of the show. Incredibly tight, swapping instruments throughout the night and fantastically engaging, they proved why they're so highly regarded as a live band. Even the old songs they made fresh, but not unrecognizable. At one point segueing from The Other Man right into Money City Maniacs, both songs were great live, with the latter having some nifty siren-like lighting -- resulting in the pic here; those are lights, not pyrotechnics. They ended the main set with an insanely energetic She Says What She Means, and came back for a few more older songs in the encore, including Coax Me, which say the lead singer of Magneta Lane come out to help on vocals. They finished off the night with The Good In Everyone which, again, tore the place down.
Even though they played for about an hour and a half, the set seemed way too short. I know they have a massive catalogue of songs, so I didn't expect to hear everything I wanted, but there were a few I wish they had done. That aside, it was still a great set from a legendary Canadian band.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Originally I wanted to review every album I bought/otherwise listened to this year. Clearly, I've slacked on that. Partially cos there have been a lot of albums that, for whatever reason, I don't feel like writing a full review for. So what I have decided to do is give a few really quick reviews all at once.... in haiku form. Here we go!

No Nations by Jets Overhead
Excellent second
They're not heading for nowhere
Quite the opposite.

Download Fully Shed by Jets Overhead

Sounds Like Zeus EP by Zeus
A kick-ass EP
Songs that will march through your head
Can't wait for full length

Download Marching Through Your Head by Zeus

Wilco (The Album) by Wilco
Aural excellence
The brilliance you would expect
Wilco (The Haiku)

Download You and I (feat. Feist) by Wilco

Riceboy Sleeps by Jónsi & Alex
(Sigur Rós vocalist Jón Þór Birgisson and partner Alex Somers, and also including Amiina)
Take some Sigur Rós
And remove all the vocals
Still heavenly

Download All the Big Trees by Jónsi & Alex

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bend Sinister w/ We Are The City @ Venue -- 12/10/09

Finally, my Bend Sinister bad luck streak is over! I had previously only seen them either opening or doing otherwise short sets; it seemed every time that they came for a show of their own, there was something conflicting. But finally, thanks to the first of the two Christmas parties sponsored by The Peak, I got to see them. All three bands of the night are bands from the Peak Performance Project, a 20 band contest to help nourish local talent. Being a fan of Bend Sinister from before, they are my top pick to win, but We Are The City has definitely impressed me as well, so I was glad that my two favourites from the PPP were playing a show together.

We Are the City was first up, and holy damn! Had I seen them and not known anything about them, I would never have guessed that they have only been a band for a few years... and are so young. Not only did they have a great energy on stage, but they were incredibly tight & seamless, and -- if their stage banter and joking is any indication -- they seemed incredibly comfortable and at home on stage. I certainly wasn't expecting them to be bad or anything, but I have seem bands that have been around for way longer be much sloppier on stage. It was pretty amazing. They hit most of the songs off In A Quiet World throwing in a new one, This Is A Bad Mistake. The highlight of the set was my favourite song off the album, Astronomers, which even had a nifty space theme on the giant LED screen behind them.

Next was Run The Red Light, whose stage setup was quite opposite of WATC's, with a smoky atmosphere, small towers of LED lights back-lighting them. They, too, had a good stage presence, but not so much banter or talk between songs. When they started, their sound reminded me somewhat of Mute Math, and through the show there were more than a few times where the similarities were reinforced. They were not bad, but seemed to lack variety. A lot of their songs, even the cover of Sarah McLaughlin's Possession (yeah, that's right), sounded a little similar. I'd probably check them out again if they were part of a good bill, but probably wouldn't on their own.

And finally, Bend Sinister. Even after seeing them opening for Young Galaxy about a month and a half ago, I was still absolutely blown away. These guys are absolutely amazing live and seem to get better every time I am able to see them. They started off with Things Will Get Better, which they most certainly did, since right after was one of my favourite songs, Julianna. I am pretty sure I had never see them do that live before, so that was pretty damn awesome. CT, and a few other songs through the night, showed off Jason Dana's intense drumming and after a new song (which I didn't catch the name of, but will dub Cruel Joke because why not) and bringing things down with Give In To The Night, they launched into Brothers Of Humankind, which absolutely brought down the house with its incredible intensity and power. And I've said it before, and I am sure I will say it again, but Dan Moxon is an animal on the keyboard. They ended the night in the best possibly way, by announcing they had a cover song they've been working on for a while, and it was time to bust it out. After a familiar opening, you better believe they had everyone in the place singing along to the opening lines "Just a small town girl..." That's right, Don't Stop Believin'. Epic!
Even though they played for about an hour, it still seemed too short of a set and I already can't wait until they come back.

An awesome night of music, with my two top picks for the Peak Performance Project sharing the stage. If one, or both, of these bands doesn't make it into at least the top three of the Peak Performance Project, I think I will lose a little bit of faith in the station.

setlist, with what seems to be the new norm of me getting all but one song.
Things Will Get Better, Julianna, CT, New Song (which I dub Cruel Joke), Careless, Give In To The Night (w/ reprise), Brothers of Humankind, Dr Lee, [mystery song], Don't Stop Believin' (Journey cover)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dragonslayer by Sunset Rubdown

I am going to let you in on a secret, even though I may risk losing some "indie cred" for it. I have never really been too fond of Wolf Parade (oh no, get the Pitchforks!). I don't hate them, by any means, but I do think they have been incredibly over hyped, and I don't looooooooove them like I am probably "supposed" to. Though, I should be more specific; I think it's just Dan Boeckner I don't care for, as I've never really been into Handsome Furs, either. Spencer Krug, on the other hand... He is not only the other half of Wolf Parade, but also one third of Swan Lake, and leads Sunset Rubdown which is, in my eyes, his best band. What had started as a side/solo project has, four full length albums and a handful of EP's later, flourished into a full band where Krug is able to let his ideas flow. Their latest release is the awesomely titled Dragonslayer, which was recorded almost entirely live off the floor, giving the album the same energy and vibe of their (awesome) live show.

It starts off with Silver Moons, an interesting song as it almost sounds like it could be a closing song, and with lyrics telling us "maybe these days are over now", it doesn't even just feel like the end of an album, but the end of something much more significant... but yet, it's just the beginning.The first single, Idiot Heart completely changes things around; a rousing anthem with boundless energy and some of my favourite lyrics of the year; one such example is the Bucky nominated line "I hope that you die in a decent pair of shoes / You got a lot more walking to do where you're going to."
Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh! is one of my favourite songs off the album, and not just for the great title. An almost majestic song, with references to Greek mythology and excellent story telling, it is one of the perfect examples of how well Krug constructs his songs, not just musically by lyrically. Another great example of just that is Black Swan which starts out with an almost controlled chaos which bursts forth between verses only to be reigned back until it is allowed to come together and explode at the end. Paper Lace is a "remake", I suppose, of his Swan Lake song from this year's Beast Moans and... I think I like the Swan Lake version a bit better. And from a remake to a sequel, of sorts, You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II) follows Trumpet Trumpet Toot Toot from the previous album, directly referencing the chorus. It is another stand-out of the album, building to an awesome ending.
Nightingale/December Song is an assault of drums and has an almost tribal feel that leads excellently into the closer, Dragon's Lair. A ten minute epic of a song, opening with a light piano, it slowly gains momentum into what is not only the highlight of the album, but perhaps a highlight of any of the bands Krug is involved in. He doesn't just tell a story, but creates a whole world within the lyrics, and music, of the song. A superb way to end a great album.

Even though it's only eight tracks, is about fifty minutes, and those 50 minutes are packed with briliance. It had been said before, but with Dragonslayer, Krug cements just how much of a music genius he truly is. He knows precisely what he is doing and delivers it in an exquisite way, and that is what makes this album so great. There are very few bands that sound like Sunset Rubdown... or even could sound like them. This is a perfect example of why Sunset Rubdown is my favourite of all of Krug's bands.

Download Idiot Heart

Download Black Swan

Download You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)

Clicky to exchange monies for music

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mint Records Ridiculously Early X-Mas Party @ The Biltmore -- 12/04/09

Last night was Mint Records annual Ridiculously Early X-Mas Party and my second year going. I think I liked the overall lineup a little better last year, but it was definitely a better venue this time. And, I managed to be one of the first 75 people in, so got a free gift! $20 gift certificates for Black Dog Video (any relation to Red Cat Records?). Though they had some other cool gifts, like $50 for Zulu Records, gift packs, giant pocky sticks and more. And best of all, free pocky sticks!
Like other years, they had a whole host of bands playing, and they somehow fit in eight bands in their 7-or-so-hour window. They all got about 30-40 minutes and the show, surprisingly, ran more or less on time! I'll try to only say a few lines about each set, so as not to go on forever, so here we go!

Aunts & Uncles: As a band, I really liked them... up until the lead singer started in. The music was really nice and almost symphonic -- they included a cello & violin, among others -- but the lead singer was really nasal-y, and a little whiny. Though, as it went on he either got better, or I just got used to it... but it was still quite the contrast.

Kathryn Calder: She was one of the two main acts I wanted to see, being a fan of Immaculate Machine (and New Pornos, of course). It was her first show with the backing band she had collected, and her first show playing guitar as well as keyboard, but it didn't show at all. It was a pretty good set, and got me excited for whatever solo material she plans to release.

Fanshaw: Mint's newest acquisition put on a pretty darn good set. With an almost jazzy or lounge feel to them, they kind of reminded me of a more minimalistic Jane Vain & The Dark Matter. I really dug them, and as I understand there is an album out in February with a CD release party at the Railway on Feb 4th. I think I might just have to check that out.

Kellarissa: Comprised solely (I think) of Larissa Loyva, formerly of The Choir Practice and p:ano. The set seemed a little shorter than the rest, and almost seemed to end abruptly, but she was pretty good. It also seemed really... subtle. Like, no one realized when she started, and there seemed to be more chatter during her set than all others. But with haunting vocals and looping -- which I am always intrigued by -- and I wouldn't mind hearing/seeing more, but it's nothing that I am going to rush out and get.

Hot Panda: I have seem them a few times before, even at last years Mint party, and while they're certainly not bad, I've just never been able to get into them all that much. They just don't do anything for me. That being said, they do have a great energy on stage and they still do put on an enjoyable live show.

Vancougar: I feel like I could copy & paste what I said about Hot Panda here, and it would be just as apt. I do like their song Obvious, but some of the stuff is a little.... same-y. But, much like hot Panda, they too put on a pretty damn good live show, and while I don't think I would go to a show just to see them, I have enjoyed seeing them the last couple years for the Mint X-Mas party.

Carolyn Mark: The second of the two acts I wanted to see. I've liked Mark for a while, but for whatever reason have never really picked anything of hers up; usually just hearing her on CBCR3. Her set, however, changed my mind for sure. Her voice is quite amazing, up there with Neko Case (which is appropriate, since the two of them put out an album under The Corn Sisters). The highlight of the set was definitely when all the members (save drummer, of course) put their instruments behind their head to play... even they keyboardist.

The Pack A.D.: Capped off the night and flat out admitted that since they were the last ones, they had the longest time to drink. And were, to put it generously, a little tipsy. Though, of all the bands to play, they would probably be the least conspicuous when drunk. Not to mean that as an insult, but they already have a pretty loose and raw style anyway. When I saw them earlier in the year opening for Pink Mountaintops, I said "boy, do they know how to put on a fucking rock show", and that was the same for tonight. They rocked out pretty damn hard, and had some hilarious banter between songs... mostly revolving around and due to alcohol.

Even though eight bands in one night did seem to drag on a couple times, it was still a great night of music and I can't wait for next years party. And it was pretty cool to meet some other R3 listeners, or people I only knew via the interwebs, at the show!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Trews @ Rio Theatre -- 11/27/09

I think I would have to say that The Trews are one of my favourite live bands. They just have a raw power and energy to them that is almost unparallelled. So when I found out they were doing both an acoustic album and supporting tour, I was equally intrigued and cautious to see how they would translate to an acoustic style. After picking up the album, I was relieved, since it was great. But even though it was a live album, I was still a little wary of the show itself. How would this band, who is so incredibly dynamic live, do acoustically?

There was no opening band, interestingly enough, and The Trews came out a little before 8. With (swivel) chair/stool-things on stage, they all sat to play making it seem like a pretty intimate show, despite being in a movie theatre (a fact that they joked about a couple times). They started the set with two of my favourite songs of theirs, Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me and then Every Inambition. I was really glad that they did the latter, not just because of it's a fave, but because that isn't on their acoustic album, so it showed promise that a lot of older songs would be played during the set. Between just about every song, lead singer Colin MacDonald introduced them, sometimes with an amusing story. Like how their "hockey song" was dedicated to the Canucks... in Vancouver. When they were in Calgary, it was dedicated to the Flames, etc etc. After a few songs they brought out "Mr Fancy" (long story) on the accordion for a few songs, including When You Leave, which they called the "Cajun" version of the song; a really cool interpretation. Some more highlights were Yearning, which itself was was pretty great, but had an awesome "middle". Most of the song was played before everyone but the MacDonald brothers left the stage, at which point they segued into a Cat Stevens cover. Then Colin left, leaving John-Angus alone to absolutely blow everyones mind for a good 3 or 4 minutes of his incredibly amazing guitar playing. I've siad this before about him, but WOW, he is one HELL of a guitar player. Then the rest of the band came back and they finished up Yearning before closing up the first half of their set with Not Ready To Go. Not only was every person in the sold out theatre singing along to the chorus, but it included a new song called The Power Of Positive Drinking, which is exactly what it wounds like -- and just as awesome.
After a short intermission, they came back for the second half of the set, which included some more old songs, like Hollis & Morris, featuring an brilliant drum solo from Sean Dalton. They've done that in every live show before, but when you have the drummer going for a crazy solo on a single snare drum, a conga drum and what I think was a bodhrán, it makes it all the more impressive. They slipped in another cover, an Elvis Costello song, in the middle of Can't Stop Laughing. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I love it when bands slip in random cover songs in the middle of their sets, and The Trews are usualyl pretty cool about that. Each time I've seen them, they've done a few different cover songs either in whole or a single verse or chorus slipped in mid-song. Another one of my favourites, Ishmael & Maggie, was as awesome as expected and they ended the second set with Hold Me In Your Arms. They came back for the obligatory encore with current single, Sing Your Heart Out, which just about everyone in the crowd was doing for both this and another cover, this time a full song: Oh La La by Faces (it's the song that goes "I wish I knew then what I know now"). After that they switched gears a little with another new song, Highway of Heroes which was very heartfelt and actually kind of sad. They ended the set with You're So Sober and another song which I am totally blanking on.

It's been said that the mark of excellent songwriting is when you can strip a song down to its core, and it still totally works. The Trews managed to take songs from their entire catalogue and do just that, making excellent acoustic versions. I was actually kind of surprised that there was an almost equal spilt between all three albums, with their first maybe even getting the most focus. In the end, I realize it was silly to doubt The Trews on their awesomeness. The live show was still incredibly excellent; to the point where I would possibly say that both the songs and the show were as good as, if not better, than the electric version.

Setlist: (again, I seem to be missing ONE song and I can't seem to remember or figure out what it was...)
Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me, Every Inambition, Paranoid Freak, So She's Leaving, Den of Thieves, Locked Doors, When You Leave, Travelling Kind, Yearning (w/ Where Do Children Play [Cat Stevens cover]), Not Ready To Go (w/ The Power of Positive Drinking)
Fleeting Trust, Gun Control, Hopeless, Tired of Waiting, Love You Save, Hollis & Morris, Can't Stop Laughing (w/ Next Time 'Round [Elvis Costello cover]), Man of Two Minds, Ishmael & Maggie, Hold Me In Your Arms,
Sing Your Heart Out, Oh La La (Faces cover), Highway of Heroes, You're So Sober, [mystery song]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Said The Whale @ St James Hall -- 11/25/09

I'm not gonna lie, the first time I saw Said the Whale it was kind of a disaster. It was back in March at the Biltmore for some Olympic thingummy, and the band that was on right before them was Karkwa, who were freaking amazing; one of the best live performances I've seen all year. And not only that, but I am positive they blew a speaker. So not only did the fine folks of Said the Whale have the unenviable task of following that, but the whole set was drowned out and muddy with horrible sound. However I persevered and after I saw them at the Fusion Festival, opening for Joel Plaskett Emergency, I was a fully fledged fan. So I was looking forward to this show, to see what they could really do live, with no blown speakers and a full headlining set.

First up, though, was another talented Vancouver artists (and friend of Said The Whale) Hannah Georgas. I hadn't heard too much of her, other than a few songs on CBC Radio 3, but I had liked what I heard. After last night, I gotta say, I am officially won over. Her backing band included of Spencer Schoening and Jaycelyn Brown of Said The Whale on drums & keys, respectively, and the set was surprisingly upbeat and energetic -- I think, for some reason, I was expecting it to be lighter and softer. She had a pretty great stage presence, maintaining a nice energy both on guitar and dancing around when just singing. She played for about half an hour or so, and the highlight of the set was easily the energetic Mama's Boy, a stupendous breakup song which proclaims "I guess it's easy to get over an asshole"
I think during the set she promised/teased a new album out next year, and I can't wait for it.

As for Said The Whale, they more that matched my expectations and hopes for the show. I never really realized it before, but the band kind of reminds me of Barenaked Ladies. Not really in sound -- other than both creating insanely infection and catchy pop music, there's not much similarity -- and not just because they are [or were :( ] both five member bands. But rather in the vocal play and harmonies between Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft. Their voiced not only blend together perfectly but they also support each other perfectly when necessary. Not to mention they're pretty funny, if not in song than in on stage antics and banter. I'm not saying they're Barenaked Ladies v2.0 or anything, but there were a few things last night that made me make the connection.
They started with a cool acoustic False Creek Change with all the members singing before launching into an energetic This City's A Mess. They kept up the energy the entire set, hitting almost all off their new album but also a great selection of older songs. They had some great stage presence and banter, too. Part way through the set, a box of donuts made its way on stage which resulted in the band sharing them by tossing them into the crowd, and a fantastic set of donut-related puns. Watch out, Dan Mangan. Watch out Tariq Hussein. There may just be some new Kings of the Pun in town.
Some of the musical highlights of their set included Puddleglum, a great song about Christmas in Vancouver (and that's saying something, since I usually don't care for Christmas songs). Hannah Georgas joined them on stage for BC Orienteering -- one of my favourites -- which was nifty, since she guests on the album. Gift of a Black Heart segued perfectly into another one of my favourites, My Government Heart, which was pretty fantastic live. They ended the main set with what might be my absolute favourite Said The Whale song, Goodnight Moon. It starts out slow and sweet, but ends with some incredibly joyous rocking out, which translated absolutely amazing live on stage. Also, it's kind of funny to see a grown man rock out with a tiny ukulele. That would have been a great way to end the show there, but they popped back out after a very short "encore-interlude", probably because they were being rushed to finished, and played a some more. They ended the night in an fantastic way, first talking about how they were breaking the 10pm noise curfew (it was 10:30 at that point) and had to be quiet... which led into an unamplified version of Curse the Currents, with Ben singing at the front of the stage without a mic or anything. It was a pretty amazing sight, to see the power of his voice, and the (almost) absolute silence of the crowd to hear him. A fantastic way to end a fantastic show.

The only problem, if I may rant for a moment, had absolutely nothing to do with Said The Whale, but rather the people both behind and beside us who, through both Hannah Georgas and Said the Whale, would not SHUT. THE FUCK. UP. If you want to have a conversation, go to a bar or a restaurant or stay home. Don't come to a live show and just talk -- at a regular volume, no less -- the whole damn way through. Next time that happens I am going to have to break out the Fist of Doom and punch some throats. That'll quiet 'em up.

setlist (as best I can remember... I am pretty sure there was a song I am missing in there, but for the life of me I can't remember/figure out what it was)
False Creek Change, This City's a Mess, Love is Art/Sleep Through Fire, The Banks of the English Bay, Puddleglum, Howe Sounds, BC Orienteering, Black Day in December, Emerald AB, Island Disappear, Out on the Shield, The Gift of a Black Heart, My Government Heart, A Cold Night Close to the End, [mystery song], Camilo (The Magician), Goodnight Moon.
(encore) Holly Ontario, Dear Elkhorn, The Light is You, Curse the Currents.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Heart Than Brains by Bike For Three!

I consider myself to have a pretty broad taste when it comes to music. Sure, I like the indie rock the most, but I also like a selection of genres across the spectrum, and in just about any one, there'll be at least one artist I like. Or, at the very least, one I can stand. I fully admit, though, that two of my not-so-favourite genres are hip hop and electronica. However, one of the hip hop artists I do like is Canadian Buck 65. So when I heard about his new project, Bike For Three! which has him teaming up with Belgian electronica artist and producer Greetings From Tuskan, I was a little hesitant. Sceptical, even. As much as I like Buck 65, Hip hop plus electronica? That rarely comes together well. But I gave it a shot anyway, partially because I like Buck, and partially out of curiosity.

The album starts off, after the intriguing introduction track, Beginning, with three amazing songs, All There Is To Say About Love, Lazarus Phenomenon and Nightdriving. All of which hooked me instantly with insanely catchy music and excellent lyrics. They combine to what amounts to a slap in the face for me doubting them. Not to say less of the rest of the album, but these three are perfect examples of why their collaboration works so well. There Is Only One Of Us is another stellar example, with its almost surreal quality and spacey synths which start slow but ramp up to a wash of synth and electronics in the climax. No Idea How feels like a natural follow up to that, with the pounding chorus and haunting backgrounds. The haunting vibe continues on into Always I Will Miss You. Always You. which starts off with a whispering voice before Buck comes in and sings almost sweetly of a heartbreaking loss. The next track, The Departure follows that up giving us almost a sense of urgency and frantic-ness.
Can Feel Love (Anymore) is, for my money, the best song on the album of greats. The song can be best summed up in the line "will she think the falling rain is sad, beautiful or both?", and is sung from the perspective of an expectant father wondering about his unborn daughter. While lyrics full of hope and optimism, if you are not hearing the lyrics, it almost sounds gloomy or heartbreaking. But even after comprehending the lyrics and message, the music does nothing but to strengthen that sense of hope.
The futuristic MC Space is perhaps the poppiest moment on the album. It doesn't fall flat, but does somewhat stick out from the rest. Let's Never Meet is the most poignant, with lyrics like "Let's never meet and regret a past endeavour/ What we have is rare indeed and guaranteed to last forever." The title track closes the album out with one of the more electronic songs and by the time the album ends with the bookend Ending, you realize you've just listened to something special.

Especially considering the two did this whole project as a "cross-continent collaboration"; they never actually met. But despite that, they still seemed to challenge each other, to push each other into something fantastic. Even the mediocre songs, on the context of the album, are still great songs by themselves. Greetings From Tuskan's music shines and Buck's lyrics are as brilliant as ever. And maybe I am looking too far into them, but More Heart Than Brains -- a title that supports my line of thought here -- seems to be an album about love. Finding love, losing love, keeping love and fearing love. About the good times and the bad, its uncertainties and devotion, it looks at everything.

Sometimes, when listening to artists of genres I'm not usually a fan of, I need to give the album time for it to breath and grow on me. That was not the case this time. I liked it instantly and repeated listenings have done nothing but affirm that. Perhaps I should have had a more open mind going in to the album. Perhaps I should have known not to doubt Buck 65. Whatever the case may be, both parties have said that this will not be a one off side project, but something they hope to continue. I'm with them on that sentiment.

Download All There Is To Say About Love

Download There Is Only One Of Us

Download I Will Miss You. Always You.

Download Can Feel Love (Anymore)

Clicky to exchange monies for music

Friday, November 20, 2009

Arkells @ Venue -- 11/19/09

I am still positive that I will never take Venue's name seriously. But silly, pretentious name aside, they do host some incredible bands. Like Hamilton, Ontario's Arkells who were there last night.

The Novaks opened the night. They were... I don't want to say bad, because they were not. But a little boring... bland and generic. A lot of their songs sounded the same or similar. Even the slower ones just seemed like they changed the tempo. Again, they were by no means horrible; I've seen worse. Much worse. But just not very memorable.

This was the fourth time seeing Arkells, but only second time headlining, and it was probably the best and most intense of all the shows thus far. Holy crap, do these guys have an insane amount of energy. The show started a little iffy, by no fault of Arkells, as the sound was a little... terrible. A lot of it was washed out and distorted. I don't know if it was just where we were sitting or what, but it really took me out of the first few songs. Eventually it was fixed (or I just learned to listen past it) and I got to really enjoy the show. They played just about every song from their debut album, Jackson Square, with a few other surprises. There was a new song which was called Where Are You Going? I think. I could sort of see the setlist from where I was and that's what it looked like it said. It was a pretty good song. Mid way through the set they did one of my favourite things; broke out a cover song. Their choice? Based on a bar near their hometown which plays a lot of old, classic music, they chose Smokey Robinson and The Miracles' The Tears of a Clown. It was a little rock-ier, a little Arkells-ier if you will, than the original, but a pretty damn good interpretation.
The last part of the set was just a string of great songs and performances. When they got to Oh, The Boss is Coming, the crowd went apeshit. Singing along with most of it, Arkells even threw in that call & reply with the breakdown of the song. The band may still be relatively new -- I think they've been together for three years? -- but damn, do they know how to work a crowd. No Champagne Socialist is always an incredible song to hear live. They ended the main set with my favourite song of theirs, John Lennon. Again, everyone was singing along to the chorus, and there was a really cool point where they segued into a little bit of Eleanor Rigby -- just the "Ah, look at all the lonely people" -- which, again, everyone sang along to.
They came out pretty quickly after for the "encore" and kept the sing along theme going, getting everyone to sing the first verse of Amazing Grace with them, which turned into Deadlines. After that they ended the show with yet another cover, this time of Dancing in the Dark. Again, a pretty awesome variation on the song, and there has got to be some pun value in Arkells covering Bruce Springstein. (As my friend put it: "Oh, The Boss is Covered") The only thing the cover lacked was Max pulling a girl out from the front of the crowd to dance with him, Courtney Cox-style.

Random covers, insane energy, great stage show and, above all else, fantastic music. What else could one ask for in a show?

Blueprints, The Ballad of Hugo Chavez, Tragic Flaw, Abigail, Heart of the City, I'm Not The Sun, Where Are You Going? (??), Pulling Punches, The Tears of a Clown (Smokey Robinson and The Miracles cover), Oh The Boss is Coming, No Champagne Socialist, John Lennon.
(encore) Deadlines, Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springstein cover)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wil @ The Biltmore -- 11/14/09

Sometimes when you haven't seen a performer in a while, you build them up in your memory, remember them as being more awesome as they actually are. I was really hoping that was not the case with Wil. There was a two year span, after discovering him when he opened for Wide Mouth Mason, where I saw him at least seven or eight times, with the last time, sadly, being a little over two years ago. He's been back a few times since, less frequently, but I always seemed to have terrible luck when he was here, never able to go or just missing him. Back then, I was adamant about Wil being one of the best live acts going, so I was very excited, if a little trepidatious, to see him again.

First out, though, was The British Columbians, who I had seen earlier this year when opening for the double bill of Arkells & The Waking Eyes. My opinion of them hasn't really changed much since then. They were Perfectly Acceptable Music; nothing all that great, but nothing terrible by any means. Their sound is kind of a.... country-metal, if that makes sense, heavy on the blues riffs. There wasn't much variety, though. The whole set sounded like one long song. They still had limited stage presence as well, with the stage falling silent a few times between songs while they set up for the next.

Then not too long after, it was time for Wil. As many times as I've seen him now, I am still amazed how his guitar does not burst into flames mid-show. The guy plays with an unparallelled intensity that, on many occasions, leads to broken strings -- which his wife then turns into jewelry. He was pretty much as amazing as I remembered, hitting the stage with just himself and drummer Jason Cook. They were minimal in numbers but absolutely enormous in sound. There've been a lot of places calling him "Canada's best kept secret" and I completely agree with that, as well as him being one of Canada's best live musicians. The only reason more people don't adore this man is simply because they haven't seen him live.
The set focused mostly on his last album, though he threw in a few new songs, including The River, which is a song that he's played live for years and is finally going to be on the upcoming album (January). The new songs were pretty good and made me all the more excited for the upcoming album. They even handed out a card which directed people to a website to download three demo's from the new album.
The new songs seemed a bit slower, but with most of the older songs, especially Big Life, Both Hands and Always With Love were played with pure energy and with his hand strumming the guitar so fast that most times it was a blur.
The highlight of the set, as hard as it would be to pick, would have to be near the end when he did Honey Pie. He goes absolutely insane in the song, and it had everyone clapping along, and doing a call-and-answer chorus of ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh's. Few times before have I seen the crowd at the Biltmore going as crazy. The one thing that disappointed me, though, is that he was light on songs from his first album, Both Hands -- by which I mean he didn't play Spitfire. In some of his early shows he would start and end the set with that song, so maybe it's just run its course.

By the end, all of my pre-show fears about me remembering him more legendary than he actually was were horseapples. If ever you have the opportunity to see this man live, I couldn't recommend it more.

Don't Let me Down, Big Life, Wedding Dress, The River, Baby Baby (?), Long Kiss Goodnight, Both Hands, If You Want Me To Know, Always With Love, Dance With The Devil, Tell You Twice, Honey Pie, By December.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Matthew Good w/ Mother Mother @ The Centre For Performing Arts -- 11/10/09

I won't talk too much at length about the second night, since a lot of what I covered the first night applies to the second. But I'll quickly go over the setlist and the differences between shows, and throw in a few pictures from both nights. As usual, the pictures are just taken with my phone, so they're not the best quality...

Before I start on tonights show, there were a couple things I missed from last night's show. First was Matt Good owning some dude in the crowd about the CBC. At one point he mentioned the show was being recorded for the CBC and got the usual response of "CBC sucks!". So he asked why and talked about how CBC is owned by us, the public, so it is accountable to us. Which is why the BBC is one of the best news organizations, since it, too, is publicly owned, while Fox News is owned by a bunch of jackasses. Capping it off with saying it's one of those things you have to actually give a shit about for it to work in your favour. Kind of like democracy.
The other thing was the lighting. Lighting is not really something you notice in most shows, unless it's really terrible, really distracting, or really good. This was definitely the latter. It's hard to describe, but suffice to say it really fit the moods of the songs and really enhanced the show, for both nights.

Mother Mother had pretty much the same set, just in a bit of a different order and one or two songs changed, so nothing too different from the first night.

As for Matthew Good, the show was actually pretty different than the night before.
He seemed to play a few more older songs, and hit most of the songs from Vancouver he didn't play last night. I was disappointed he didn't play Champions of Nothing and especially Vancouver National Anthem again, but Strange Days, Load Me Up (with a little bit of Love Will Tear Us Apart snuck in) and Everything is Automatic (with Good turning the chorus over to the crowd to sing), and especially Odette made up for it.
There was about half the songs in both sets that were the same, with the other half being different each night.
Everything seemed a bit looser the second night as well. There seemed to be a lot more joking and banter on stage, with a couple times him starting on one thing and going on a whole host of tangents, pretty much all hilarious. Matt's banter and humour have always been a huge part of why his live shows are so enjoyable, so it was great to see him a bit more talkative.
Some of the awesome stories, which will probably have no context here, included if Good was the leader in a One World Government, he would take all the arms from America and give them to a small country, like Jamaica or Mongolia. A decoy tourbus. And a tease of playing Suburbia by request (played the first verse, but couldn't go on due to wrong key) which somehow turned into a kids show theme, and Matt being creeped out by bassist Milos' creepy dance, which led to him doing his impeccable Borat accent. It got to the point where, near the end Good asked the crowd if it was weird to have so much wackiness going on between such serious songs.

All in all, I think the second night was the better of the two. Overall, a better setlist, what seemed like a much looser stage show and even a better crowd, it seemed at points.

On Nights Like Tonight, Avalanche, The Boy Who Could Explode, Great Whales of the Sea, A Single Explosion, I'm A Window, Born Losers, Load Me Up, Last Parade, Odette, Apparitions, Empty's Theme Park
(encore) Metal Airplanes (acoustic), Strange Days (acoustic), Giant, Weapon, Everything is Automatic.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Matthew Good w/ Mother Mother @ The Centre For Performing Arts -- 11/09/09

It's probably no surprise that I have seen Matthew Good, who is my favourite musician, every year since '04. Either with a band or acoustic, venues large or small, I have never seen him live and been anything less than blown away. He's also had some great opening bands, and this tour is no less. I had known & seen Mother Mother before, and had been wanting to see them live again, so them being the opening band was an added bonus!

I fully admit, I wasn't a big fan of Mother Mother until I saw them opening for Sam Roberts, but since then they've grown on me and I'm more into them now than I was then. They definitely won me over that day with their infectious chords and near-perfectly harmonized melodies, and tonight was no different. It was a very solid set, which consisted mostly of their more well known songs, with a few others thrown in -- I think at least one new one as well. The entire set was energetic, but Hay Loft was probably the most so. They didn't talk much, but has a great stage presence nonetheless, letting the catchy indie-pop-rock speak for itself. And damn, are these folks talented. Singer & guitarist Ryan Guldemond pulled of a couple of incredible guitar solos while bassist Jeremy Page had a fantastic saxophone solo during one of the songs. That's not something you see enough in rock shows. My only complaint would have to be that it was too short.

After not too long (I've said before, but I have grown to love curfew shows) Matthew Good came out with his three member backing band. He kicked off the show with The Boy That Could Explode, followed by another few songs from the new album, Vancouver. He then delved into the catalogue a bit for some favourites, including Avalanche, which is always pretty amazing live, and Apparitions which had most of the crowd singing along. Just before he went into Vancouver National Anthem, he talked a bit about the bylaw making it illegal to protest the olympics and Burquitlam MLA Harry Bloy calling protestors "Terrorists" with "a limited intellect" (seriously). The main set ended with the combination of Weapon and Empty's Theme Park. I already knew Weapon was pretty epic live, but holy shit was Empty's a fantastic song live.
They came back out to the opening of Giant (still one of my favourite openers to any album ever) with everyone chanting and clapping along to the familiar: K-I-C-K-A-S-S. (claps) That's the way we spell success, before a couple more songs and ending with Champions of Nothing. The song seemed a bit reworked, with the opening being more acoustic then the rest of the band slowly coming in. It was another incredible song and fantastic way to end out the night.
There seemed to be a little less banter than usual, due to him getting over being sick just before the tour, but what little there was was definitely hilarious, in true Matt Good fashion. At one point he was joking about scalpers and them ripping people off, selling tickets for the wrong show: STP. "Man, Scott Weiland has put on weight.... and where's his fedora???"
Possibly the best moment of the night came out of riffing, going from Matt joking it wasn't quite "Bublé O'Clock", going to his bewilderment of how crooners like that work in an arena setting... which somehow led the band to start a jazz riff and Good improvising a lounge-y number of (an apparent true story) the time he looked out his window to find a ninja getting it on with a pirate. Pure gold.

An absolutely incredible night of music, and I can't wait to see either band live again.
OH WAIT! I'm going to the second show tonight!

The Boy Who Would Explode, Great Whales of the Sea, Fought To Fight It, Born Losers, Avalanche, [lounge song], Apparitions, Vancouver National Anthem, Last Parade, A Silent Army in the Trees, Blue Skies Over Badlands, Weapon, Empty's Theme Park
(encore) Giant, Us Remains Impossible, Champions of Nothing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Metric @ The Orpheum -- 11/03/09

After my complaining last week, it was kind of nice to finally have a curfewed show on a weekday. And what a show it was! At first, I was vaguely disappointed that The Stills were opening for Metric out east but not here, but after the show, I most definitely changed my tune and was perfectly happy with the choice of openers.

I had seen Zeus before -- a couple times, actually -- when they opened for (and subsequently played with) Jason Collett last year. I liked them well enough then, but was never really inspired to do more than turn up Radio3 when they came on. However, I can safely say after this show, they fully won me over. And based on the crowd reaction, I wasn't the only one. Their 45 minute set was filled with awesomely catchy songs, like the single Marching Through Your Head and Genesis cover That's All. They also changed things up quite a bit. Of the our members, only the drummer stayed put. The other three traded off between guitar, bass and keyboard and swapped lead vocals, with everyone providing backups. It was pretty cool too see a band do this, as not many can, and spoke volumes for their talent. The only source of disappointment was that they only had a five song EP for sale, but clearly had enough awesomeness for a full length. I hope to see one soon and can't wait for them to be back in town.

This is the third time I've seen Metric in the last year (this show, an acoustic show earlier this year and the Jingle Bell Rock tour late last year) and they somehow manage to surprise me every time. Such an incredible sound that comes out of only four members. Emily Haines is like a tiny ball of energy, bouncing and jumping and rocking and dancing all over the place, when not on guitar or on the keys. And James Shaw always leaves me in awe of his boundless talent. And not to leave out Joules Scott-Key and Josh Winstead, who were both as great as always.
They kicked off with Twilight Galaxy -- which featured a theremin! awesome! -- which built to an epic climax before launching into Help I'm Alive and somehow keeping up the energy level for the entire set. Focusing mostly on the new album, Fantasies, they threw in only a few from Live It Out and just the two hits from Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? I was kind of hoping for a fewer older ones, like Succexy or Live It Out, but oh well. Gold Guns Girls was definitely a highlight of the set, which I think was the only song that saw Haines on guitar.
The weird this is, they didn't speak to the crowd until almost the end of the set. During the instrumental on an extended version of Empty, Haines "ranted" a little bit about how the past was better and this generation needs a new Zeppelin, which tied it in to how great Zeus is. The extended Empty also featured some random lyrics slipped in from other songs, like Beastie Boys' Fight for Your Right. They ended the "main" set with another incredible live song, Stadium Love, which was just another burst of pure energy and enthusiasm from the band. The encore consisted of Monster Hospital first, then Joules and John took their leave and Shaw & Haines did a very nice acoustic version of Combat Baby which everyone in the house sang along to. They also dedicated the song to their friend Torquil Campbell of Stars, who was in attendance (apparently). This was kinda funny, since it was the third show in a row I've been to where someone has mentioned Torquil.
After the song was done, Joules and John came back out and the band thanked everyone for what was an awesome night, for all involved.

Twilight Galaxy, Help I'm Alive, Satellite Mind, Poster of a Girl, Handshakes, Gold Guns Girls, Collect Call, Empty, Gimme Sympathy, Sick Muse, Dead Disco, Blindness, Stadium Love.
(encore) Monster Hospital, Combat Baby (acoustic).