Friday, September 30, 2011

Peak Performance Project Showcase #4 @ Red Room -- 09/29/11

The Peak Performance Project is a multi-year contest in which The Peak, along with Music BC, picks 20 BC musicians/bands a year and makes them stars. The first year was won by We Are The City, and last year, Kyprios, with a ton of great bands and artists included as well.

Part one of the project was a rock & roll boot camp where they went on a week long retreat where industry pros helped them refine their craft. Phase two is a series of shows at The Red Room, four artists a night for five weeks, each playing a 45 minute set. In the last two years, the bands would all have to learn and play a cover of a classic Canadian song, but this year they will all be playing the songs they wrote about Vancouver for the Vancouver125 celebrations. Honestly, I am a bit disappointed about that, because one of my favourite aspects of the showcase series last year was seeing which song they picked and how they interpreted it. But I am sure their Vancouver songs will be great.

The fourth showcase was my most anticipated, featuring two bands I had seen before and enjoy live, and two that I had not seen live before, but was most looking forward to seeing.
(Also, the night featured five different musicians named Matt.)

The Matinee kicked off the night, and boy did they ever kick it off with a bang. I had heard nothing but good things about their live show and they more than delivered. Starting with a slower tune, they quickly burst forth with a driving, folky roots-rock sound.
Lead singer Matt Layzell has an amazing charisma on stage and Matt Rose is a phenomenal guitar player, to say nothing about the rest of the band. They had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand, clapping along with "Sweetwater" and singing along at various points. There was also a fantastic moment in the middle of "The Road" where they brought out a couple extra drums for a breakdown, with each member bashing away. The whole set came to an explosive ending, which saw Rose smashing an acoustic guitar.
The set was pretty amazing, and I think it would be fair to say it was my favourite showcase of the project thus far.

Up next was Redgy Blackout, the other band I was really looking forward to. And they, too, definitely lived up to my expectations. They put on a really fun and energetic rock show, and as well as their own songs, they broke out a great cover of Arcade Fire's "Wake Up", which I loved (see above mini-rant about covers). Another highlight was Scott cracking out the trumpet (and top hat) for a jazz-infused "Who Am I", my favourite song of the set. 
They had a bit of a lull, though, and some lost momentum when they brought out a piano for their Vancouver 125 song and technical difficulties ensued, but they brought it back by the end of the song which featured a good number of the other PPP band members joining them for a song-along. They ended with the beautiful "Alexandria" and an energetic "Bottom of the Sea". 

Behind Sapphire was up next, hitting the stage with kind of a weird -- and long -- intro wearing Asian masks before launching into "Oh My, What A Fine Day". They passed out glow sticks, that they were wearing, and disposable cameras (I think) through the crowd. As usual, they had a great energy and looked like they were having the most fun on stage, but for whatever reason the sound for the set really wasn't the best. Grant's vocals were not coming through very clear and the whole thing just seemed really muddy, which really detracted from their set.
It was more a disappointment than anything, really; I have seen them before and know they can do a lot better.

Finally, it was Treelines closing out the night. They (high)kicked off their set with some straight up rock, and a pretty intense energy. Especially from frontman Matt Lockhart, but especially from his brother Steve, on bass, who is always belting out the lyrics, whether he is mic'd or not. They played a good mix of songs from their Young Man EP and newer ones, including "Courage" which featured a slow burn to a soaring chorus and "When I Get Grown" with Matt Kelly (now also from CBC's Cover Me Canada) on pedal steel and featuring Michelle Faehrmann on cello.
Their Vancouver song, creatively titled "The Vancouver Song", featured either the silliest or most brilliant lyrics, and was really a simple, straight forward, and descriptive, love letter to the city.
And they brought it to a close in fine fashion with "Ghost Towns", getting everyone at the front of the stage jumping and dancing along.

It was definitely the best all-around showcase thus far, though next week looks like it could be just as good. For the final week, we'll see Maurice, Lindsay Bryan, 41st & Home and Rococode wrapping everything up.

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