Friday, October 28, 2011

Kathryn Calder @ Biltmore -- 10/27/11

It's been a long week of shows, and what better way to cap it off than Kathryn Calder. The current New Pornographer and former Immaculate Machine just released her second solo album, Bright & Vivid and this show was the de facto CD release, as well as the kick off to her North American tour.

I got there a bit late, catching the tail end of the first band, My Friend Wallis. The couple songs I saw were okay, but there was an incessant buzzing, and the vocals were a bit mumbly. It was pretty normal dream-pop-ish sound, and was a perfectly fine opening band, from what I saw.

Second up was, Anomie Belle from Seattle. Throughout the set she went between looping violin, guitar and keys with sparse backing band and a laptop with pre-recorded stuff -- sometimes beats, sometimes ambient noises. The music was dark and very moody, with a voice that fir the music perfectly. She was very talented, and did a great job of drawing you in, though personally I could have done without the backing laptop. But other than that -- and a few lulls between songs, mostly to get the laptop going proper -- it was a really good set, and I wouldn't mind checking her out again.

And finally up was Kathryn Calder joined by Marek Tyler, a monster on drums, as usual, and Ted Gowans (best known from Tegan & Sara) on guitar. Starting off with the raucous "Castor & Pollux" and the beautiful "All It Is" from her first album, Are You My Mother? she then launched into mostly new songs, which sounded great.
Calder jumped between keys and guitar throughout the night, and her charmingly nervous banter filed the gaps between the songs, but while playing she exuded confidence. Songs like "Who You Are?" and "New Frame of Mind" were a bit edgier and darker (in both mood and sound), but were not too drastic a departure from her sound to be jarring. The set came to a close with one of my favourites of hers, "A Day Long Past Its Prime", without bothering with the whole fake encore thing.
I've seen Kathryn  multiple times at various points, will all her bands, and it is always enjoyable seeing her perform live. Hopefully she'll be back soon enough.

Castor & Pollux, All It Is, New Frame of Mind, Turn a Light On, Walking In My Sleep, Who Are You?, Slip Away, Arrow, City of Sounds, Younger Than We've Ever Been, One two three, A Day Long Past Its Prime.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paper Lions @ Cobalt -- 10/26/11

When you think of a rock show, oyster shucking isn't really something that comes to mind. But that didn't stop PEI's Paper Lions from embarking on the Rolling Oyster Revue, not only bringing some PEI oysters with them on the road with some at each venue, but also having smaller, pre-show shucking parties. The one here just happened to be at George Knuff from 41st & Home's abode (of all places) and I dropped in to meet the band and try some genuine PEI oysters. Which were pretty delicious.

Unfortunately, due to that, we missed most of the opening bands, only catching the last song of Good for Grapes, which seemed pretty cool -- the band included a trombone and accordion and, had a pretty fun sound.

But we did get there in time for Paper Lions, who hit the stage with a mix of old and new songs, teasing an album in the works bursting forth with their incredibly infectious pop-rock and tight harmonies; the four members had fantastic chemistry and sounded great together. A couple highlights of the set were the undeniably catchy "Lost the War" and "Travelling", which started with just lead singer John MacPhee solo with an acoustic guitar, but the built up into a massive finish with the whole band rocking out.
They ended with a newer song, "Ghost Writer" and didn't seem to have an encore planned, but the cheers drew them back and instead of taking the stage, they went up on the bar in the middle of the crowd to for a completely unamplified song, which was pretty amazing.

It wasn't just a fun set -- which had me looking forward to the next time and the new album -- but also a cool idea for a tour, and it's always neat to see bands do more than just 'go to city, play a show'. It would be interesting to see more bands do this kind of thing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Foo Fighters @ Rogers Arena -- 10/25/11

It was a close call; I almost didn't make it to this show, but last minute free tickets saved the day. It had been two years since I'd been to an arena show, and six years since a show at Rogers Arena -- when it was still GM Place  -- so it definitely felt weird to be there, but Foo Fighters are a stellar live band, and even though I haven't really gotten into the album there was no way I would pass up seeing the Fighters of Foo.

With the show's early start, we missed both opening bands -- which I am not too broken up about, since one was Cage the Elephant -- and got to the seats in the nosebleeds (but, hey: free) just in time for Foo Fighters to take the stage, kicking off with "Bridge Burning", the lead off song to the new album Wasting Light. The stage setup was pretty intense, with giant screen for all to see, monitors at the back of the stage and lights galore. The stage even served as a projection screen at times, lighting up in bright red with the Foo Fighters logo. There was also a protrusion for Grohl to sing, which lead to a runway up to another, small stage in the middle that he would make use of; most notably during "Stacked Actors" where Grohl, on the small stage, engaged in a guitar duel with guitarist Chris Shiflett, culminating in the smaller stage to rise up about twenty feet.
Early on, Grohl mentioned they no longer did two hour and fifteen minute shows... rather it isn't a rock show until it hits three hours, and that is nearly how long they played for. With a nice mix of their new album and old favourites, most of them getting tweaks and variations, but without being unrecognizable, and all sounded great -- even if he can no longer do that part in "Monkey Wrench" very well (you know the part I mean).
After ending with a face-melting "One by One", they made the crowd work for more, showing a video of Grohl and ace-drummer Taylor Hawkins in the back milking the crowd, and the encore began with Grohl on the small, raised stage with just an acoustic guitar. After a couple of sing-a-longs, he launched into "Times Like These" which started acoustic, but the band kicked in with full force half-way through for a chilling moment. "Dear Rosemary" segued into a cover of Tom Petty's "Breakdown", with Dave going off the stage and into the crowd to dance with a couple people before they ended the night, unsurprisingly, with "Everlong", and damn near every person in the arena singing along.

Admittedly, there was a bit of a disconnect being so far away from the stage and what was going on, but it was still a pretty fantastic show. Grohl is one of the best frontmen, with charisma to spare, hilarious banter and not a drop of arrogance on him. When he tanked us for coming, thanked us for letting him do what he loves, he was nothing less than genuine. And as long as they keep coming to town, I will keep attending their shows.

Bridge Burning, Rope, The Pretender, My Hero, Learn to Fly, White Limo, Arlandria, Breakout, Cold Day In The Sun, Stacked Actors, Walk, Monkey Wrench, Let It Die, These Days, This Is a Call, One by One.
(encore) Wheels, Best of You, Times Like These, Dear Rosemary (Break Down [Tom Petty cover]), Everlong.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Zolas with The Liptonians and Hannah Epperson @ St James Hall -- 10/24/11

On the heels of the release of their split 7", The Zolas and The Liptonians have brought their western Canadian tour to an end with a pair of shows here in Vancouver. St James Hall was the site of their second show -- the first happening while I was otherwise occupied -- and was all ages, which meant a lot of teenage girls there to see The Zolas.
(If you even want to feel old, just go to an all ages Zolas or Said the Whale show)

First up was Hannah Epperson, armed with only her violin, loop pedal and soft, beautiful voice. I've seen her a few times before, but I am always taken by her masterful loops, building layer upon layer with just her violin. A few of her songs were just instrumental -- and were captivating on their own -- and when she added vocals, her voice matched the mood perfectly. She had the crowd completely enthralled, with dead silence for her while she was playing, breaking into cheers only when she was done each song.

The Liptonians were up next, launching into "You Know I Did", and their fantastic contribution to the split 7", "Destroy Destroy Destroy". Right off the bat they proved why their live shows have such a great reputation, with their incredibly tight sound and solid harmonies, and the show just got better from there. "Perfect Swimmers" was one of the highlights, a soft song that fit the venue perfectly, and had everyone golf-clapping along in lieu of their forgotten shaker, and one of my favourites, "Growing Old in the City", featured a garbage can lid and a cacophony of sound that swells to an insane climax. I am fairly certain that if I ever go mad, I want that song playing at the time.
After what seemed like not nearly long enough, they drew to a close with "March Back Into the Sea", starting soft and swelling to a great ending for the set. And I already can't wait to see them live again.

Terrell's Dream; You Know I Did; Destroy, Destroy, Destroy; Lesage; The Privatest Parts; Perfect Swimmers; Float On By; Growing Old in the City; Hey! Hey! Help is on the Way!; March Back Into The Sea.

And wrapping up the night was The Zolas. Or rather, The Zoliptonias, as Zach Gray's partner in crime Tom Dobrzanski couldn't make the tour, so Grey was backed by the five members of The Liptonians. It was really interesting seeing Zach with a completely different band, especially up to six members from the usual four, since it really rounded out songs; they had a great chemistry and the sounded fantastic.
Starting off the set with the dense and moody "Guest" "Cultured Man", the other song from the split 7", before getting a nice bout of recognition applause (or, shrieks given the demographic at an all ages show) for "You're Too Cool". The set featured mostly older songs, prompting lots of clapping and singing along, but also another new song, "Strange Girl", and after a raucous ending with "Marlaina Kamikaze" Grey came back out alone for just one more song, the soft "These Days", backing off the mic a few times, really taking advantage of the quiet crowd.
I feel a little weird saying it it was a fantastic set from The Zolas, given that really only one Zola was there, but it really was a great show, and was pretty cool to see the collaboration, and I kind of with The Zolas played as a six-piece more often.

Cultured Man; You're Too Cool; The Great Collapse; Marionettes; I've Got Leeches; Body Ash; Strange Girl; Marlaina Kamikaze.
(encore) These Days.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Contest! Win Arkells Michigan Left & limited edition vinyl.

Michigan Left, the much anticipated second album from Hamilton's Arkells dropped last week and, spoiler alert: it's pretty awesome. So in celebration of that, I just so happen to have some Arkells swag to give away!

Two lucky winners will snag themselves a copy of Michigan Left, and one luckier winner will get the grand prize pack consisting of:
  • One (1) limited edition double sided vinyl with the two singles "Whistleblower" and "Kiss Cam" signed by the band, and
  • One (1) 18 x 24" poster, and
  • One (1) copy of Michigan Left.
To make it fun, all you have to do to win is come up with an Arkells Haiku.

For example:
The boss is coming
You had better look busy
No room for error

It's just that easy. You have until November 11th (which is, coincidentally, the day of their show here at the Commodore) to either email me at 3amrevelations at with the subject "I Love Arkells" or leave a comment with your haiku (make sure you leave a way to get back to you, otherwise you're out of luck!).
Don't forget your 5-7-5 and GOOD LUCK!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Big Sugar w/ Wide Mouth Mason @ Commodore -- 10/22/11

"To put it politely, we fucked some shit up".
That's what Gordie Johnson had to say early on about the previous night, the first of two sold out shows at the Commodore, and the kickoff for the Big & Wide tour, seeing Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason crossing the country "from island to island". It was also Big Sugar's first show in Vancouver since their farewell show eight years ago. I had been to that show and the return of the band, combined with Wide Mouth Mason, had me more than a little excited.

Wide Mouth Mason hit the stage at 9:30, starting off with an older tune, "Smile" before launching into one of my favourites off the new album, No Bad Days, "More Of It". The song's lyric "the only thing better than a good thing is more of it" was apt, with Shaun Verreault improvising "the only thing better than one band with Gordie Johnson, is two bands with Gordie Johnson", referring to his status as their new bass player.
The set was a split of new, like the sexy "Sweet Little Thing" -- with a little bit of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" slipped in -- and old, including the beautiful "Companion (Lay Me Down)", which they hadn't played live in years. As usual, Verreault was amazing on the guitar -- one of my favourites to watch live -- peppering solos throughout and being a captivating front man, getting the crowd into it and singing along, especially to their hits, their first big single, "Midnight Rain" and the song they ended the set with, the first song off their first album, "My Old Self".
It was a great set, definitely getting everyone excited for the night, and even though the amount of times I have seem Mason in the last dozen years is probably in the double digits, I don't think I'll ever tire of seeing them live, especially if they keep putting on shows of this quality.

Smile, More Of It, Midnight Rain, Get A Hold Of You, Go Tell it to the Waterfall, Shut Up and Kiss Me, Sweet Little Thing, Companion (Lay Me Down), What'd I Do, Why, My Old Self.

Then shortly after 11, the lights dimmed as Big Sugar hit the stage, over half a dozen members large. Aside from Johnson, there was the familiar faces of Garry Lowe on bass and Mr. Chill on harmonica, sax, melodica, and more, and new members Friendlyness on keys and "toasting", the drummer from The Respectables, Stephane Beaudin, and backup singer Meredith Shaw; as well as Shaun and Saf from WMM pulling double duty on rhythm guitar and a second, smaller drum kit respectively.
Any notions of rust on the band were immediately dispelled as their groovy bass lines and dirty blues rock burst forth, starting with "Work It Now" off the new album, Revolutions Per Minute. The first highlights of many came early on, with everyone singing along to "Diggin' a Hole" and one of my personal favourite songs, their incendiary version of "Dear Mister Fantasy".
The entire band had an unparalleled energy, especially Johnson, who had the crowd hanging off every word and note of the almost two and a half hour set, which was packed with songs old and new, and also included a few surprise guests. Canadian blues legend Colin James joined them for "Come Back Baby" and a twelve piece mariachi band, Los Dorados, came out for a couple songs, "Turn the Lights On" and "I Want You Now".
At that point the stage emptied for an acoustic song with just Johnson on guitar and Mr Chill on harmonica, before they brought the main set to an end with another one of my favourite songs, "All Hell For A Basement" and their rendition of "O Canada" -- ending with Johnson putting his double-guitar behind his head to play, proudly showing off the Canadian flag painted on the back.
They made us work for the encore, coming back out with the hemi-revving, tire squealing intro to "Red Rover" and an incredible extended rendition of "The Scene", with a little bit of James Brown's "Sex Machine" slipped in the middle.

It was, simply put, an unforgettable show, with Big Sugar reaffirming their status as one of Canada's best rock bands.

Work it Now, Diggin’ a Hole, Dear Mister Fantasy, If I Had My Way, Roads Ahead, Givin It Up For My Shugah!, Come Back Baby, Come A Little Closer… Now Come!, Kickin’ Stones, Empty Head, Counterfeit Wings (Are Some Jive Ass Wings), Little Bit A All Right, So Not Over, Better Get Used To It, I'm a Ram, Turn the Lights On, I Want You Now, Wild Ox Moan, All Hell For a Basement, O Canada.
(encore) Red Rover, The Scene.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Zeus @ Biltmore -- 10/21/11

Every once in a while, a show that I should be excited for just kind of sneaks up on me without fanfare. For some reason, this was one of those shows. Sure, I was looking forward to it; I had seen Zeus four times before and this, and it would be the first time seeing them headline a show (not counting the Bonfire Ball), but I was probably not as excited going in as I should have been.

Starting off the night was Daydream Vacation from Seattle; a collaboration between Smoosh and Head Like A Kite who were kind of a strange choice to open the show, with a strong electro-pop dancey sound. It wasn't bad by any means -- Asya from Smooth had a really nice voice and Dave was very animated, singing into a phone receiver and a few times jumping off stage and through the [light] crowd -- but it was just a bizarre fit. A lot of their songs had the same vibe, even the Neil Young cover they threw in, but it was still an upbeat and catchy set.

Vancouver's own Sun Wizard was up next, with their straight-ahead, throwback rock being more suitably paired with Zeus. I've seen them a couple times now, and they are an enjoyable band to watch at the time, but nothing overly engaging. They don't have too much of a stage presence and have a few really catchy songs, notably "World's Got a Handle", but a lot of them were also a little interchangeable. But again, it was a Perfectly Acceptable set and I wouldn't complain seeing them again.

Then it was time for Zeus. They mentioned early since there was a curfew, they'd keep the chit chat minimal and just play, blasting us with a straight hour of rock. The bulk of the set was off of last year's Say Us, but there were a few new ones, teasing the release of their album next March. Of the new ones, the do wop "Love In a Game" was probably my favourite.
Throughout the set there was lots of switching around with Carlin, Mike, and Neil swapping between guitars, bass, and keys, and all pitching in for vocals -- either main or chiming in for superb harmonies. And even though there wasn't much chatter, they still kept a captive crowd, getting the folks to sing along just by Carlin cupping his ear.
Other highlights were the intense ending of "The Renegade" with the band going absolutely nuts rocking out, and the stellar "The River by the Garden", during which Mike broke a string on his guitar -- and between songs, instead of standing around while he fixed, Carlin played a badass bass solo that launching into their great cover of Genesis' "That's All". They ended the main set with the new single, "Are You Gonna Waste My Time?" before coming back for a quick two song encore, capping off the night with the driving"You Gotta' Teller"

It was an amazing set, and I immediately realised why I should have been more excited -- and chastised myself for not. It is going to be tough to wait until next March for the new album, and hopefully they're back not long after that for another show.

[New Song], [New Song], Kindergarten, Greater Times on the Wayside, The River by the Garden, That's All [Genesis cover], How Does It Feel?, Heavy On Me, Marching Through Your Head, BBO(?), Love is a Game, The Renegade, Are You Gonna Waste My Time?
(encore) Hot Under The Collar, You Gotta' Teller.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Amplify! MDD Fundraiser w/ The Belle Game, Ruffled Feathers & Sidney York @ Railway -- 10/20/11

With Media Democracy Days coming up soon, it was time for the annual fundraiser show at the Railway. This year it featured a trio of great acts, fronted by lovely ladies, and even though the sound at the Railway was unusually wonky a couple times throughout the night (the sound guy showed up late, which could be a contributing factor) it was still a hell of a night of local music.

First up was Sidney York, with a set similar to the one she played last week. But even though it was familiar, it was no less fun. With six members packed on to the small Railway stage (a theme for the night), there wasn't as much room for moving around, but the whole band was brimming with energy.  The crowd was into it, too, clapping along for a few songs, including "Roll With Me" and the insanely catchy "Dick & Jane", and shouting & dancing along to "Mile High Love", which closed the set. Even when they toned things down for the heartfelt "Go Home, Atticus Jones", they were still captivating. As mentioned above, there were a couple hiccups in sound, but still a fantastically enjoyable set, and just added more reason for Sidney York being one of my favourite new artists this year.

The Ruffled Feathers were up next, who have been getting better and better with each time I've seen them. They started off starting of with "Home" kicking off a really fun set of their high energy chamber pop.
While Gina Loes handled most of the lead vocals, there were a couple songs where they traded off to other members; for "Lead Me to Destruction" Charley Wu took care of vocals and Andrew Lee handled them on "Rosin and Horsehair", which also saw Wu playing his mandolin with a bow. Both songs had their own uniqueness without betraying the overall sound of the band -- Wu's had a bit of a 50's vibe while Lee's had an almost spaghetti-western feel to it. They weren't the only ones, though, as throughout the set each member of the band got their own moment to shine.
Another highlight of the set was their latest single, "Blueprints for a Failed Revolution" from their forthcoming album Oracles. And if their set was any indication, is going to be a good one, which I am eagerly anticipating.

And wrapping up the night was The Belle Game, who kicked off with "Bloom" from their just-released EP, which started soft but swelled to a grand climax, setting the stage for their layered sound. They were occasionally joined by Andrew Lee on trumpet, doing double duty for the night (one day there will be a show where he plays in each band, mark my words).
Much like the bands before them, they two had a great energy and stage presence, even with a packed stage. Highlights of the set were the awesomely-titled "I Wish You Weren't Like A Dead Lover (Sometimes)", building up to a smashing ending, with singer Andrea Lo and guitarist Alex Andrews going nuts on a floor tom, and "Shoulders & Turns", where they urged people to get cozy and dance. They wrapped up the set with "Sleep to Grow", which had Adam Nanji taking his guitar into the crowd, and were called back for what may have been an actual legitimate encore of one final song. 

On any given night, any one of these three bands would have stolen the show and been well worth seeing on their own, and seeing them all together made for a grand show.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chad VanGaalen @ The Rio Theatre -- 10/15/11

Two years, to the day. That was the last time I had seen Chad VanGaalen live; which is, of course, far too long. He was even playing at the same venue as last time, the Rio Theatre, which this time had sold out. And even though there were many other, out-of-town shenanigans this weekend, I wasn't going to miss this.

Vancouver's Flash Palace was opening the night, with an instrumental set of melodic, ambient, post-rock. The layered songs all kind of flowed together, and they had an intriguing sound, but it was also a little... droning. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mind-set for it, but the band didn't have much stage presence, ether.
That being said, I was pretty interested in checking them out further, and at the end they mentioned they were recording a new album, with vocals, so I'll definitely be keep an ear out to see how that turns out.

And after a fairly quick turnaround, Chad VanGaalen hit the stage, adorned in an incandescent tie-dye shirt. There was a bit of a strange delay at the start, where the lights were down and house music off, but he was still setting equipment up; but he soon apologized and launched into the set, with his band soon joining him. He also apologized, early on, for his last few shows in Vancouver have which he thought have been strange and... less than good, promising to make up for them. His self-deprecation continued later on as he wondered why, exactly, we were all there (him and the band included), but later made sure we knew that he was grateful that everyone was there. As usual, his banter, and stage presence in general, had an incredibly awkward charm with some hilarious moments -- such as when they came back out for the encore Chad and his bass player riffed on possible replacements and attachments for a hook-hand.
Musically, the show was top-notch; probably the best of the three times I've seen him. The set focused on his new album, Diaper Island, with a few older songs, and a few I didn't recognize --  though given the sheer amount of b-sides he has, enough to release eleven albums (on cassette) in the near future, I wouldn't be surprised if they were new. Highlights included the gorgeous "Sara", after which he played a very "VanGaalen-ized" rendition of Happy Birthday in honour of his friend's birthday, and "Molten Light", which got a good amount of [well-deserved] recognition applause. He also showed off his incredible range, with the haunting beauty of "City of Electric Lights" to the bloodcurdling screams of "Freedom for a Policeman".
His shows in the past have always been interesting, unique and a bit eccentric, but always incredible, and this one was no different. There was some obvious improvisation in the set near the end, as they were clearly straying from the setlist, and after a short solo song, "Burning Candle", to "end" it, the band came back for the encore with another new song, and then went into a really weird and hilariously awesome cover of "Summer of '69". It looked like they were about to go into another song after that, but Chad spontaneously proclaimed that to be the perfect ending for the night.
And you know what? It kind of was.

(partial) setlist
Never Cut My Hair, Shave My Pussy, Do Not Fear, Peace On The Rise, Heavy Stones, Sara, (Happy Birthday), City of Electric Light, [mystery song], [mystery song], Replace Me, Burning Photographs, I'm A Witness, [mystery song], Freedom For A Policeman, Molten Light, Rabid Bits of Time, Burning Candle.
(encore) [New Song], Summer of '69

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wachu 7 w/ Dominique Fricot & Sidney York @ Electric Owl -- 10/14/11

A while back at New Years Eve's One Night Stand, a tall gentleman by the name of Dominique Fricot won my over with his voice and presence, and since then I had been meaning to see one of his shows, but there were always conflicts. Then along came the seventh show in the Wachu concert series, with not only Fricot on the bill, but also one of my favourite new artists, Sidney York -- who I've only seen once, at a venue with sub-par sound. So how could I resist?

First up, though, was David Ward, a co-organiser of the Wachu series who plays all the shows. He and his band were incredibly tight, with a good stage presence and a pretty eclectic mix of songs, but never being too directionless. The set including a pretty cool cover of "Helter Skelter" and a funked-up number called "Pace", which got a few people singing, and at one point he was joined by Fricot & the lovely ladies of Sidney York for a song. They ended with a gospel-inspired song, which filled the till-then empty dance floor with people clapping along.
It was a fun set, and while I may not be clamouring to see them live again, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the next Wachu show, especially if it has this good a bill.

Next up was Sidney York, with six-piece band that including an oboe (Sheryl Reindhardt), bassoon (Krista Wodelet), a couple beekeepers, Devon and Luke, and Brandi Sidoryk going from guitar to keys to ukulele and even french horn. Starting with the kind of dark "Math and Fractions", the set exploded with "Cold In Here" and "Roll With Me", both showcasing Brandi's amazing presence on stage, as she was just bubbling over with energy the whole set.
After the building intensity of the title track to, Apocalyptic Radio Cynic, the guys on stage taking a break for "Go Home, Atticus Jones" with Sheryl & Krista staying out for the haunting song. The crazy infectious "Dick & Jane" not only got everyone clapping along, but also whistling (or attempting to), and after the steamy "Doctor, Doctor" they wrapped the set up with one of my favourites, "Mile High Love", with Fricot and Ward up to help with backup vocals. 
The sound was definitely better than last time, but the Electric Owl is still new and learning (hopefully) so there were a few moments of feedback, but other than that it was a great set, and I already can't wait to see her again (which will come soon enough)

And finally, rounding out the night was Dominique Fricot, who was joined by Caleb from Parlour Steps and Rococode's Johnny Andrews & Shaun Huberts as his band. Starting with a pretty rocking and catchy song, his sound and voice initially gave me a bit of a 90s vibe (but not in a stale way), and both grew in depth as the set went on. Fricot had a really good presence, and even though there were a couple lulls between songs, it was never really enough to kill momentum.
Part way through the set, former Painted Birds bandmate Shawn Berke joined them on keys for one song, which I didn't catch the name of, but was a really intense, building song and probably my favourite of the set. The band took a break for a newer song, from his upcoming album, "Haven't Seen Me Dance" before coming back for a really heartwrenching song (which, again I missed the name of) and then the stage filling with David Ward and everyone from Sidney York joining in for the last song -- with some fantastic backup vocals from Brandi -- for a great end to the night.
Hopefully it won't be another nine and a half months before I am able to see Fricot live again.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sigur Rós: Inni

Despite the fact that I go to many, many live shows, I have never been all that into live recordings; either audio or video. Unless I was there, at the show being recorded, it just seems... disconnect.
That being said, regular readers (all 13 of you) know that Sigur Rós is one of my favourite bands, and their live show is one of the best I have ever seen, so when given the opportunity to see their new concert film, Inni at the Vancouver International Film Festival, there was no power in the 'verse that could stop me.

The film was recorded at London's Alexandra Palace in 2008 and while interspersed with some clips -- them on tour, old interviews and a show that looks like them in a very small venue -- it focuses mostly on the show. Clocking in at a little over an hour, the film is magnificently shot, directed by Vincent Morisset (who also did Arcade Fire's Miroir Noir) and does a great job of capturing the beauty and grandeur of the band live.

The song selection is a cross section of their work, going back to Ágætis Byrjun with "Ný batterí" and "Svefn-G-Englar" to "Sæglópur" from Takk... and "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur" from Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust all being incredible recordings, each being so perfect that it's hard to believe they were all from the same show. The film came to an end as Sigur Rós shows often did with "Popplagið" -- "Untitled #8" from ( ) -- which climaxed with a breathtaking... no, you know what? You'll have to watch it for yourself.

If you are already a fan, it is pretty much required viewing and if you are not, you will be after seeing Inni.
The DVD, CD, vinyl, blu-ray and a super-fancy special edition are all available now for preorder, and below is a little taste of what you'll get.

Sigur Rós: Festival (Live) from Sigur Rós on Vimeo.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Peak Performance Project Showcase #5 @ Red Room -- 10/06/11

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.

And here we have it. The last showcase. Starting off the night was Lindsay Bryan, whose band included drummer extraordinaire Jason Cook. She is a talented singer/songwriter, and I enjoyed her set at the time -- she had a good energy and some some well written songs, especially her Vancouver song, but there wasn't much that really stuck with me. I think I would be interested in seeing her live again at some point, especially on a night where she wouldn't be overshadowed by the following acts.

Second up was Maurice, who I had actually seen a few years ago (back when Aidan Knight was still playing bass) but completely forgot about until recently, so I was going in more or less fresh. With one of the most finely crafted set of the showcase series, JP Maurice had a great stage presence and energy, with a few tricks up his sleeve, throwing streamers out into the crowd at random times. The set started a little low key, but built up in energy towards the end, with one of the highlights being "Mistake" and a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams", which sounded kind of strange coming from a male singer, but he nailed it regardless.
Throughout the set there was a cavalcade of guest stars of other PPP artists, with members of The Boom Booms, Jasper Sloan Yip, The Belle Game, Redgy Blackout and The Matinee all coming out to help in some form or another, in a nice show of the camaraderie that has formed from the competition.

Up next was another repeat offender, 41st and Home, in their second year taking part in the Project. While I liked them last year, I honestly don't think I would have put them in my top five, but they have really taken off since then. They started with the band members slowly taking the stage and Summoning Thom, as he came from the back of the crowd, through the room with actual flags waving behind him, rallying everyone to start clapping along as they launched in to "Modern Medicine".
I've seen them a few times in the last year, but I can safely say this was the best and most impressive set I've seen from them; with awesome intensity the set was incredibly dynamic, with each member firing on all cylinders; especially Thom, on guitar and vocals, and Sejal, violin and vocals, who were really playing to the crowd. A crowd that was completely eating them up, with possibly the loudest cheering I've heard in the showcase this year after "Eva". Near the end of the set, Thom once again jumped into the crowd to get everyone clapping, and then back up to finish the set off with "Gorbachev" for an explosive climax.
It was pretty amazing to see how far they've come in the last year, and their set was definitely one of my favourites from this year.

And finaly, wrapping up the whole project was Rococode. They were a favourite of mine going in to the project, and aside from a few audio glitches -- a couple instances of feedback -- they put on as great set as you would expect from them. With their tight, insanely catchy pop rock, sounding more polished than ever.
They opened strong with a couple of songs which never fails to get stuck in my head -- "Dreams" and "Empire" -- and seemed a bit more open to the crowd than previous shows, too, with Andrew chatting a bit more and actively getting the crowd to sing along. Part way through the set they brought out some strings as they toned things down for a moment for a haunting song featuring more of Laura on vocals, before they ended with a bang with "Blood", once again getting the crowd to sing along, and bringing the showcase series to a fantastic end.

And with that, the showcase series is over. The next step now is voting for the artists, which has already begun; you can only vote once, though, so choose wisely! The polls are open until 5pm next Friday, October 14th, and a portion of each artist's total mark comes from online voting.
The top five will be revealed at on October 26th on The Peak, with the unranked top three taking part in the grand finale show at the Commodore Ballroom November 17. And that night, someone will walk atay $100,500 richer.

And just in closing, a huge thanks to everyone at The Peak and MusicBC for making this happen.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shows of October

Well, I did this last month, so let's try it again, shall we? Here are some of the shows I am excited about in the month of October. It's a pretty stacked month, with lots of great shows announced so far (with a few conflicting ones, too).

Big Sugar with Wide Mouth Mason at the Commodore on October 21st & 22nd.
Top of the list would have to be this show, no question. I was at the Commodore eight years ago for what was, at the time, Big Sugar's final Vancouver show and it was phenomenal. I was thrilled when they got back together, and when they announced Wide Mouth Mason -- who Gordie Johnson now plays bass with -- would be opening? well, their show at the Yale in January has probably been one of my favourite shows of the year, so that's just extra added awesome.

Chad VanGaalen at the Rio Theatre on October 15th
Even though Pop Okanagan is happening this same weekend, I am pretty sure seeing CVG live trumps an entire festival. It will be two years to the day (and, in fact, at the same venue) since I last saw him, which is far too long. (Accompanied video not mine, was taken from the last show, with Julie Fader on keys)

Kathryn Calder at the Biltmore on October 27th
Even though I've seen her a couple times this year, Calder is always incredible live. Her new album is out soon, and I am very much looking forward to seeing her live again.

Dominique Fricot with Sidney York at the Electric Owl on October 14th
Ten and a half months. That's all it took between seeing him at One Night Stand and finally seeing him perform his own material. Which is inexcusable. And of course, there's Sidney. The only time I've seen her was at a venue with sub-par sound, so I am very excited to see her somewhere that will sound good.

And the conflicts? That lies with the aforementioned Big Sugar/WMM show as well as:
Sidney York with The Ruffled Feathers & The Belle Game at the Railway on October 20th.
Zeus at the Biltmore on October 21st
The Zolas & The Liptonians on October 20th at the Electric Owl and October 24nd at St James Hall
So. There's all that. Zeus is a fantastic live band who haven't been here since the (incredible) Bonfire Ball tour. The Liptonians blew me away live earlier this year, and pairing them with The Zolas is perfect. And the show at the Railway has just an excellent lineup. There could be a way to see all the shows, but it might be tough!

Oh, and there's the last Peak Performance Project showcase with Maurice, Lindsay Bryan, 41st & Home and Rococode on the 6th at the Red Room well as Danny Michel with Jody Glenham at the Biltmore on the 13th, which should be fun, and of course, the Foo Fighters at Rogers Arena on the 25th. But as much as I love the Foos, and as great a live show as they put on, I have a feeling I won't be able to make this show unless I somehow get press, or win tickets...

Whew. That's a lot of shows.