Friday, November 25, 2011

Imaginary Cities @ Biltmore -- 11/24/11

Come the end of the year, when it is time to make lists and all that, I am certain that one spot on the list will be taken by Temporary Resident, the debut album from Imaginary Cities. I had seen them live earlier this year at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, and even thought I saw them four separate times, it was never for long enough, so I was eager for a headlining show of their own; which turned out to be their first headlining show in Vancouver.

They brought Toronto's The Coppertone along with them to open the show, who had a very blues rock feel to them, with Amanda Zelina's strong, smoky voice complimenting the loud, driving guitar very nicely. There was a good energy to the set, with most of the songs having the same electric-roots feel -- though there was a moment mid-set where they took things down for a moment for a slower, ballad-y number.
They had a good presence while playing, but for the most part there wasn't much banter, with the bass player doing most of the talking -- and his killing time while Amanda changed strings only bordering on awkward. Ultimately, I quite liked them, and would definitely be interested in checking them out next time they're through town.

Not long after it was time for Imaginary Cities, as they hit the stage starting with the lead track of Temporary Resident, "Say You". Marti's voice was, as ever, superb and hypnotic with Rusty on top of his game as usual, to say nothing of the rest of the band. Early on in the set they hit one of my favourite songs of the year, "Ride This Out", starting soft and building to a frantic ending, and after a magnificent cover of Cake's "Mexico" they slipped in some new songs. The new stuff was distinctly "Imaginary Cities" but also showed growth, making me very anxious for what's next from the band.
They teased an end of the set with the insanely infectious "Hummingbird", with the packed Biltmore clapping along, and were back out for another pair -- "the only other two songs [they] knew" -- with "Don't Cry" and the most perfect way to end off, the beautiful "That's Where It's At, Sam".
A fantastic set from the band who meshes so well together you would hardly knew they are still in their infancy. Though practically non-stop touring for the last few months definitely helped with that, and as if there was any doubt, this show cemented them as one of my favourite new bands of this year.

setlist
Say You; Marry the Sea; Temporary Resident; Ride This Out; Cherry Blossom Tree; Where'd All the Living Go; Mexico [Cake cover]; [Turning of the Tide?]; [Bells of Cologne?]; [Water Under the Bridge?]; Hummingbird.
(encore) Don't Cry; That's Where It's At, Sam.

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