Sunday, November 28, 2010

Henry & The Nightcrawlers w/ Zach Gray & David Vertesi @ Billy Bishop Legion -- 11/27/10

Some of Vancouver's finest musicians came together at the Billy Bishop Legion Hall for the Record Release Party of Henry & The Nightcrawler's debut full length, 100 Blows.

The night started out with The Zolas' Zachary Gray playing a solo set. I wasn't actually sure what Tom-less Zolas songs would sound like, but I should have had more faith in Zach, as he was able to pull off the songs with his usual effortlessness. They were different, sure, but they were definitely not weird... or worse.
It was only a short set of half a dozen songs, and mostly Zolas songs, but he threw in a couple songs from his old band, Lotus Child, as well. I am woefully unfamiliar with Lotus Child, so those songs were cool to see. He ended with "Marlaina Kamikaze", which was probably the most different from the original, but also best song of the set. I also finally captured the new(ish) song "Guest" on video, after it getting perpetually stuck in my head every time I see it live. Not great video quality, but the audio is what matters.

You're Too Cool, Guest, Coelacanth (LC), Gossip Diet (LC), The Great Collapse, Marlaina Kamikaze.

Second up was David Vertesi, and before he even started, the crowd was singing him a very off key but well meaning rendition of happy birthday. He was joined by David Joseph on bass (or sometimes keytar) playing from his debut solo album, Cardiography. His set was also just a handful of songs, but his smooth voice and charm got the crowd shoulder-shimmying along. Aside from his own songs, part way through the set he called up his Hey Ocean! bandmate Dave Beckingham for some help, only for the three Dave's (all in plaid) to be joined by Ashleigh Ball to play Hey Ocean!'s "Jolene". Another highlight of the set was "Hearts Don't Break, People Do" which, given the lyrics, would be strange to call heartbreaking, but the emotion that poured out from the song was palpable.
At the end of the set, he was surprised on stage by a cake, and another happy birthday singing.

Gentlemen Say, Mountainside, Broadcasting, Jolene (HO!), Soft Skin, Hearts Don't Break People Do, All Night, All Night, All Night.

And finally, it was time for Henry & The Nightcrawlers. Tonight, the Nightcrawlers were to be played by Zach G on bass, with We Are The City's Andy & Cayne on drums & keys (respectively). That was the lineup that I last saw them as (making this the first time I've seen Henry play with the same backing band, interestingly enough) and the lineup that just finished a short tour. It was probably both of those factors that helped this be the best set I had seen from the band yet. The way each of them played off each other, both while performing and even stage banter, you could tell (even before Henry admitted it) that the four guys on stage were best friends. They played all of the new album, though not in order, with a couple highlights being "On A Week Night", which had a fantastic build to the ending, and "Amberly" with a slight lyrical adjustment, giving a mention to one Brenda Lee (the blogger, not the singer). 
After a brief mention of Billy Bishop, who the place they were playing in is named after, they played a cover of The Kinks' "Strangers", and "ended" the set with the title track to the album, "100 Blows".
I've always said I like encored better when they are short and consist of something special, either covers or jamming, not just a couple more regular songs -- those should be in the "main" set! -- so I quite enjoyed the one-song encore, which was a cover of Elliott Smith's "Needle In The Hay".

I should be used to it by now, but I never fail to be impressed with the music community that has been built in Vancouver. Tonight was another prime example of musicians from various bands who are willing to come together and support not just their follow musicians, but their friends.

The Fight (La Lucha), Daytime Friend, The New Guy, The Fucking, On A Week Night, Amberly, Girl Drinks Red Wine In A Bathtub, Fan The Flames, Strangers [The Kinks cover], 100 Blows.
(encore) Needle In The Hay [Elliott Smith cover]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Grinderman @ Commodore -- 11/26/10

Disclaimer: I am a huge Nick Cave fan. I consider Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds one of my top four favourite bands. And in the seven or so years that I have been a fan, he has not once come to play a show in Vancouver. So when Grinderman -- a side project with Cave and Bad Seeds Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos -- announced the show at the Commodore, I was more than a little excited (as those who follow me on the Twitters witnessed. Repeatedly.) But despite my infinite enthusiasm, I was also a little wary. Had I built this up so much in my mind that there was no possibly way my expectations could be met? Nick Cave is, after all, only human (I suspect).

The opener was an interesting choice: Armen Ra. He came out on stage alone, introduced himself, then introduced the unusual instrument he was about to play, with a little background on it. That instrument? The theremin. I have no idea why, but I've always had a mild obsession with the theremin, so my interest was more than a little piqued. Even though I had seen the theremin played live a few times, it was mostly in the middle of a song, briefly, and played somewhat haphazardly. This, however, was nothing like that. It was quite incredible seeing someone that skilled actually playing it. His set consisted of playing over a recorded orchestra and/or piano, and with a couple of classical songs, like "Ave Maria". There were a couple hecklers, but for the most part the crowd was very into it and appreciative, and I was very impressed.

And then, it was time for Grinderman. They took the stage and launched into the opening track from their second album (appropriately titled Grinderman 2), "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man" and it was immediately apparent I should have had earplugs; they were loud. From there they went into the new single "Worm Tamer" and played almost all of their two albums, over an hour and a half. "Get It On" somehow upped the intensity, and each song following managed to top the last, until half way through the set they brought it down for a moment with "What I Know". But there was hardly a moment to catch our breaths before "Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars)" exploded again. If repressed sexual energy and frustration was a music genre, Grinderman would be masters of it. With crass and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, the entire set seemed to build up to the climax, "No Pussy Blues". Cave manically spat out the lyrics, standing on the monitors, as the song erupted with overdriven guitars and chaotic drumming. They ended the main set, appropriately enough, with the final song from Grinderman 2, "Bellringer Blues", a more downbeat and slightly eerie song.

They made us work for the encore, coming back out a few minutes later for a few more. It was a little more tame -- or as tame as Grinderman can be -- starting with the somewhat sweet "Palaces of Montezuma". "Love Bomb" brought the energy back before they ended the night with their self titled song, "Grinderman", full of shakers and hissing, and building to an insane ending with Cave just attacking his guitar.

Cave has been making music for almost four decades, and he has both the experience to show it and the energy of younger musician. I have seen newer bands who have had a fraction of the amount of energy that Grinderman had -- especially Warren Ellis, but especially Cave. While there wasn't much by way of banter -- the usual "thank you's" as about it -- they built up the rapport with the crowd with Cave stalking the stage, going right up to the edge, crouching down and sometimes singing to the lucky people up front, even directing the lyrics to them. It was loud, it was frantic, it was full of raw energy. They were less a band and more a force of nature. My ears are still ringing, and as you may be able to tell from the clumsy attempts, I am having a hard time putting the experience into words. I have no doubt this will be among my shows of the year, and one I will not soon forget. It may not have been with The Bad Seeds, but finally seeing Nick Cave live means my life is that much closer to being complete.

Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man, Worm Tamer, Get It On, Heathen Child, When My Baby Comes, What I Know, Honey Bee (Let's Fly To Mars), Kitchenette, No Pussy Blues, Bellringer Blues.
[encore] Palaces of Montezuma, When My Love Comes Down, Man On The Moon, Love Bomb, Grinderman.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Small Sins @ Media Club -- 11/25/10

It was a few years ago, when they were still called The Ladies & Gentlemen, that I first saw Small Sins live. They opened for Matthew Good and I was immediately hooked, especially with the one guy who had boundless energy. That "one guy" turned out to be Kevin Hilliard, who has his own persona as "The Clapper" and whose face adorns Small Sins merch, from t-shirts to foam hands. As much as Thomas D'Arcy is the band -- he recorded the first two albums himself -- Hilliard is a major factor for why their live show is so entertaining.
The band has been on a bit of a hiatus; their last album was in '07, and it was two years since I had seen them live. But those shows had always been great, and I enjoy the new album (the first recorded with the full band), so I was rather excited for the show.

Unfortunately we arrived just after the opening band, Lovers Love Haters ended, but just in time for Small Sins. They kicked off with the slower "My Dear", before bursting into "On The Line", and kept a great energy up through the entire set. They're one of those bands that you can just tell they are having a blast on stage, and that translates into an incredible energy. Especially Hilliard, who is one of the most energetic people I've seen play live. They bantered back and forth with each other as much as the crowd, but never making it those awkward in-joke that only the people on stage got. The enthusiasm showed by the band on stage was definitely infectious and had everyone in the half-full Media Club engaged.
They played mostly from the new album, but also a mix of older material. Even the acrid smell of smoke half way through didn't deter them as they got everyone in the room moving or clapping along. The main set ended with "Deja Vu", which was great live, but where k-os normally was in the song was just an instrumental full... which was a bit jarring.
They came back out for the encore, without D'Arcy, and Hilliard nailing his own version of Van Halen's "Jump", which was all sorts of cheesy-awesome. I've always been impressed with the Small Sins encores; they are one of the few bands I have seen do an actual encore, and even if the coming back was planned for this show, the songs they played were not, giving it a more genuine feeling rather than the usual practice of a band planning one. When D'Arcy came back, they discussed which songs to play and admitted to not knowing or screwing up some songs at previous shows. It gave it a really spontaneous quality to the encore. "Pot Calls Kettle Black" and a couple older ones closed out the show, and they prefaced "It's Easy" by saying it was the last time they would ever play it... then joked about how it was not the first time they had put the song into retirement, and that they had probably done so in Vancouver before. Then proclaimed it would only be played in Vancouver, and launched into it. At the start, Hilliard disappeared from stage, only to come back and have a synth-duel with D'Arcy. Who then left the stage himself, with his bass in the hands of a random dude pulled on stage, and let the self-admitted half-in-the-bag Hilliard go nuts, running into the crowd to play the end of the song.

It was definitely one of the most fun and entertaining shows of the year, and even though there was another show, with great bands, happening at the same time down the street, I do not for a minute regret choosing Small Sins over it. I just hope it isn't another two years before I see them again. And that more people will be able to share in the show.

My Dear, On The Line, Airport, On The Run, Stay, Never Again, Why Don't You Believe Me?, She's The Source, We Will Break Our Own Hearts, Too Much To Lose, I Need A Friend, What Your Baby's Been Doing, You Will Lie, Deja Vu.
[encore] Jump (Van Halen cover), Pot Calls Kettle Black, Threw It All Away, It's Easy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Musical Roots: The New Pornographers

Regular readers (all nine of you) may know I am currently schooling at BCIT, in the Radio Broadcast program. In our second, and final, year we take over the station Evolution1079*. At the station we are given rotating jobs every week, and a couple weeks ago I was tasked with Musical Roots; a 45 minute 'Ongoing History Of New Music' type program, where we take a close look at a particular topic. Because these ran at 11pm on a week when our streaming was down, and because I put a lot of work into these (wrote, voiced, produced... did everything myself) I would like to share it with you, fine reader, as a podcast.

This is the third of four episodes, which will released on a [hopefully] weekly basis in the next month. While the first two were more a chronological history of the featured acts, this one is a little different. This week I take a look at not only The New Pornographers, but also all the things that go to make up the band. All of the various members other bands; AC Newman, Neko Case, Destroyer, Immaculate Machine, Limblifter, Fancey and The Evaporators. And then of course, a look at The New Pornos themselves. The feature is in three 15 minute segments, and that is how I present them to you. In streaming or downloadable options.

I hope you enjoy it, and I would very much welcome any sort of feedback you may have (positive or negative), either commented here or through the emails at: 3amRevelations [at] gmail [dot] com.

Download The New Pornographers Part One

Download The New Pornographers Part Two

Download The New Pornographers Part Three

*If you enjoy this blog and do not know of this station, I suggest you give it a listen. We play a lot of awesome music, and I don't just say this because I am the current music director.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Friendly Fires

Since the release of Versicolour earlier this year (which I loved), to say Aidan Knight has been on a hot streak is kind of an understatement. He's been constantly touring, even a part of the Malahat Revue. Won $5,000 (and the hearts of listeners everywhere) from The Peak and Music BC in the Peak Performance Project. And Is currently in the running for a pair CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards; Most Canadian Song for "Jasper" and Best New Artist (which you can vote for here, until the 28th).

Not one to let that momentum run out, he will be releasing a new EP, Friendly Fires, on November 30 from Adventure Boys Club. Here is the title track from the two song recording for your listening pleasure.

Download Friendly Fire

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wil w/ Shaun Verreault @ Media Club -- 11/19/10

I am no stranger to seeing either Wil or Shaun Verreault live, and they're definitely no strangers to each other. I first discovered (and fell in love with, musically) Wil when he opened for Wide Mouth Mason, and I saw a pair of shows at UBC's Pit Pub with the two of them playing acoustically. So when I found out Shaun would be opening for Wil at his show at the Media Club, I was more than a little excited. Like those two previous shows, the two each came out to play acoustic sets. Or as Shaun put it: "Thanks for coming to see two men, naked on stage... holding wood."

Shaun Verreault, who you may know from Wide Mouth Mason, kicked off the night playing a set of his own material. Opening with "Too Much for Too Little", he covered material from both of his solo albums, as well as a brand new one written that day (as per a bet with Wil) and what I think was a new Wide Mouth Mason tune -- he prefaced it by saying the band will be recording, with Gordie Johnson on bass, soon. Verreault is a great storyteller in his songs, and that translates really well to his stage banter. He wove a few tales between songs, including the hilarious story of when he opened for the Beach Boys and had a bit of a verbal altercation with one of the members, who wasn't quite a fan of Shaun's set. He brought the set to an close with "Catch My Death", which was essentially a five minute guitar clinic. I always seem to forget just how incredible a musician Verreault is until I see him live, and he never fails to amaze me. I really hope I get the chance to see him perform again soon, and I really hope that the new Wide Mouth Mason incarnation, with Johnson, plays here soon as well.

And then there was Wil, who lived up to his reputation by breaking at least one, of not two, strings during the set. I've mentioned before how much I absolutely love watching Wil play live, and he was as good as ever. Like Shaun, his set was rather loose and intimate with a good amount of stories and joking between the songs. The size of the Media Club helped for sure, but a couple times he even played a song that was randomly yelled out from the crowd -- both older songs from his first album -- adding to the intimacy. Aside from those, he held up his end of the bet by playing a brand new song called "Angry Dog" and joked (I hope!) that it was so new it would never get played again. "Cooder Mountain" grew to an amazing intensity and "Honey Pie" -- one of my favourite songs -- was just mindblowing, as usual. After closing the set with the tender "Big Life" he came back out for one more, despite the mounting snow. The song was one that he has had for a while, but remains unreleased; I hope that changes soon, as it was quite good.

My only disappointment from the show was that they didn't jam together for the encore. The shows they played together both featured that, but not so much this time. Even if it were just for a song or two, it would have been cool to see. But despite that, both men put on amazing sets, and anyone who has the opportunity to see either one live would be a fool not to take it.

Long Kiss Goodnight, Wedding Dress, Mama, Angry Dog, Both Hands, Cooder Mountain, The Deal, Honey Pie, Big Life.
[encore] Shipwreck.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Peak Performance Project Finale with Vince Vaccaro, Said The Whale & Kyprios @ Commodore -- 11/18/10

Earlier this year, I asked "Where the hell do they go from here?", about the Peak Performance Project. I though there was no way they could live up to the first year. Well, overall... I think they more than surpassed it. There were more than a few bands that I either discovered, or gained a new appreciation for, after following the second instalment for the last five months. And I certainly do not envy the judges who had to make the final decision. Even though I disagreed with the top five on a few points, they were all fine talents that deserve the money. I hope the bands involved go on to keep doing what they're doing, and I hope The Peak continues to support them, even (or especially) the ones that didn't make the top five.
But on to the show itself. The top three artists -- Vince Vaccaro, Said The Whale and Kyprios -- all had a set to play before the awarding of the monies: $100,500 for first place, $75,000 for second and $50,000 for third.

Opening the show was Vince Vaccaro, as his band slowly filtered on stage, and he came out last, blowing the conch (not a euphemism). I was struck by his energy at his showcase show, and he somehow managed to be even more energetic last night. Though, not to sound like "that guy", but I fully admit I like his older stuff better. It has a bit of an East-Coast-Rocker vibe more than the Surfer-Rock his more recent stuff seems to have, so I was glad when he pulled out "Heart In Hands", his first song I heard, and still my favourite of his. That said, he and his backing band did the songs well, and had most of the crowd hooked, even getting a song-along to the oft-covered "Stand by Me" by Ben E. King (originally). While he may not have been one of my picks for the top three -- or even top five -- with a set like this, I can see why he made it.

The odds-on favourite Said The Whale was up second. Drummer Spencer was the only one suited up, but I might be able to forgive Tyler, since he was wearing Aidan Knight on his shirt (from a Christine McAvoy photograph, if I'm not mistaken). They started off with one of my favourites, "Love Is Art/Sleep Through Fire" before launching into "The City's A Mess", getting everyone clapping along. Like Vince, and Kyprios after them, they seemed to really step up their game and put on possibly one of the better sets I have seen from them. Most of their set was from their previous two records, but they slipped in a sort-of-new song, which they've been playing live for a while. I don't think they've ever named it, so I am going to arbitrarily call it "Information Age" It's called "We Are 1980" and it had a bit more of a synth-y edge to it. That, combined with their "Last Night" song (which they didn't play) makes me interested to hear more new material.
Near the end they called up damn near everyone from their fellow bands for their Peak viral video, "We Are The Music: Musicians for (spare) Change" which had many of the members come to help out on vocals and was a pretty amazing sight. They asked everyone to stay up for their standard closing song, "Goodnight Moon", turning the stage into a full on dance party.

Last, but certainly not least, was Kyprios, looking very dapper. He came out with a single spotlight on him and started beatboxing, for his ten piece band to slowly come in and join him. He took control of the stage immediately, with his Jazz-Hop or Swing-Hop sound with an energy that would be hard to match. His songs were not only insanely catchy, but his backing band, The Chaperones, are a damn hard working band. There were also a few songs that seemed to have an almost narrative, or stream of conscious flow to them, which I really liked. And hopefully I'm not just imagining it. Fellow PeakPP member Greg Sczebel came out and joined him briefly, and he also pulled out his Canadian cover from his Red Room showcase. Starting with a medley of various classic Canadian songs, it culminated with his version of "Sweet City Woman" originally by The Stampeeders. Near the end he passed out lighters, to be lit for a song for lost friends, and he ended the set with the insanely energetic "This Is My Hit".
All day I had been thinking Said The Whale was going to take it, but as soon as he hit the stage, I had a weird feeling that it would, in fact, be Kyprios taking home the oversized novelty cheque. And as his set went on, I became more and more convinced.

And then was the moment that the room (some more than others) had been waiting for, the winners. They announced third place first, which went to Vince Vaccaro, and went right to first place, not as a slight to second, but to give first place a bit more fanfare. And, as I am sure you are already aware of, Said The Whale took second place, and first place went to Kyprios. While I, honestly, would probably not have picked him as my number one, I can not argue that he doesn't deserve it. Especially after seeing his set. The room exploded with applause and confetti, though there were a few boo's, which, come on people. I know you wanted "your" band to win, but it not only makes you look like a jerk, but even makes the band look a little worse, too. Real classy. But that was only a small pocket, and the rest of the crowd was good about it.

It was a great end to an amazing competition, though it will be interesting to see the talent line up for next year. While the first year had a mostly unknown bands, this year had a good amount of bands that were already established. I know there was some criticism for some of those established bands being in the competition, so I'm curious to see if that will happen. Whatever the case, I can not wait to see how it goes, and I hope I can get as involved (if not more so) than I was able to this year. Thank you The Peak and Music BC!

And just for full disclosure, here are my personal picks. I thought Aidan Knight should have won the whole shebang, and my top five favourites were, in no particular order: Knight, Jess Hill, Said The Whale, Christina Maria and Adaline. That said, it was very hard to choose, as at least half of the bands I ended up really liking, and I don't think there wasn't a single one I flat out disliked.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jess Hill, Steph Macpherson & Katie Schaan @ Cafe Deuz Soleil -- 11/17/10

Three acts involved in this years Peak Performance Project (two directly, one as a band member) came together at Cafe Deux Soleil for a really great bill. Each of the lovely ladies singing had similar sounds -- a bit folk-alt-country-ish -- but all were distinct enough to not be repetitive. They did a round, each playing two sets, but I will lump both sets together for the purpose of me being lazy.

First (and fourth) up was Katie Schaan, who had her own handmade goods for sale in the appropriately named Knitted Goods Tour. She came out alone, and I was immediately impressed with how powerful her voice was, especially for a small person. She moved from ukulele to keyboard in her first set, then was on guitar in the second, and had a great energy on stage. Though there was one moment where she was trying to tune, and the show slowed to a crawl... but she managed to hold peoples attention with a story about touring with (or without) pyjamas.
Most of her songs were, as she fully admitted, about the same thing (boys, and the emotions they stir up), and while it didn't detract from the set, I would be interested to hear her take on more. The one that impressed me the most, was about wanting to have a little more with a close friend. I didn't catch the name of, but it was a very powerful song, full of emotion, and definitely attention-grabbing.

Steph Macpherson was out next, and I was surprised to see Matt Kelly of Treelines up with her, on acoustic guitar. It seemed like it was their first time playing together, and if it was, Kelly picked up on Macpherson's songs quickly and it was barely noticeable. Aside from the pair, Schaan joined them for a few songs doing backup vocals, or leading the stomp/snap for one song. Which managed to get a good number of people participating. Both her sound and voice reminds me a little of a Kathleen Edwards, and she was very natural on stage, with an effortless air about her and pretty smooth banter.
The first time I saw her was with a full band, at her Peak Performance showcase, and it could be because I am more familiar with her music now, but I was almost more impressed with her quasi-solo act. I will definitely be interested in seeing her again with a band, though, to see how it compares.

It's not quite right to say she was closing, so the "last chapter" -- as she put it -- of the night was Jess Hill. This was the first time I has seen her solo as well, and she was no less impressive with no backup. I am continually amazed by her commanding voice; like the other times I've seen her, when she started her first set with an a capella number, the room hushed (well, as much as would be expected from a cafe). There were also a few times where she stepped off the mic and let loose. And she has the talent to back up her voice, as well. It would be easy for a single person with a guitar to be boring on stage, but her storytelling, both in and between songs, was captivating -- she prefaced one song with a story about moths and the moon that, while a little lengthy, was an interesting setup for the song (and I say this having heard it before).
She ended the set with a song I have loved each time I've seen it performed, yet still have not gotten the name of. She starts a capella again, with some crowd-screaming participation, before crashing in with a pretty intense song. Judging by the lyrics, I would wager a guess that it is called "Digging a Hole".

I have gone on about the Vancouver music scene before, and this is another example of both the talent here (and on the Island), and the sense of community. Not only did these three acts come together, but a number of other local musicians were also there to support their friends, and no doubt enjoy the great music of the evening.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Musical Roots: Matthew Good Band

Regular readers (all nine of you) may know I am currently schooling at BCIT, in the Radio Broadcast program. In our second, and final, year we take over the station Evolution1079*. At the station we are given rotating jobs every week, and a couple weeks ago I was tasked with Musical Roots; a 45 minute 'Ongoing History Of New Music' type program, where we take a close look at a particular topic. Because these ran at 11pm on a week when our streaming was down, and because I put a lot of work into these (wrote, voiced, produced... did everything myself) I would like to share it with you, fine reader, as a podcast.

This is the second of four episodes, which will released on a [hopefully] weekly basis in the next month. This one is a look at the history of the Matthew Good Band. Matt Good is probably my favourite musician, so this was especially fun to do. The feature is in three 15 minute segments, and that is how I present them to you. In streaming or downloadable options.

I hope you enjoy it, and I would very much welcome any sort of feedback you may have (positive or negative), either commented here or through the emails at: 3amRevelations [at] gmail [dot] com.

Download Matthew Good Band Part One

Download Matthew Good Band Part Two

Download Matthew Good Band Part Three

*If you enjoy this blog and do not know of this station, I suggest you give it a listen. We play a lot of awesome music, and I don't just say this because I am the current music director.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dan Mangan @ The Vogue -- 11/13/10

Not many acts can sell out The Vogue, let alone for two shows. And not many acts can sell out two shows, only six months after another pair of sold out shows. But Dan Mangan isn't just any act, and his hometown shows are always a sight to see.

The first band up was The Crackling, who were some familiar faces. Kenton Loewen was joined by Gord Grdina and Colin Cowan, who all happen to be members of Dan Mangan's band as well. When I had seen The Crackling before, it was just Kenton, so it was interesting to see them as a full band; with Loewen on acoustic guitar, Grdina on electric and Cowan on stand up bass, they gave the songs a richness that wasn't necessarily missing last time, but was definitely welcome. Near the end of the set, they brought out a special guest to play the drums... none other than Dan Mangan himself, and had the crowd singing along to the awesomely named "Keep Me Drunk". It's rare that an opening band can get audience participation, but their engaging songs and stage presence won a lot of people over. Speaking of, they also had some great banter. Kenton has always come across as a pretty funny guy on stage, and when paired with Cowan, the back and forth between them was priceless.
I really enjoyed the set, though I wasn't able to grab a CD, which I regret... but hopefully next time.

After a short break, an emcee came up and introduced The Burning Hell as a "mediocre band from Ontario" before going off stage... and coming back as the lead singer. They had a folk rock feel, with the lead singer on guitar, backed up be a cello and a synth table, which included a glockenspiel, but was named as "whatever that stuff is". All of their songs told stories, and were pretty damn funny, but not in a "novelty song" way, rather with well written and intricate lyrics. There were even a couple callbacks in songs. It only took half a song for them to win me over, and I wouldn't be surprised if I was the only one. At any other show they probably would have outshone the headliner. I was unable to pick up their album as well, and I'm really hoping they're back soon and I get to rectify that.

And finally, it was time for Dan Mangan. He hit the stage with the band and launched into a new song -- I think, at least -- and then brought out the strings and horns for "Sold". He played a few from Nice, Nice, Very Nice before pulling out a newer one, that he's played live for a while now, "Oh Fortune". After that he went into a one-two punch of "Fair Verona" and "Basket", two of his most epic songs. A fair amount of the sold out Vogue was singing along to "Basket", too, and I'm sure there were not many dry eyes in the house for that. He went on to play a few more new ones, "Jeopardy" which consists entirely of questions and "Rows of Houses" (or "Rose of Houses", but that makes less sense), inspired by Stand By Me. All the new songs were impressive, and some seemed to have a bit more of an edge to them; I am very excited to hear them on the next record -- which Dan said they will begin working on in December. The set ended, as expected, with "Robots" and almost the entire house joining in.
He came back for the encore, kind of knocking the tradition, and said he would be doing something a bit special and different. First he brought out Veda Hille to join him on "The Indie Queens Are Waiting", which was great, and then played a damn good cover of Elliott Smith's "Waltz #2". I am very much of the opinion that encores should include special guests, cover songs, and other neat things you wouldn't get in the "main" set, so I quite liked those touches. To end the night, Dan not only called The Burning Hell back on stage, but enlisted the help of the audience for backup "ooh-ooooh's" for "So Much For Everyone", which is always a powerful ending to his shows, especially as he was playing [almost] completely unamplified.

It was a very good show, as you would expect, but he seemed to be a bit less talkative this time. There was some banter and back & forth with the crowd and his band mates, but it didn't seem as much as he usually does. Mangan is as great at the banter as he is a musician, so it was noticeably missing. There was another issue I had, but it was a minor quabble and hardly the fault of the band, and that was the lighting. There were some parts, all throughout the night, that it seemed like every three seconds I was getting eye-meltingly-bright lights directly in the face. Maybe I just had unfortunate seats, but it got to be quite annoying.

Those minor issues aside, it was still an amazing time, and Mangan continues to cement his place as not only one of Vancouver's, but one of Canada's greatest talents.

[new song?], Sold, You Silly Git, Road Regrets, Tina's Glorious Comeback, Oh Fortune, Fair Verona, Basket, Jeopardy, Leaves Trees Forest, Rows Of Houses, Some People, Robots.
[encore] The Indie Queens Are Waiting, Waltz #2 (XO) [Elliott Smith cover], So Much For Everyone.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin @ Biltmore -- 11/12/10

It was a full night in the city, with Brasstronaut and Hollerado also playing shows, but both of those bands I had seen earlier this year, so I went with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. That, and they would be the least likely to be back soon.

The Lonely Forest, from Anacortes, Washington, opened the night, with a fair amount of super-fans in the crowd. They had a pretty good sound, but nothing that really set them apart. "Turn Off This Song And Go Outside" was a standout of the set, but a lot of their songs sounded kind of similar, and had the same structure. Still, I wouldn't mind catching them again. They said it was only their second time in Vancouver, but hopefully they'll be back, since they're just over the border.

It had been a couple years since I saw Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, so I was a bit anxious. They hit the stage with the best prop ever, a life size cardboard cutout of Han Solo, and their incredible energy and stage presence had the crowd dancing and clapping along to their pitch perfect indie pop. I was a bit sad they didn't play "All Hail Dracula!", my favourite from their new album, Let It Sway, but the subtle energy of "Anna Lee" -- always feeling like it's just about to burst -- and "Pangea", which features some of my favourite lyrics: "pangea, we used to be together, why'd we have to drift apart?" both made up for it. They played a good mix of older and new, and at one point the drummer, guitarist and bassist did a little switcheroo and changed roles for the rest of the set. While they were not overly talkative for the most part, they still had some good stage banter & antics; dedicating a song to the lights on the mountains they thought were UFO's and player guitar around the Han Solo cutout for the first song of the encore. They put on a hell of a fun show, and I just hope it isn't another two years before I get to see them again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Musical Roots: The Dears

Regular readers (all eight of you) may know I am currently schooling at BCIT, in the Radio Broadcast program. In our second, and final, year we take over the station Evolution1079*. At the station we are given rotating jobs every week, and last week I was tasked with Musical Roots; a 45 minute 'Ongoing History Of New Music' type program, where we take a close look at a particular topic. Because these ran at 11pm on a week when our streaming was down, and because I put a lot of work into these (wrote, voiced, produced... did everything myself) I would like to share it with you, fine reader, as a podcast.

I did four episodes, and so I will release them on a [hopefully] weekly basis in the next month. The first is a look at the history of one of my favourite bands, The Dears. The feature is in three 15 minute segments, and that is how I present them to you. In streaming or downloadable options.

I hope you enjoy it, and I would very much welcome any sort of feedback you may have (positive or negative), either commented here or through the emails at: 3amRevelations [at] gmail [dot] com.

Download The Dears Part One

Download The Dears Part Two

Download The Dears Part Three

*If you enjoy this blog and do not know of this station, I suggest you give it a listen. We play a lot of awesome music, and I don't just say this because I am the current music director.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Trews @ Vogue -- 11/06/10

When I first heard The Trews were doing an acoustic album and shows, I was a little wary of how it would sound. Turns out I was foolish to doubt them, as their album was pretty great and the show at the Rio last year was outstanding. So when I found out they were coming again, I couldn't pass it up.

Opening act was Tim Chaisson, who intrigued me when he mentioned he had worked with Joel Plaskett and Gordie Johnson, then won me over with a pretty good cover of "All Hell For A Basement". From PEI, he was out with just another guy on guitar, and had a very east coast sound, especially when he broke out the fiddle to do some standards. I would be interested to see if his regular stuff is the same acoustic tone that he had, or if he was just playing acoustic for the tour. I didn't get a chance to pick up his album, but I'll definitely have to keep an eye ear out for him in the future.

The Trews took the stage, on stools, promising a more low-key show; but even The Trews low-key and acoustic is pretty rocking. "Sing Your Heart Out" got things going, and they played songs from all over their three albums, even ones that are not on their acoustic Friends & Total Strangers. They played two sets, the first consisted of just the four of them and included some great songs like "Every Inambition", and a new song, "One By One". More than a couple songs has everyone sing/yelling along and when they ended with "Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me", on my my favourites, they turned the mic over to the crowd for the chorus.
At the beginning of the set, they tossed out a couple balloons to go around, which lasted longer here than in any other city, according to Colin. Though he seemed to be getting mildly annoyed that they kept coming on stage instead of staying in the crowd.
After a short break they brought out Jeff Heisholt on accordion, as well as Tim Chaisson and the other guy who played with Tim for some support. That set started with the great "Can't Stop Laughing" and topped the energy of the first set. "Yearning" included a great breakdown by the amazingly talented John-Angus on guitar and Tim Chaisson on the fiddle, and after the salute to the troops song, "Highway of Heroes", they pulled out another now one, "Love Is A Real Thing". The new songs were really good, and I'm curious to see what they'll be like fully electric. At one point, Colin was handed a card (from Canadian Tire) that said it was someones birthday, so they sang for her, with most of the crowd joining in. After another sing along for "Not Ready To Go", they brought the second set to a close with another one of my favourites, "Ishmael & Maggie"
But of course, they came back out for the encore with another new song, "You've Got To Let Me In", a cover of Faces' "Oh La La" and then tore the place down with "Hold Me In Your Arms", with a little bit of Zeppelin slipped in.

I've seen The Trews about a half dozen times live now, and even acoustic, they are full of such raw energy and put on an amazing show. After their acoustic show last year, I wasn't sure if they would be playing any more, but I am glad that they decided to keep going with it.

Sing Your Heart Out, So She's Leaving, Every Inambition, Den Of Thieves, Paranoid Freak, Tired of Waiting, The Love You Save, Fleeting Trust, One By One, Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me.
Can't Stop Laughing, When You Leave, Travelling Kind, Yearning, Highway of Heroes, Love Is A Real Thing, Man Of Two Minds, (Happy Birthday), Not Ready To Go, Ishmael & Maggie.
[encore] You've Got To Let Me In, Oh La La (Faces cover), Hold Me In Your Arms (w/ When The Levee Breaks).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stars w/ Young Galaxy @ The Vogue -- 11/04/10

Last night was my fifth time seeing Monteral's Stars, and the second time this year. And not only do they put on a fantastic live show, but they always seem to have amazing opening bands. Last couple times were Miracle Fortress and Hey Rosetta!. Definitely band that should, can, and do headline shows of their own. Last night continued that trend.

Opening this time was Young Galaxy, which is interesting as Stephen Ramsay used to be in Stars. When their set started out, the sound mix seemed to be a little off, but after "The Buzz In My Flesh" -- which didn't seem to have the same punch live -- it sounded great. "Outside The City" seemed to get things on track and if the rapidly growing group of people gathering at the stage was any indication, the band won over their fair share of new fans. This was the third time I had seen the band, and the first where they were not hidden by thick plumes of fog. I think this led to better show from the band, as they were not just sihouettes in the smoke -- which, mind you, makes for an awesome visual -- and it let their stage presence shine through more. During the primal sounding "Queen Drum" Catherine McCandless was stalking the from of the stage, and before the beautiful "Firestruck", Stephen joked that he has seen a lot of people making out while Stars was playing during their tour, and he would like it is people did the same for them. It was only sort of awkward, and in the best way. After a new song, they ended the set with "Long Live The Fallen World", which came to an amazing ending of intense guitar and swirling synth, as the band thanked everyone, including the friends and family they had in the crowd, and left. I was looking forward to seeing Young Galaxy almost as much as I was Stars, and rocky start aside, they did not disappoint. I hope they're back again soon for a headlining show of their own.

Destroyer, The Buzz In My Flesh, Outside The City, Lazy Religion, Queen Drum, Firestruck, We Have Everything, Long Live The Fallen World.

Soon after, it was time for Stars to hit the stage, roses and all. They kicked things off with "He Dreams He Is Awake", off the new album The Five Ghosts, then went back to Heart with "Elevator Love Letter". That set the tone for the night, as they played a good mix of songs from the new album as well as their back catalogue. The band was as good as ever, with Torquil being incredibly enthused to be home and humbled by the crowd. They also brought with them one of the most interesting things I've seen in a while: two bubble machines that spewed a great amount of bubbles into the air. It seems like such a simple thing, but I don't think I've seen anyone do that at a show before, at least not on that big a scale. They were a lok more beautiful, and a hell of a lot easier to clean, than confetti. But they didn't just bring the bubbles, they brought their a-game, even with Amy Millan five and a half months pregnant. That didn't stop her from dancing around, and Torquil Campbell was his usual intense, fun to watch, and outspoken self, giving former premier Gordon Campbell a little good bye speech (more like a "get the fuck out" speech) before "The Comeback".
About half way through the set, most of the band left, and Amy and Evan Cranely sitting on a bench for an acoustic version of "Ageless Beauty". The mood stayed like that as Torquil came back out to sing "The Wood" with Amy, accompanied by Cranley and and Chris Seligman on brass. "Take Me To The Riot" had the crowd jumping and yelling along, and they closed out the set with a trio of songs from Set Yourself On Fire.
The encore began with a simple blue light backing Amy as some canned strings accompanied her for Celebration Guns. The band returned for one of my favourites from the new album, "I Died So I Could Haunt You" (which I want played at my funeral). "Soft Revolution", which is always an incredible song live, had Stephen and Catherine some out to dance and play tambourine, and the night was brought to a gentle end with "Changes"

The band always puts on an incredible show, and even thought I have seen them five times now, I would not hesitate to see them five more.

He Dreams He Is Awake, Elevator Love Letter, The Passenger, How Much More, Wasted Daylight, Time Can Never Kill The True Heart, Bitches in Tokyo, Undertow, The Comeback, Ageless Beauty, The Wood, Dead Hearts, Take Me To The Riot, We Don't Want Your Body, Fixed, Set Yourself on Fire, Your Ex-Lover is Dead, One More Night.
[encore] Celebration Guns, I Died So I Could Haunt You, Reunion, Sweetness, Soft Revolution, Changes.