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.

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