to the day -- was the first time I saw We Are The City live. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. They quickly became one of my favourite "local" bands (being from Kelowna), and I have probably seen them a dozen times since. Even the brief departure of David Menzel didn't slow them down, but last night was the first Vancouver show with him back. And along with them was a couple other Kelowna transplants -- and Peak Performance Project alumni -- for a killer lineup at the Rio Theatre.
First up was Fields of Green, and right off the bat I noticed their energy, particularly that of drummer, who is almost a human analog of Animal from The Muppets, with wild arms flailing. They had a bit of a synthy, prog rock driven sound and some pretty catchy songs, with a few new ones in the set, as they had just finished recording a new album and part way through the set they switched things up with the keyboardist taking over on guitar for a few songs, and switching up lead vocals for another.
When I saw them earlier this year, I thought they were quite good, and really fun to watch, but a bit green, and I thought they have really improved in just the last couple months. I am definitely looking forward the the upcoming album, and their next show.
Treelines was up next, starting their set off with a bang by high-kicking right in to the rocking "Ghost Towns". As usual they, they had a great energy, especially lead singer Matt Lockhart, but especially his brother and bassist Steve, who never fails to amuse me by singing along to every word of the set, even though he rarely has a microphone in front of him.
Mid-way through the set they brought things down for a moment with the heartbreaking "When I Get Grown", which saw Matt Kelly on slide guitar, and the title track for their new digital EP, Courage, which starts slow but swells to a grand finish. After a couple more they ended the set ended with catchy "Ode to the Prairies", and that awkward moment where someone in the front threw a bra at Steve, who didn't seem too amused by it (keep in mind, it was an all ages show). Treelines always put on a fun, rocking show and this was no exception.
And finally, We Are The City hit the stage to a bit of a haunting intro and kicked off with "Happy New Year", garnering a fair amount of singing along. The set was a mix of new and old, with Menzel nailing the guitar parts from the High School EP and the trio sounding better than ever. When I first saw them, I was amazed by how tight they were, and they have gotten exponentially better since then, with a great stage presence and an incredible energy; especially Andy who is up and down more than any drummer I've seen. They also have some of the best banter, which seems less like "stage banter" and more like three friends chatting with you, which is highlighted in the way Cayne & Andy play off each other and interact.
As for the set itself, highlights included the beautiful "April" and the intense "Astronomers", both from In A Quiet World, a newer, unreleased song called "The Birds" which ebbs and flows, and "Mourning Song" off their most recent 7", with an amazing outro/transition between that and "Dark/Warm Air", which saw Andy on vocals and has a bass line that thumps right to your core.
Early in the set I was ever so slightly disappointed that they did not play the entire High School EP in order, with the Amazing Factory video playing on the big screen behind them, but that disappointment was sated when they launched into "Dark/Warm Air" and the video came on screen. That was the "last" song, but they were back out for "Angel in White", with the video projected for that song as well.
My only squabble was that there was a slight buzzing for the entirety of We Are The City's set, and while it wasn't always noticeable, there were a few times during the softer parts of the song where it was; but aside from that, it was an incredible set, and an incredible night of three great bands.