One of my favourite things to come out of last year's Peak Performance Project was the discovery of The Matinée. I've always had a soft sport for roots-rock and alt-country -- which is odd, since I don't really like "actual" country music -- and I was won over by The Matinée two songs into the first time I saw them live. So there was no way I was going to miss their first show of the year, that was apparently also their first headlining show in Vancouver (which seems surprising).
Starting off the night was current Vancouver buzz band Good for Grapes. With over a half dozen members on stage, they had a rich, lush sound that was folky, with a little bit of a maritime edge to it.
Though there wasn't too much banter between songs, but they had a great dynamic and enthusiasm, especially the incredibly animated accordion player.
Their set seemed too short (also because I missed the first little bit of it) and I will definitely be looking out for them again, hopefully soon.
Washboard Union was up next, who, full disclosure, I had seen years ago as Run GMC and didn't really care for, so I had a bit of a bias going in. Their sound could almost be described as "shit-kicker country", with a very down-south and almost bluegrass feel. And true to their name, they had a washboard out for a few songs to accompany the banjo, fiddle and the rest. While it was a little bit too two-stepping-country for my tastes, they definitely were not bad, as they were all good musicians with great energy. And if the crowd stomping along was any indication, I may have been in the minority.
Not long after -- curfewed shows always run like clockwork -- The Matinée took the stage, kicking it off with "L'Absinthe", with the charismatic Matt Layzell giving us the back story mid-song to get the crowd riled up before "Sweetwater", which had everyone stomping and clapping along. They definitely know how to work a crowd, and they had most of the room in the palm of their collective hands from the beginning.
There were a few new songs throughout the set, including a soft one that had everyone gathered around one mic for group vocals, and one called "Scooterfruit" which was the exact opposite; a huge, rocking song that exploded into an amazing ending that sounded like the band was channelling The Who -- especially drummer Pete Lemon. That led into a pretty spot-on cover of The Tragically Hip's "Grace, Too" and they brought it all to a head with "The Road", with the usual insane drum breakdown seeing every member on drums, and ended with Matt Rose putting on a guitar clinic.
But of course, that wasn't the real end and they were back for one more, just for good measure to cap off the night before Venue was turned over to the shiny shirts for the night.
And the final tally at the end of their set was: three bras thrown on stage, and two pairs of comically oversized underpants.