Monday, May 28, 2012

Zeus @ Biltmore -- 05/26/12

The silver lining of the not-going-to-Sasquatch! cloud for those in Vancouver was being able to catch Toronto's Zeus at the Biltmore Cabaret. The former backing band of Jason Collett was touring in support of their latest album, Busting Visions, and having seen them live a few times before, I knew they never fail to deliver and are not a band to be missed.

First up was Vancouver's Wake! Owl, who recently opened for frequent Zeus collaborator Bahamas. That time, they were a three-piece, but they were up to their usual five members, which added a great depth to their big, sweeping folk-pop sound. The set was a mix of new songs, including one called "Innocence" which really stood out, and some off their recent Wild Country EP, "Seaside" being another highlight, with a lot of the songs starting off soft and then build into a grand ending.
There wasn't much talk or banter between songs -- a little bit form the keyboard player -- but they had a good energy and string-breaking intensity while playing. They were definitely impressive, and I'm predicting big things from them in the future.

Not long after, the four members of Zeus took the stage, with Carlin Nicholson proclaiming "I have three drinks in front of me, none of which are water" as they immediate launched into "How Does It Feel?".
With Rob Drake behind the kit, Carlin, Mike O'Brien, and Neil Quin swapped guitar, bass and keys throughout the set, as well as trading off on lead vocals, with everyone joining in on some of the best harmonies around. All four members have amazing talents and stage presence -- especially Carlin, who at one point put more spectacle into a single bass note than I've seen from some musicians in a whole show.
They promised a surprise or two, and delivered when they were joined by a couple local musicians, Colin Cowan on bass and Dan Mangan on keys & harmonizing perfectly on "Fever of the Time". 
Other highlights included "The Renegade", which built to an amazing ending, with each member of the band going nuts. It easily could have been the set closer, but they still had a few more to go;  the do-wop influenced "Love in a Game" that got people moving and the main-set-ending "Are You Gonna Waste My Time?" But of course were back out for a couple more, including the final sing of the night, their amazing cover of Genesis' "That's All"

As they left, they promised they'll come back twice a year until they die, and if they keep their end of the bargain, I will be at every one of those shows.

setlist
How Does It Feel?, Strong Mind, Greater Times on the Wayside, The River By The Garden, Love/Pain, Kindergarten, I Know, With Eyes Closed, Fever or the Time, Hello Tender Love, Marching Through Your Head, The Renegade, Big Brown Opus, Love in a Game, Heavy On Me, Are You Gonna Waste My Time?
(encore) The Darkness, At The Risk of Repeating, That's All [Genesis cover].

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