Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Black Mountain @ Waldorf -- 08/25/12

It's been a long time since I last saw Black Mountain (almost exactly a year) so I was more than a little excited to see Vancouver's psych-rockers at the Waldorf's Outdoor Summer Concert. Joined by a returning Ladyhawk, Basketball, Toronto's Quest for Fire -- who will be touring with Black Mountain -- and Von Bingen, they packed the Waldorf parking lot for an evening of rock.
Unfortunately I was off earning some money, so I missed the bulk of the show, arriving mere moments before Black Mountain hit the stage.

Right out of the bat, Steve McBean broke a string on the first song, and the intensity of the show didn't let up from there. Launching into "Tyrants" early on, the eight minute song ebbs and flows from ear shattering, head banging guitars and drums to the powerful beauty of Amber Webber's voice; and mirrored the structure of the set, which flawlessly went between straight ahead rockers like "Old Fangs" and the calmer moments, like McBean grabbing an acoustic guitar for "Buried by the Blues".

Other highlights of the set included "Angels" -- which McBean dedicated to his mother who was wed at the Waldorf years ago -- and the moody "Queens Will Play", that was yet another great example of Webber's strong and haunting voice.

The climax of the set was the explosive "Stormy High" and they ended with "Don't Run Our Hearts Around" from their first, self titled album. But they were, of course, back out for a few more including the driving "Let Spirits Ride" and finishing off with "Roller Coaster"

Maybe it's because they don't play all that often -- they don't over-saturate themselves -- I always forget just how incredible they are live. McBean amazing shredding, his & Webber's voices blending so well together, and Joshua Wells' wailing drumming; they're all factors that make Black Mountain one of Vancouver's best, most intense, and ass-kicking-est, bands to see live.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Then & Now @ Biltmore -- 08/21/12

The brainchild of Vancouver's beekeeper, Then and Now was a simple concept; take ten artists and get them to play a brand new song and an old song-- their current favourite that they're super proud of, and one of the first songs they wrote, that they may be a little embarrassed by.
The night was also a fundraiser for Megaphone, a local magazine that is sold by the homeless or low income people, who get to keep the profits of their sales.

The night started with a couple amazing songs from aboriginal blues artist Murray Porter, followed by Brandi of Sidney York, who took the concept to its extreme playing her very first song and brand newest song -- the latter being a sexy cellphone song (no, seriously). Dominique Fricot followed, with his "then" song being a song he wrote for his high school grad.
Hannah Epperson sang a short song she wrote when she was eight, to sing as a pre-dinner prayer of sorts, before amazing everyone with her incredible violin looping, and the first half of the night was wrapped with with Katie Rox, first singing a song from her old (industrial) band Jakalope before being joined by Brandi and Luke Cyca for her "now" song.

After a brief intermission Colby Sparks kicked off the second half, being a bit of an odd man out, genre-wise but certainly not talent-wise. His old song was him playing saxophone overtop of some beatboxing, while his new was a complex series of samples that had everyone's heads bobbing and shoulders shimmying in their seats. Ma Petite came up next, first rapping(!!) a silly joke rap group she had in high school, and playing one of her first songs, a sappy love song before her newest one.
David Vertesi was up next with his new song being from his latest album, but his old song from his high school band, Touched By An Uncle, called "Sean Connery" which was a love song to the titular actor. And it was as goofy yet amazing it is sounds. Jody Glenham followed him, with her old song being "Coffee Soaked" played on guitar instead of a piano and her new song being written on a bar stool in the back of the very venue she was playing in, the Biltmore.
Finally, wrapping up the night was beekeeper, playing a full electric set. Their "then" was not an embarassing song from Devon's past, but a song from their first album, BE KEPT, and their new one was a brand new tune called "Don't Need Hope, Need Whiskey"

It was a really fun night with a great concept, and while the show never felt like it dragged -- the hosts Devon and Lana Gay did a fantastic job during the quick turnarounds, and many of the musicians had amusing stories to go with their songs -- the show ended up running three hours, with the break. Next time they put on an event like this (and I sincerely hope there is a next time) I hope they pare down the lineup a little, but not by much

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Franz Ferdinand @ Commodore -- 08/08/12

It's been three long years since I last saw Glasgow's Franz Ferdinand live, so I was more than a little excited when they announced a show... but then heartbroken when it sold out before I could get tickets. However, at the last minute, thanks to the power of Twitter -- and Alex Kapranos being an swell guy -- I managed to secure a ticket all was right with the world. 

I got there just as the opener, Carnivores was wrapping up their last song and it was not long after that that the lights dimmed and some grandiose introduction music played for Franz Ferdinand to take the stage. They immediately launched into one of my favourite songs of theirs, "The Dark of the Matinée" from their self-titled debut album, and blew the roof off the Commodore for the next hour and a half.
Right off the bat, Kapranos had the crowd right in his palm, dancing & strutting around the stage, chatting & joking between songs, and getting everyone to clap & sing along with no more than a gesture. He had the sold out crowd singing along several times, most notably when he backed off the mic during "Walk Away", "This Fire" and, of course, everyone yelling "Take Me Out"
Along with the familiar, there were also a few new songs sprinkled throughout the set, including one possibly called "Right Thoughts! Right Words! Right Actions!" which was distinctly Franz with an incredibly danceable guitar lick, and a frantically energetic song named "Trees & Animals"
After they wrapped up the main set with "This Fire", they were back for the obvious encore with another new song, "Scarlet Blue", and wrapped up the night with "Outsiders", which built to the mother of all percussion breakdowns, as the four members crowded around the single drum kit to pound away.

The show reminded me why they’re among my favourite live bands, and while there has been no official announcement (yet), hopefully this string of shows -- and new songs -- indicated their fourth studio album is on the way.

The Dark of the Matinée, No You Girls, Tell Her Tonight, Walk Away, Right Thoughts! Right Words! Right Actions![?], Michael, Do You Want To, Brief Encounters, The Fallen, Can't Stop Feeling, Take Me Out, Ulysses, Trees & Animals[?], This Fire.
(encore) Scarlet Blue[?], Darts of Pleasure, Outsiders.