Tuesday, December 31, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Eighteen: Hangover Songs

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like favourite songs of the year. Or some might be a little more... esoteric. Top Six Songs With The Number Six In The Title.

This week I bring you something rather timely, something you might need tomorrow after your New Year's Even festivities tonight. It's the Top Six Songs To Listen To Whilst Hungover.

Featuring the calming tones of:

"A Stone Would Cry Out" by Sam Roberts
"Doctor Blind" by Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton
"The Deserters" by Rachel Zeffira
"Carry On" by The Mountains & The Trees
"It's All Your Fault" by Elisapie
"Love The House You're In" by Moonface

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Said the Whale @ Commodore -- 12/28/13

You can't accuse Said the Whale of not being one of the hardest working bands in Canada. They released their latest album, hawaiii, about a year and a half after the previous Little Mountain, and they have been almost constantly touring; criss-crossing Canada, down into the States, and even overseas.
But to wrap up their 2013, they have come back to Vancouver for a pair of hometown shows; an afternoon all ages show, and an evening 19+ (which I caught).

With them, they had a band that highly influenced them, By Divine Right to open the show. While I had seen the band once before, I mostly knew them more based on their legacy and reputation than their music, and the Toronto three piece definitely lived up to that.
The band lineup has rotated a lot throughout their twenty-plus years -- including musicians like Brendan Canning, Leslie Feist, and Brian Borcherdt -- and joining frontman José Miguel Contreras in their current lineup was drummer Geordie Dynes, and Alysha Haugen on bass.
Highlights from their set included the simple yet catchy "The Slap" and "Past The Stars", the first song from new album, Organized Accidents, introduced as about space aliens. Contreras swapped to an acoustic guitar for "Mutant Message", and got the crowd really going with their biggest hit, "Five Bucks". After jokingly ringing in the new year early, they ended with "Stella Ocean Heart"
They put on a strong set, and it's easy to see why they have had such longevity.

Soon enough, the lights dimmed and LCD Soundsystem's Home (appropriately enough) blasted throughout the venue as Said the Whale took the stage. The song ended and they launched into "More Than This", the soft song was a little anticlimactic after that introduction, but then quickly exploded into "Mother" promising "maybe I should fuck something up good".

They kept up the energy for the first few songs, hitting "Camillo (The Magician)" early on, the crowd singing along, not for the last time. Judging by the volume the crowd hit joining in on songs like the beautiful "Curse the Currents" (Ben goading the crowd to sing louder and louder) and "Emerald Lake, AB" and the way the dancefloor was bouncing, the audience was almost as excited to be there as the band was; more than once, the members of the band proclaimed their love and gratitude towards the fans, with big grins on their faces, visibly stoked to be headlining the Commodore.

Highlights from the set included my favourite new track off of hawaiii, "Resolution" which ended with an incredibly energetic Shad joining the band on stage to perform his portion of the song, and one of my favourite Said the Whale tracks overall, "My Government Heart", the stage bathed in red lights as Tyler vitriolically spat out the lyrics.
They also pulled out a deep-cut cover, Father John Misty's "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings", and Tyler got very emotional when he went into "Helpless Son", a song written for his mother, a cancer survivor, who was in the crowd and hearing the song performed live for the first time.

"I Love You" wrapped up the main set with a huge energy, but of course they were back for the obligatory encore; a few more songs before wrapping up with the perfect set-ender, "Goodnight Moon", capping off with Tyler rocking out on the ukulele as hard as someone can rock out on a ukulele.

I've seen Said the Whale more than a few times in the past few years, and I would say this was the best I have seen them play live. They were incredibly tight, firing on all cylinders, Ben & Tyler's voices working in perfect harmony, and even Jacelyn joining in on more backup vocal duties than before.
It made me really excited to see what they come up with next.

More Than This; Mother; Camillo (The Magician); Narrows; The Light Is You; My Government Heart; Big Sky, MT; Safe To Say; Resolutions; Seasons; I Could Smoke; Oh K, Okay; Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings [Father John Misty cover]; Helpless Son; The Gift of a Black Heart; Loveless; Curse the Currents; Willow; On The Ropes; I Love You.
(encore) The Weight of the Season; Emerald Lake, AB; Goodnight Moon. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Seventeen: Christmas Songs

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like favourite songs of the year. Or some might be a little more... esoteric. Top Six Songs With The Number Six In The Title.

It's about that time of the year where music everywhere is infiltrated with Christmas carols and songs. And there's not much you can do if, like me, you don't really care for Christmas Music. Which is why I bring you this week's Top Six Christmas Songs for People That Hate Christmas Songs.

Featuring the musical stylings of:

"Puddleglum" by Said the Whale
"Snow" by The Zolas
"A Cup of Kindness Yet" by Hey Rosetta!
"Get Behind Me, Santa!" by Sufjan Stevens
"Fairytale in New York" by The Pogues
"The Night Santa Went Crazy" by Weird Al Yankovic

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Sixteen: Crush Mixtape

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like best supergroups. Or some might be a little more... esoteric. Top Six Bands Named After Places That They're Not From.

And this week, we reminisce about putting together a selection of songs for someone you might just fancy.The Top Six Song To Put on a Mixtape for Someone You have a Crush On. Using music to woo someone is as old as music itself, and maybe you remember putting on some songs and just hoping that the person listening gets the deeper meaning?

This week the tunage is provided by:

"Faster for You" by Two Hours Traffic
"On Top Of Your Love" by Royal Wood
"Skinny Boy" by Amy Millan
"New Slang" by The Shins
"Hands Down" by Dashboard Confessional
"Springtime" by Wintermitts

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Basia Bulat w/ Evening Hymns @ Rio Theatre -- 12/05/13

Aside from an all-too short solo set opening for Nick Cave earlier this year, it had been over three years since the last time I saw Basia Bulat perform live. But she was back at a packed Rio Theatre to support her latest album, Tall Tall Shadow with her band. Plus, she was touring with longtime friend Evening Hymns -- who had already put on one of my favourite shows of the year, a couple months prior -- so I was more than a little excited for the show.

The night started with Evening Hymns, which is to say, Jonas Bonnetta taking the stage alone. After starting off with "Spirit In The Sky", which teased a bit of looping, he explained the concept of his latest album Spectral Dusk, written about his father's passing after years of illness and the deeply personal & heartfelt songs that were born. He told a couple stories about his father and brother, but also had some levity to his banter, joking around.

Half way through the set, Basia Bulat joined him on stage for a duet for an older song "Dead Deer", their voices blending perfectly together, and he fully exploited his looping pedal as he ran around building "Mtn. Song", his self professed dance number.
Jonas ended the set with the title track "Spectral Dusk", a heart wrenching song that surely caused more than a few teary eyes in the silent theatre. Not only was it his last song of the set, and his last live show of the year, but the last song for the Spectral Dusk "album cycle", and seemed noticeably cathartic for him as he ended that chapter.

Spirit In The Sky; Arrows; You and Jake; Dead Deer; Mtn. Song; Spectral Dusk.

It wasn't long after before Basia Bulat took the stage. Joined by bassist Ben Whitely and percussionist Ian MacKay, they started with "The City With No Rivers", and Bulat playing a charango; the first of several instruments she would cycle through over the course of the set. From the charango to the pianoette, the more conventional acoustic guitar to the keyboard, and of course the autoharp, she transitioned effortlessly from instrument to instrument. And her small stature -- which she joked about a few times -- gave way to a huge voice and presence. It was hard not to be entranced as her voice soared during songs like "Five, Four" and "Heart Of My Own".

There were a couple technical difficulties in the set, but nothing that took away from it; even when having keyboard or mic stand troubles, Basia was unfazed, joking and charming the crowd before getting it right rather than slipping into an awkward silence. Other highlights of the set included the soft and gorgeous "Paris or Amsterdam", the building intensity of "Gold Rush", and the incredibly catchy "Tall Tall Shadow", which saw Bonnetta coming out to join on backup vocals and staying for the final song of the set, "Never Let Me Go"

Basia came back out, visibly overwhelmed by the crowd's reaction, and went for a more loose and seemingly unplanned encore taking suggestions from the audience. "In The Night" again showed off her world class autoharp playing, and she did a beautiful cover of Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You In The End", before she bookended the set by again bringing out the charango and finishing with her voice once again soaring for "It Can't Be You".

Basia Bulat is a fantastic musician and performer, and she had the entire theatre captivated throughout the show. I just hope it's not another three years before she's back.

The City With No Rivers; Promise Not To Think About Love; Gold Rush; Heart Of My Own; Run; I Was A Daughter; Five, Four; Paris or Amsterdam; Little Waltz; The Shore; If It Rains; Wires; Someone; Tall Tall Shadow; Never Let Me Go. 
(encore) Before I Knew; In The Night; True Love Will Find You In The End [Daniel Johnston cover]; It Can't Be You.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Fifteen: Trios

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like Top Six Holiday Songsor they can be as strange and specific as Top Six Bands With Classically Trained Opera Singers.

This week is all about three pieces. Triumvirates. The Top Six Trios. Bands with three members have long been a mainstay in music, and this week we celebrate that with musical accompaniment from:

"Extraordinary" by Joel Plaskett Emergency
"Stamp" by The Rural Alberta Advantage
"Oh Hi!" by beekeeper
"Whatchewdid" by Grady
"Will They Bury Us?" by Elliott BROOD
"Scumbag Blues" by Them Crooked Vultures

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Brendan Canning @ Media Club -- 11/29/13

No one can ever accuse Brendan Canning of not being a hard working, busy man. The Broken Social Scene co-founderhas his name to about a half dozen bands, and now that Broken Social Scene is on a hiatus, he has been busy with his new solo album, his second counting Something For All Of Us, under the "Broken Social Scene Presents" line.
But in contrast to Broken Social Scene's bombastic, grandiose sound, his new album You Gots 2 Chill takes a tone fitting exactly with its name; it is laid back and mellow.

I got to the Media Club just as Dinosaur Bones took the stage. With a dark indie rock sound, the band had a great presence on stage. A few times they got the crowd clapping along, and had an effortless energy.
They were supporting their newest album Shaky Dream, and with songs like the moody "Career Criminal" being one of the highlights of the set, and I am definitely going to have to pick up their album.

It wasn't long after that that Brendan Canning was up. Joined by Hark on backup vocals (who opened the show and I unfortunately missed), Canning and his band played in front of a projection screen showing stock footage and old videos (including the old science film Powers of Ten)
After an instrumental intro, he launched into "Plugged In", the first single off the new album, setting the tone for the set with it's very laid back mood. Throughout the set, Canning was occasionally joined by members of Dinosaur Bones, and part way through the set invited a friend up on stage, Torquil Campbell of Stars. Campbell joined backup vocals for "Late Night Stars" -- appropriately enough -- and then a pretty amazing cover of Drake's "Hold On We're Going Home"
The band also took the time to stretch their musical legs, as a few songs ended with extended jams; Canning even mentioned after the swirling ending of "However Long" that they did some on-the-fly improvising. The set ended with the soft and beautiful "Last Song for the Summer Hideaway" and while the rest of the band left, Canning stayed to perform one more song, a solo acoustic instrumental.

It was a great show that was marred a little bit by a shitty crowd. The Media Club has always been bad for noise and conversation, and combine that with a Friday night and Canning's chill set, and the din got to be a bit much at times. But Canning managed to get the crowd to shut up for at least one song, the quietest of the set, and the noise seemed to die off after that. Noise aside, Canning is a hell of a performer, and I would love to see these songs in a more fitting venue.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Matthew Good @ Orpheum -- 11/28/13

I've said it before (more than once) but one of my favourite artists, for many years now, is Matthew Good. And I have been able to see him live at least once a year for the last six years or so; from huge, outdoor events to intimate acoustic shows.
Promoting his newest release, Arrows of Desire -- which is raw, rocking album recorded live-off-the-floor -- Matthew Good finished off the tour with a hometown show, at the beautiful Orpheum Theatre.

Opening the show was Gentleman Husbands. it was the first time in Vancouver for the Ontario four piece, and their rootsy-rock type stuff that wasn't quite good enough to like, but neither bad enough to be snarky about.
They had some catchy songs, but a lot of them ended up bleeding together and sounding alike, even the partial cover of The Wallflowers' "Difference" that the slipped into a song. For an opening band, it was Perfectly Acceptable Music and they had an obvious passion for what they were doing.

Soon after, at 9:30 sharp, Matthew Good took the stage. His band coming out first and launching into the opening notes of "Garden of Knives" from the new album before Good came on and stepped up to the mic. The nearly two-hour set focused on the new album, but reached back through his long career, hitting songs from his solo and Matthew Good Band days.

Older hits like "Everything is Automatic" and "Load Me Up" got the entire theatre on their feet and singing & clapping along, as Good poured all his energy into the set. His voice going from rough & gritty, to soft, to soaring -- sometimes within the same song -- and was always full of passion and emotion.

Good eschewed his usual dry and humourous banter, due to the show being curfewed and wanting to play as much music as possible, but did joke around a few times between songs, including spontaneously launching in to a cover of "Walk Hard" from the John C. Reilly movie of the same name.

Other highlights included the beautiful "While We Were Hunting Rabbits" from Avalanche, which was transformed from a symphonic, strings-filled number to an almost alt-country number that soared; the vicious & frantic "Via Dolorosa" finished with a huge swirling of guitars & pounding of drums; and "Shallow's Low", which starting dark and moody before exploding into a chaotic climax.

It's also worth noting the lighting, which is rarely gets its own spotlight; little touches really added to the experience, like when various members had solos, they were illuminated as the rest of the stage dark; and in one of the neatest stage lighting things I've seen in a while, the lights rapidly illuminated each individual drum as it was struck during one of the drummer's solos.

The main set wrapped up with the haunting "Letters in Wartime" the final track on the new album, before the obligatory encore. The band returning to stage with the familiar cheer piping through the theatre, and launching into "Giant", followed by another pair of huge singalongs, "Hello, Time Bomb" and "Apparitions".
They finally ended the night, and the tour, with the epic "Champions of Nothing", as Good thanked his band, his crew, and especially everyone for showing up.

Garden of Knives, Last Parade, Load Me Up, Arrows of Desire, Non Populus, Born Losers, So Close, Everything is Automatic, Shallow's Low, While We Were Hunting Rabbits, Walk Hard [Dewey Cox cover], Had It Coming, We're Long Gone, Weapon, Alert Status Red, Via Dolorosa, Letters in Wartime.
(encore) Giant, Hello Time Bomb, Apparitions, Champions of Nothing. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Fourteen: Famous People

Hey look, it's another episode of 3am Revelations' very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like Top Six Drinking Songsor they can be as obscure and specific as Top Six Songs to Help Nurse a Hangover.

This week we take a look at songs written about people. Songs written about particular people. Songs written about, for, or in relation to specific people. The Top Six Songs Named for Famous People!
Whether they're about the person, written with them as a backdrop, or not about them at all, these are all songs named after people you might have heard of.

Featured on this week's podcast is:

"The National" by Hannah Georgas
"Meg White" by Ray Lamontagne
"Harrison Ford" by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
"John Lennon" by Arkells
"Daft Punk is Playing at My House" by LCD Soundsystem
"What Would Jay-Z Do?" by Ben Lee

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Peak Performance Project Finale @ Commodore -- 11/21/13

It was a night that would change the lives of three bands. It was, of course, the Peak Performance Project finale concert, with over $227,000 in money being awarded; $102,700 for first place, $75,000 for second and $50,000 for third. The three bands vying for the prize were Hannah Epperson, Rykka, and BESTiE, picked as the top three from the twenty bands competing in this fifth year of the promotion. All twenty bands took part in a week long rock & roll bootcamp, and were judged on their showcase at Fortune, a business report, online voting, and a few other challenges and projects.
Everything had been tallied up and the placement determined long before the show, but the finale was a chance for the top three to show off at one of the best and most revered venues in town, the Commodore Ballroom.

This year was probably my favourite top three since the very first year, with both Epperson and Rykka being my top two picks from the very start. While other years I have been somewhat... disappointed in the top three or the winners, this year I was looking forward to the whole show.

The night started with Hannah Epperson, taking the stage alone with her violin, barefoot, and hardly able to contain the smile on her face. She launched into a couple instrumental songs showing off her incredible talent and making great use of the looping pedal.
She added her soft vocals, fitting the beautiful "Murder of Crows" perfectly, and after a few songs was joined by the drum pad, adding a sexy bassy dancey vibe to "Shadowless". Near the end of the set, she dedicated a song to her brother who could not be there, and asked everybody to hug the person next to them, getting a video of the hugging crowd.
The set came to an end with the apocalyptic "Host a Party" before she invited the boys in Oh No! Yoko to come out and perform their bootcamp collaboration, "Soft Shoulder".
I admit, even though she was my favourite, I never thought a solo violin looper would make the top three of the Peak Performance Project; but Hannah's incredible talent broke that barrier, and that was one instance where I was thrilled to be proven wrong.

Up next was Rykka, coming out in an outfit that can only be described as The Road Warrior meets Cher (in the best way) very fitting of her dark, synthy electro-rock sound. The band exploded out of the gate with the first song, "Map Inside", and from the first song, Rykka hardly stood still on stage. She danced and bobbed back and forth, exuding energy.
Playing mostly from her recent album, Kodiak -- in which all of the songs are written from the perspective of various animals -- Rykka also threw in a couple new songs. Part way through the set she was joined by friend and producer of her record, Ryan Guldemond to play guitar for a couple songs, including the driving and intense "Down in the Depths".
She brought the tone down for a moment, with the softer "Grassland" before getting it right back up for "Shotgun", and ended with the aptly titled "Electric", getting Ryan back out once more, and the sold out crowd clapping along.

And finally, BESTiE took the stage to round out the night, and end off the fifth year of the project. Admittedly, they were not among my initial choices for the top three, and while there isn't a lot of variation in their songs, they put on a really fun live show. With beach balls (and later an inflatable palm tree) thrown into the audience, songs like the upbeat "Pineapple" got the crowd grooving to their fun tropical pop-rock, the band's energy infectious.
They brought a horn section out for a few songs, including the classic Canadian cover they learned for the project, a pretty solid version of The Payola$' "Eyes of a Stranger", and invited Rykka back out on stage to play their Bootcamp collaboration, "Together", before ending off the night by upping the energy even more with "Sriracha", joined by hula dancers on stage.

Fun way to end the show, but of course the night was not done; there was still the unveiling of the top three and the awarding of the giant novelty cheques. Third place went to BESTiE, second place to Hannah Epperson, and the winner of $102,700 to put towards her career, was Rykka. An outcome that I was very satisfied with.

Major kudos is deserved to both The Peak and Music BC and all the people involved in this incredible yearly contest, especially for their support and nurturing of local music. I hope the bands involved go on to keep doing what they're doing, and I hope The Peak continues to support them, even (or especially) the ones that didn't make the top five.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Phildel @ CBC Vancouver Studio 700 -- 11/18/13

One of my favourite musical discoveries this year came from the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. On the last day, I went to see a workshop with Justin Rutledge, Del Barber, Cold Specks, and a singer from the UK that I had never heard of, Phildel. Her handful of stripped down songs impressed me so much that I immediately picked up her album, The Disappearance Of The Girl, and it has been in heavy rotation ever since.
I was sad to have missed her actual performances that weekend, so when the Folk Fest announced they would be presenting a show in Studio 700 at CBC Vancouver with her headlining, I knew I couldn't miss it.

As an added bonus, opening up the show was Vancouver's own Jasper Sloan Yip. Joined only by Alex Hauka on cello and Stephanie Chatman on violin (and sometimes vocals), Jasper played more of a stripped down, acoustic set for the attentive crowd.
From "Athens", which was about a particularly bad day in Greece (and was also, as he introduced it, played as part of a "sad song competition") to the more upbeat and catchy "Show Your Teeth", Jasper wove through a series of ups and downs, with songs mostly about love and/or heartbreak.
He wrapped up the set with the title track to his newest album, Foxtrot, a beautiful duet with Chatman, her soft voice blending nicely with his.

Her band -- drums, bass, and synth -- took the stage and started the opening notes of the title track to her album, "The Disappearance of the Girl" before Phildel emerged from the back. The dark, ethereal pop was punctuated by Phildel's amazing, hauntingly beautiful voice, dipped in just the right amount of reverb, and the music all clearly came from deeply personal places. She gave backstory to many of her songs; the sinister song "The Wolf" was written in response to her extremely religious step-father who banned music when she was a child; "Holes In Your Coffin" is something of a revenge song after a betrayal; and the emotionally devastating "Funeral Bell" -- which I am sure caused more than a few teary eyes -- was written during a nervous breakdown.
She also had a very engaging stage presence, the intensity of her performance contrasting with her almost soft-spoken nature while telling stories between songs.
After her last song, "The Glass Ghost", the title track to her upcoming EP, the crowd gave a much warranted standing ovation. She was clearly moved by the response, and sat down at the keys for one last song, the beautiful "Comfort Me".

It was a perfect setting as well, a nice intimate studio with a very captivate and quiet crowd. The show marked the end of her current North American tour, but I am already hoping that the singer manages to make her way back here sooner rather than later.

The Disappearance of the Girl, Storm Song, Mistakes, Union Stone, Afraid of the Dark, Beside You, Celestial, The Wolf, Holes In Your Coffin, Moonsea, Funeral Bell, The Glass Ghost.
(encore) Comfort Me.

3am Mixtapes: Episode Thirteen: Musical Couples

Hey look, it's another episode of 3am Revelations' very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like Top Six Dancey Songsor they can be as obscure and specific as Top Six Songs to Play at My Funeral.

This week we take a look at the age old tradition of musical couples. Those bands featuring married musicians who make sweet music together, in the Top Six Musical Couples!

Featured on this week's podcast is:

"Devil’s Got A Gun" by Whitehorse
"Beach Dream" by Jets Overhead
"#6" by AroarA
"Pretty Boy" by Young Galaxy
"I Heard I Had" by Dear Rouge
"22: The Death of All the Romance" by The Dears

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Paper Lions & Jordan Klassen @ Media Club -- 11/16/13

It seemed like the universe was against Paper Lions playing Saturday night at the Media Club. Three quarters of the PEI band had to make the drive from Edmonton to Vancouver the day of the show -- lead singer John McPhee had arrived early by plane -- and while they left Alberta with plenty of time, blizzard conditions, traffic accidents, highway reroutes, and Vancouver's infamous year-round 24/7 road construction caused them more than a little grief getting to their headlining set at the sold out Media Club.

In fact, their co-headliner, Jordan Klassen almost ran into the same problems, only arriving at the venue when the opening act was supposed to go on. A quick line check delayed the show by a little while, before Emilie Mover took the stage alone for her opening set. She had kind of a jazzy vibe, and her set included a couple covers, including a Townes Van Zandt song, and one in French which was probably the best song of the set. I feel she would have been a lot better with a full band behind her, but with just her, it wasn't necessarily bad, just not very memorable.

After a little bit of stalling, and some more quick sound checking, Jordan Klassen was up next with his newly slimmed down band. Now a four piece, the band consists of old members Jocelyn Price on keys & backup vocals and Simon Bridgefoot on drums, as well as newcomer Mike Noble. They managed to capture most of the same scope of the larger band, and had just as much energy. Especially Jordan, who is always bounding around the stage while switching from guitar to banjo to ukulele.
With a set featuring songs off his recently released Repentance album, Klassen started with "Call and Answer", starting quiet and growing to a rambunctious ending. His rich folk-pop ran from the big and intense "The Scribe of Doorposts" to the much quieter  "Goodhart's Law" which almost got the Media Club silent (no easy task).
He wrapped up the set with the whistley "Go To Me", another song that builds to a big ending, and the more mellow "You Are The Branches"

Call and Answer, Anatomical Literacy, Ranchero, Balcony, Strengthen Me With Raisins, The Horses Are Stuck, The Scribe of Doorposts, Piano Brother, Goodhart's Law, Sweet Chariot, Go To Me, You Are The Branches.

At this point in the night, the remaining Paper Lions were still a little over a hundred kilometres away, but since John was there and ready to go, he took the stage for a short solo acoustic set. Explaining the situation, he started with a song about their previous tour van's unfortunate run-in with a moose, and played a really strong set. Keeping it loose, John told stories between songs, and getting everyone to sing along to his acoustic jams, including a nice cover of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill".

Had worse come to worst, that would have been a pretty good show, but not long after John finished, the rest of the band showed up from their 16 hour drive, and immediately set up & started their set -- hitting the stage at 12:30, two hours after their scheduled time.

The stunning harmonies of "Philadelphia" kicked off the set as they channelled all their pent up energy and frustration into high energy rockers like "Don't Touch That Dial" and "Sweat it Out", the chorus proclaiming "I'll sweat it out from 9 to 5, to sweat it out on Friday night". The set spanned from new and old, from the ridiculously catchy "Pull me In" off of the new album My Friends, to the explosive "Strawberry Man" that goes all the way back to when they were known as the Chucky Danger Band.
They got everyone singing once more for "Little Liar" and "Lost The War", and wrapped up the set with "My Friend", John jumping into the crowd to tell individual members of the remaining audience "I know you are my friend".
Despite that it was almost 1:30 when they wrapped up, the crowd still clamoured for more, and they obliged with one last song, "Sandcastles" for an energetic and emotional ending to a long day.

The potential for disaster was all there, and I would not have blamed the band at all if they had just decided on a shorter set. But the fact that immediately after driving for 16 hours, they put on a top notch set was incredibly impressive.

John solo: The Night That We Survived, Polly Hill, Solsbury Hill [Peter Gabriel cover], Ghostwriters, Trouble, I'm On Fire, Travelling. 

Band: Philadelphia, Don't Touch That Dial, Sweat It Out, Pull Me In, The Sheriff, Bodies in the Winter, Little Liar, Strawberry Man, Stay Here For A While, Travelling, Lost The War, My Friend.
(encore) Sandcastles. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Aidan Knight & Justin Rutledge @ Rio Theatre -- 11/15/13

It's been a little over a year since Aidan Knight's Small Reveal was released, and he's been touring almost non-stop in support of it. But the Victoria singer/songwriter is finally coming home for a rest, and the penultimate stop on the tour was a venue he was familiar with, Vancouver's Rio Theatre.

With him was Justin Rutledge, who was on stage armed only with his guitar. Luckily, it was a "listening crowd", as he put it, and Rutledge's strong voice & songwriting had the crowd hushed. Taking the opportunity to play some slower and quieter songs, the soft spoken singer/songwriter also joked around with the crowd between sets (I, for one, would go see a movie called "Twentysomething Santa").
Highlights from the set included "Out of the Woods", from his new album Valleyheart, and "Be A Man", which even acoustically built to a strong and passionate ending.
Sadly, he did not play his big, rousing sing along song "Jellybean", but it was still a strong set, and no doubt the Toronto troubadour won over more than a few fans.

Then at 9:15 sharp, Aidan Knight took the stage with his Friendly Friends. "You Will See The Good In Everyone" started off the set, beginning soft and building to a huge climax, a trait shared by a few of Aidan's songs. A few of the older songs had variations on then, different arrangements or slight adjustments; nothing to make the songs unrecognizable, but just a natural progression, and punching them up a little.
Part way through the set the band took a break for Aidan Knight Story Time; in true Aidan fashion a bit of a rambling, but entertaining tale of their current tour, and flipping their van, to past tours and Dan Mangan and car sickness. 
He then followed the story with the utterly devastating and heartbreaking "Margaret Downe", before the band came back for a few more including the lesser known "Lambics", building to an intense ending, and "Knitting Something Nice", which ended the set with a cacophony of swirling guitars and crashing drums.
They came back out shortly after for a couple more, including "Skip" from the new album, which Aidan mentioned had never been played in Vancouver before, and of course wrapping up with the big group sing along to "Jasper".

Aidan & his Friendly Friends always put on a great show, and a lot of the songs in the set sounded bigger, more grandiose; as if Knight was stretching his sonic wings more and more. If that was the case, then I am very interested to see what comes next.

You Will See The Good In Everyone, A Mirror, Land's End, Singer/Songwriter, Margaret Downe, Dream Team, Lambics, Altar Boys, Knitting Something Nice.
(encore) Skip, Jasper.

The Zolas & Hollerado @ Commodore -- 11/14/13

Despite The Zolas' steady rise to power in Vancouver, they had never played one of its most iconic venues, the Commodore Ballroom. Not even in an opening slot or anything. Well, not only did they pop their Commodore cherry, but they did it in one of the best ways possible; in front of a sold out crowd with the pride of Manotick, Ontario, Hollerado.

I got to the venue with just a few songs left from PUP. It was the first time in Vancovuer for the Toronto band, and if the lead singer's joking was any indication -- "I've never seen a girl at our show before" -- it was the biggest crowd they had played to. The four-piece has been gaining lots of buzz recently for their debut self-titled album, and their live show proved it was all worthy. They were very tight for such a young band, and while their indie punk rock may have been a little too on the punk side for my taste, I couldn't deny how good they were. They wrapped up their set with their current single, "Reservoir", and I would not be surprised to see them back at the Commodore to headline in a few years.

As the lights dimmed and A Tribe Called Red's "Electric Powwow" blasted over the speakers, the four members Hollerado took the stage, launching in to "Don't Think" from their most recent album White Paint. And while that album didn't quite grab me in the same way that Record In A Bag did, I was still excited to see them. With their insanely catchy power pop Hollerado is a ridiculously fun live band, not only with their incredible energy, but with a great stage show too, with blasts of confetti leaving streamers dangling from the ceiling, faux snow machines, and black lights illuminating not only the banner behind them but their instruments and equipment as well.
The set started with the mix a little off, the vocals seemed a bit buried, but evened out a few songs into it and everything really seemed to click. The four-piece is incredibly tight, and Menno Versteeg is a great frontman, but on more than one occasion drummer Jake Boyd stole the show. Standing on top of his drum kit for the anthemic "Got To Lose", and especially his insanely intense drum solo during the set-closing "Do The Doot Da Doot Do". Other highlights included the powerful sing yell-along "Juliette" and "So It Goes", a true story about Menno's Dutch grandfather, Nazis, and forgiveness.
It was a super fun set, and I hope it's not another two years before the next chance I get to see them live.

Don't Think, Pick Me Up, Good Day At The Races, Too Much To Handle, Fresno Chunk (Digging With You), Juliette, Fake Drugs, Desire 126, So It Goes, Got To Lose, Americanarama, Thank You (For Sticking Around), Do The Doot Da Doot Do.

In contrast to Hollerado's big, bright show, The Zolas hit the stage bathed in shadows and deep blue lights, for their occasionally darker and moodier alt-pop. They opened with the first track off of Ancient Mars, "In Heaven", and their brand new single, the incredibly dancey "Invisible".
While most of the set focused on the new album, there were a few older songs slipped into the set as well, the chaotic breakup song "Marlaina Kamikaze" and the post-apocalyptic "The Great Collapse".
Other highlights included the quirky "Observatory" and the catchy "Strange Girl" (which Zach gleefully praised the hometown crowd for picking up on the irregular clapping beat).
Zach's obvious enthusiasm and gratitude was evident throughout the night; first requesting everyone in the crowd kiss each other to change the mood after a small scuffle broke out near the stage, and later admitting that the band didn't always get lucky or catch many breaks, but rather "our only luck is you guys". And Zach embraced that love when he went into the middle of the crowd with his keyboard for the final song of the main set, "Escape Artist".
But of course, they were back out for a couple more; first Zach starting alone with "Cold Moon" as the band slowly joined him, and ending with the entire room singing along to "You're Too Cool".

In Heaven, Invisible, Observatory, Euphrates and Tigris, Ancient Mars, The Great Collapse, Marlaina Kamikaze, Local Swan, Cultured Man, Strange Girl, Knot In My Heart, Escape Artist.
(encore) Cold Moon, You're Too Cool. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Matt Mays @ Imperial -- 11/12/13

Relentlessly touring his latest album, 2012's Coyote, Matt Mays wrapped up his solo acoustic tour at a fairly new Vancouver venue, the Imperial. The last time he was here, Mays sold out the Commodore, so seeing him in a room with less than half the capacity was certainly a treat.

Starting the night was Adam Baldwin, a longtime friend and bandmate of Mays. Baldwin played a short set of about half a dozen songs from his newly recorded EP. It was pretty standard singer/songwriter fare, but Baldwin is a great musician, and his funny and charming banter between his heartfelt songs helped sell it.

Soon after that, Matt Mays slowly took the stage, aided by a pair of crutches, with his only explanation a bit later in the show with a succinct "hot tub party".
Taking a seat, he pulled out his acoustic guitar and harmonica and launched into "Plan" from the self titled Matt Mays & El Torpedo album. He played the first couple of songs alone, the heartbreaking "Loveless" and "Season to Leave" from his old band The Guthries, flubbing a bit of the lyrics on the latter. Any other show it would have been detrimental, but the very loose and laid back atmosphere of the show was forgiving. He jokingly blamed his codeine and T3s, and as the set went on, it just got more and more relaxed. Mays joked with both the crowd and with Adam Baldwin, who came out to join him for the rest of the set. The two needled each other like only old friends could, making the show feel less like a sold out venue, and more like a friend's living room.
Baldwin backed up Mays, going between guitar for songs like a nice rendition of the usually dark "The Past" and keys, for the more upbeat "Digital Eyes". Other highlights included "Queen of Portland Street" and the final song of the main set, "Terminal Romance"; usually an intense and passionate song, the acoustic version really emphasised the heartache of the lyrics.
But after a standing ovation, Mays hobbled back on stage for a few more; starting with a very moving performance of "Chase the Light", essentially dedicated to Jay Smith, that ended in a beautiful sing along.  He brought Baldwin back on stage so he could take over vocals on a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm Going Down", and they wrapped up the night with a quintessential campfire song, "On The Hood".

Mays has long been one of my favourite performers; his full band shows are raw and emotional and intense, and while the acoustic show was a lot more toned down, it was much more intimate, and no less emotional.

The Plan, Loveless, Season to Leave [The Guthries], The Past, Indio, Take It On Faith, [unknown song], Digital Eyes, Spoonful of Sugar, Tall Trees, Queen of Portland Street, City of Lakes, Terminal Romance.
(encore) Chase the Light, I'm Going Down [Bruce Springsteen cover], On The Hood.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Twelve: Autumn Blanket Forts

Hey look, it's another episode of 3am Revelations' very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like Top Six Song Titlesor they can be as obscure and specific as Top Six Violin Loopers.

As autumn descends upon us, and things get a little chiller, sometimes you want nothing more than to stay at home, pour yourself a nice glass of tea, or wine, or whiskey, and curl up in the blanket fort that you just made. Yes, this week is the Top Six Songs To Make A Blanket Fort To!

Featured on this week's podcast is:

"Steal Away" by Jill Barber
"Something In You" by Steph Macpherson
"One Evening" by Feist
"Off The Main Drag" by Leif Vollebekk
"twentysomething" by Jamie Cullum
"Last Song For The Summer Hideaway" by Brendan Canning

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Belle Game & Bear Mountain @ Vogue -- 11/09/13

It was a homecoming celebration as a couple of Vancouver bands wrapped up their tour by co-headlining a sold out Vogue Theatre. Both Bear Mountain and The Belle Game have been picking up momentum as of late; Bear Mountain getting some choice touring partners and festival gigs, and The Belle Game just finishing a residency at the the Banff Centre for the Arts, where they got to spend time with Broken Social Scenesters Kevin Drew & Charles Spearing.
While they may seem like an odd pairing to tour together, their different styles and genres managed to compliment each other, rather than clash.

I got to the Vogue in time to catch the last couple songs from Dralms. The band is the new/renamed project of Christopher Smith, with all of the same band members. While the songs were still dark and moody, they were quite a bit heavier and more reliant on distortion than when he was performing under his own name.

Second up was The Darcys from Toronto, who I had been wanting to see live for a while now. Their moody, dense rock, combined with the tight performance drew me in right away.
Their all-too-short set included some from the new album, the driving "Pretty Girls", the twitchiness of the appropriately titled "Itchy Blood", and the rocking "747s" which showed off lead singer Jason Couse's strong, soaring voice.
A very impressive set, and I am looking forward to the next time they come through town.

Then it was time for the dance floor to fill up as Bear Mountain took the stage, and they immediately got people moving with their electro-dancey-pop. While the four piece does use samples, they play a lot of the songs live; Ian Bevis on bass, synth, and vocals, with his brother Greg on drums, Kyle Statham on guitar, and Kenji Rodriguez on visuals. Which sounds strange, but the visual aspect was treated as important as the music. With a geometrical shaped projection screen behind them, and large triangles of lights, the visuals added a unique layer to their performance.
As for the music itself, there was a great flow to the set, each song transitioning into the next with barely a change for the packed dance floor to catch their breath. Confetti cannons burst, people were crowdsurfing and up on shoulders for highlights like "Two Step" and "Faded", and a fun cover of Tears for Fears' classic "Everybody Wants To Rule The World".
And as much fun as the crowd was having, it was apparent that the band was having more fun; a couple times Kyle leaped off the stage to crowdsurf, and Ian was noticeably moved by the reception from the hometown crowd. They were even called back for an encore, which they obliged.
Admittedly, I am not always a fan of electro-dance type stuff, but Bear Mountain is an exception. Their live show is something to behold, packed with high energy, fun, and infectious songs.

That right there would have been a worthwhile show, but there was still The Belle Game. They kicked off their set with one of the title tracks from their debut album Ritual Tradidtion Habit, "Tradition" as the tone completely shifted with their dark pop and dense sound filling the room. Guitars and synth swirling, and Andrea's powerful voice giving chills, especially in "Little Wars" but especially in "River".
Other highlights included the soaring "Blame Fiction", the sexy slow jam "Bruises To Ash", and a new song written during their residency in Banff, with Ian Bevis coming out to help on vocals. I didn't catch its name, but it was quite possibly the best of the set; still very much a "Belle Game" song -- rich and layered -- but showed huge leaps in their songwriting.
They wrapped up the set with the hugely upbeat "Wait Up For You", with more Bear Mountaineers joining them, first Greg out on the floor tom, then the rest of the band with shakers and backup vocals to wrap it up for a grand ending. But of course, they were back for the encore, a pretty amazing cover of  Nirvana's "All Apologies" wrapping up the night by getting a bit of a sing along going to bring everyone together.
I've been saying for months now that The Vogue would be a great venue for the band -- and while they had played there before, opening for We Are The City and at Petchakutcha -- the headlining spot proved that the theatre venue was a perfect fit for their sound.

Tradition, Wasted Light, Blame Fiction, Little Wars (Causing You Trouble), Keeps Me Up At Night, Bruises To Ash, Ritual, [new song], River, Wait Up For You. 
(encore) All Apologies [Nirvana cover]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Strumbellas @ Biltmore -- 11/05/13

Hot off the heels of the release of We Still Move On Dance Floors, their follow up to the Juno Nominated My Father and The Hunter, The Strumbellas hit the Biltmore Cabaret this Tuesday. The last time I saw them was at the tiny Railway Club and they nearly tore the place down, so I was excited to see them again live.
And as an added bonus, they were joined by a couple of strong local acts to round out the show.

Starting off the night was John Sponarski. One half of Portage & Main, John has recently been playing more solo shows, and he took the stage armed with little more than an acoustic guitar & a harmonica, accompanied by Savannah Leigh Wellman of Redbird to lend her voice to backup vocals.
I saw Sponarski fairly recently, opening for Elliott BROOD, and he seemed much less nervous and more comfortable this time. His solo material was a little more on the country side than Portage & Main, with songs being clearly personal. From "Corn Whiskey" -- based off the traditional "Rye Whiskey" -- written after someone questioned his alcohol intake, to one written after visiting his grandmother in a resting home, the emotion put into the songs really drove them home.
He ended with a great closer; a bit of a sing along, a rousing song both lamenting and celebrating a broken up band. I mentioned it last time, but that song was my favourite of the set, and would be killer with a full band behind it.

Next up was Rolla Olak. Keeping it stripped down, he only had John Sponarski with him on pedal steel, and also kept the same mellow, folk-country vibe throughout most of his set. He had a clear passion while playing, but was lacking a bit in stage presence. I saw him recently as a part of the Peak Performance Project and liked his full band set, but couldn't quite connect to his more acoustic set; maybe it was just a bit too laid back. Which is why my favourite was the last song of the set, as he invited The Strumbellas on stage to pick up instruments and sing along to his final song, a rousing and passionate song, "It's Alright" for a strong finish.

It wasn't long before the stage filled with The Strumbellas, in stark contrast to the previous, two-piece acts. The six piece from Lindsay, Ontario started off the set with "Home Sweet Home", wasting no time showing off their tight harmonies and raucous alt-country roots rock. The whole band was full of energy, but especially keyboardist David Ritter and frontman Simon Ward, who started the show a little shy, by his own admission, but by the end of it he had opened up & was more chatty between songs, even talking directly to crowd members yelling things at the stage.
The set focused mostly on their new album, We Still Move On Dance Floors, with highlights being
the anthemic "End of an Era" and the building intensity of "Ride On". They rounded out the set with some older ones, the explosive "Lakes", and even a great cover of Modest Mouse's "Float On", with Ward getting the crowd to sing along to the chorus, a warm up for another sing along to "The Sheriff", an incredibly catchy tune.
After "ending" the set with "Rhinestone", they didn't even do the fake-leave, rather ended the night by inviting everyone up on stage to dance along with the big closing number, "Pistol"

The Strumbellas put on an incredibly fun live show, and I would not be at all surprised to see them tearing up larger venues like the Commodore in years to come.

Home Sweet Home, Lakes, Ride On, In This Life, Run, The Fire, End of an Era, Sailor's Blues, Float On [Modest Mouse cover], The Sheriff , Sailing, [mystery song], Rhinestone, Pistol. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Eleven: Sing alongs

Hey look, it's another episode of 3am Revelations' very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like Top Six Cover Songsor they can be as obscure and specific as Top Six Cover Songs That Are Not Hurt by Johnny Cash.

This week the audience becomes part of the show with the Top Six Sing Along Songs! Those songs that, when played live, turn into a giant, big group sing along, that gets the crowd involved.

Featured on this week's podcast is:

"Robots" by Dan Mangan
"Jasper" by Aidan Knight
"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" by The Flaming Lips
"Write It All Down For You" by Elliott BROOD
"O Carolina" by Portage & Main
"Don't Be So Mean, Jellybean" by Justin Rutledge

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

beekeeper @ Science World -- 11/01/13

photo: Leigh Eldridge
"It's not an ending, it's an evolution", is something Devon Lougheed said to me in regards to beekeeper's final show. After a strong couple of years, the trio of Devon, Luke Cyca, and Brandi Sidoryk are going their separate ways, leaving the future of beekeeper uncertain. Devon, always a schemer, has hinted that the band may continue in some form, but after last night's show beekeeper as we know them are done.

The show was at Science World as a part of the Amped exhibit, with beekeeper headlining the first of four Teen Band Nights. Each night will see three bands with members between the ages of 14-19, followed by a Peak Performance Project alumni headlining. The three bands this night were ADOB, a ska band; The Specifics, a jazz-rock band; and Strip the Silence, a punk band, and all three were pretty typical high school bands -- loads of potential, but still very young and green.

beekeeper took the stage to their usual prerecorded phone message offering bad advice, and started the set with "Good News". They've always been an energetic bunch, but all three were in fine form for their final outing, with Devon was cracking wise with the crowd, mindful of the younger turnout.

Highlights of the math-rock-y set included the genre-shifting "Oh Hi" complete with kazoo solo, the jokingly renamed "I Don't Need Hope, I Need Whiskey Homework", and "Pinwheel Revolution" which is a rare showcase of Brandi's operatic voice.
They ended the show with the last traditional beekeeper fans-on-stage, as they invited the crowd up for the final song, "Believe, Believe", and took one last bow.

Good News; Table and Bed; Oh Hi!; Sudden Cuckoo; Pets Eat Their Masters; Drownings; Pinwheel Revolution; I Don't Need Hope, I Need Whiskey; Believe, Believe. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Ten: Spooky Songs

Hey look, it's another episode of 3am Revelations' very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like Best Dancing Songsor they can be as obscure and specific as Top Six Songs With A Kazoo Solo.

Since it's just about Hallowe'en, I figure what better way to celebrate than with the Top Six Spooky Songs! By which I don't mean Monster Mash on repeat, but songs that are about spooky & supernatural things. Or at least have titles implying such.

Featured on this week's podcast is:

"Wolf Like Me" by TV On The Radio
"Vampire" by Pink Mountaintops
"Colt Stands Up, Grows Horns" by Sunset Rubdown
"They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbours!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!" by Sufjan Stevens
"Eek, It's Hallowe'en" by Ryan Dahle
"Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?" by North American Hallowe'en Prevention Initiative

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

WiL @ The Cellar -- 10/25/13

From the first time I saw him, opening at the Commodore for Wide Mouth Mason, I've been a fan of Wil Mimnaugh, otherwise known simply as WiL. With his energetic roots-rock sound, he has become one of my favourite guitar players, especially to watch live. So when he came through Vancouver at the Cellar Nightclub, celebrating the release of his first live album, Live at the Ironwood, I sure wasn't going to miss it.

It was an early show, and I got there a little late, missing first opener Connor Roff, and only catching the last couple songs of Jack Mercer. He was on stage alone with a very bluesy sound, and I wish I had caught more of his set.

Then at 9:30 sharp, WiL hit the stage, just him and drummer Kevin Haughton. Launching immediately into "Rain On", he played a nearly hour and a half set that spanned his albums, from old favourites like "Both Hands", which utilizes his raw powerful vocals, and a request from the crowd for "Mama", to a couple brand new songs.

Other highlights included the the powerful emotion of "Wedding Dress" and "Hey Now", where he really let loose at the ending, showing off how amazing of a guitar player he is. Going from wildly strumming so fast his hand is a blur, to intricate finger picking at a moments notice, his playing is as intense as it is mesmerising.
He's also got a great presence on stage; from joking around between songs to sincere gratitude for supporting him, to actual concern for the eardrums of the people standing near the speaker, he came across as very genuine. 

WiL lived up to his "I break strings" moniker, as well. After a few people in the crowd yelled some encouragement to break strings, he promised he would but admitted that it kind of sucks when it does happen -- "like yelling at a passing cyclist to get a flat tire!" -- and sure enough, during the second to last song of the night, he created more fodder for his wife's jewellery (she makes bracelets, earrings, and necklaces from the guitar strings).

Not bothering with the faux encore, WiL played right up until the curfew, wrapping up the set with the crowd (and my) favourite "Honey Pie", just tearing away at the guitar, somehow topping the intensity from the last hour and a half. I've probably seen WiL live a dozen times over the years, and he never fails to impress and amaze me.

Rain On, Hold Me On, [new song], Wedding Dress, Hey Now, We All, Both Hands, Mama, Oak Tree, Roam, Tell You Twice, Baby Baby, [mystery song], Honey Pie.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Nine: Broken Up Bands

Hey look, it's another episode of 3am Revelations' very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like Best Side Projectsor they can be as obscure and specific as Top Six Math Rock Trios.

This week, we mourn the bands that we lost too soon. Those that broke up, split, dissolved, went their separate ways. Here it is, your Top Six Broken Up Bands!

Featured on this week's podcast is:

"Ghost Towns" by Treelines
"Snakecharming the Masses" by The Stills
"Come on Baby Say Bang Bang" by Jane Vain & The Dark Matter
"Dear Confessor" by Immaculate Machine
"Breakin' Up"  by Rilo Kiley
"Without Friends" by The Ghost is Dancing

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Peak Performance Project Showcase #5 @ Fortune -- 10/17/13

The Peak Performance Project is a multi-year contest in which The Peak, along with Music BC, picks 20 BC musicians/bands each a year and makes them stars. Past winners are We Are The CityKypriosCurrent Swell, and Dear Rouge with a ton of great bands and artists included as well.

Part one of the project was a "rock & roll boot camp" where the musicians went on a week long retreat to get lectures and advice from industry pros, to help them refine their craft. Phase two is a series of shows at Fortune Sound Club; four artists a night for five weeks, each playing a 45 minute set. The bands are rated by a panel of judges, which will go toward their final score in the project. They've also been tasked to learn a "Classic Canadian Cover" to play during their set. I always love hearing bands play cover songs, and it's always interesting to see who each act chooses, if it's someone obvious to their style, or something way outside the box.

I've said a couple times previously, coming in to this year I had some very strong biases, and Hannah Epperson was one such bias. I've always liked violins in music and been fascinated by looping, so the first time I saw her ethereal violin looping ways, I was enamoured. She's been involved in past years, supporting other bands, but this time she has made the top twenty with her own material. 
She took the stage to start the night alone, building intricate violin loops and adding her soft and gorgeous voice, starting with "Murder of Crows". Her set was much like her songs -- starting with one, quieter part before adding layer upon layer -- as she was joined after a couple songs in by a gentleman first on saxophone, then on a drum pad.
Hannah's cover was also quite unique; she started with Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs", but the chorus twisted into "Shot For Me" by Drake, and there was even a little bit of the melody of Fred Penner's "The Cat Came Back" for good measure. It was probably the neatest of all the covers not only in the night, but the whole year. 
She brought the set to an end with the apocalyptic "We Will Host A Party", and if the crowd's response was any indicator, Hannah had plenty of other fans, old or new, in the crowd.
I'm not entirely sure how a solo female violin looper will do in a contest where the top three is historically predominantly male rock bands, but it will be a travesty if she doesn't at least make the top five.

Next up was Amble Greene, the musical project of Cameron Gray. With a backing band that included some nice co-ed backup vocals and some rock sax, he had a pretty straightforward pop rock sound, with a little bit of a folky twinge.
His cover was "Mistake" by Serial Joe, a bit more mellow than its pop-punk original. The choice to cover a song that most people outside of the 90's have forgotten made sense, as a lot of his set had a bit of a 90's influenced vibe to it. Though there was one song that stood out and I really liked; I didn't catch the name of it, but it was a bit darker and more moody than the rest of the songs.
Aside from a bit of recurring feedback, it was a decent set. Nothing spectacular, but inoffensive. He also had a projection screen to his side for the whole set, with images and video clips played on it, but it wasn't terribly visible for someone half way back in the venue.

BESTiE hit the stage next, with a pair of cheerleaders out for their first song. They had a ridiculously fun and catchy tropical power-pop sound, that immediately got people moving and dancing as they kicked off the set with "Pineapple". The band was full of energy, especially lead singer Tristan Orchard, who barely stood still on stage.
They brought out some friends to help them with their cover, a horn section (in costumes) and members of Humans for a really strong rendition of "Eyes of a Stranger" originally by Payola$. The horn section stayed on stage for their last couple songs, and the stage filled up even more as they invited "everyone that likes hot sauce" up for a big dance party for their final sing, "Sriracha".
I'm not sure if I would go home and listen to a BESTiE album, as there wasn't much variation in their songs, but they are a really fun and high energy live band that I would want to see play again.

The final band of the night, and of the showcase series for this year, was Abbotsford's  Oh No! Yoko. They were another band that I came in to this year's competition with a bias towards, but unfortunately it was not the good kind. I had seen them a couple years ago, and never really bought into the buzz around them, but I was interested to see how they've progressed.
The trio has definitely gotten more cohesive, as the band grew up together through high school, but their songs just fall flat to me; part of it might be the "yelpy" vocal style, which I am not really a fan of, but for whatever reason, I just can't connect with their math-rock sound.
Their set was pretty upbeat and energetic, thought there was a bit of a slowdown in the set when they had to set up and take down the keyboard in the middle of their set for their cover, a nice synthy version of The Guess Who's "These Eyes". After they brought the energy back up, they wrapped up with the only older song they played in their set, "90's Kids" and even got some of the remaining fans crowdsurfing.
They also give off a bit of that "we're too cool to care" vibe, which can sometimes rub me the wrong way. If they give a song a derisive introduction, then why should I care about it?

And with that, the showcase portion of the fifth year of the Peak Performance Project comes to a close. Now, and until the 25th of October, each of the twenty bands needs to solicit their fans for the voting portion of the competition, as well as write some business-type reports, and hope for the best. The top five is announced on November 5th, with the fifth and fourth places named, and on November 21st someone will be walking away with a giant novelty cheque for $102,700 as the top three is unveiled at the Commodore Ballroom.

And if you're curious, I'm pulling for a top five of Rykka, Hannah Epperson, Willhorse, The Lion The Bear The Fox, and Towers and Trees.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Eight: Songelgängers

Hey look, it's another episode of 3am Revelations' very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as broad and vague like Best Duosor they can be as obscure and specific as Best Septets.

This week, we take a look at the strange phenomenon where two musicians, completely independent of each other, come up with songs that happen to have the exact same name. And I don't mean song titles like "Home" or "Run" or "Tonight", but ones that are a little less common. So here it is, your Top Six Doppelgänger Songs, or Songelgängers!

Featured on this week's podcast is:

"Pledge of Allegiance" by Matthew Good
"Pledge of Allegiance" by Louis XIV
"Phantom Limb" by The Shins
"Phantom Limb" by Wide Mouth Mason
"Loveless" by Said the Whale
"Loveless" by Matt Mays

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Peak Performance Project Showcase #4 @ Fortune -- 10/10/13

The Peak Performance Project is a multi-year contest in which The Peak, along with Music BC, picks 20 BC musicians/bands each a year and makes them stars. Past winners are We Are The CityKypriosCurrent Swell, and Dear Rouge with a ton of great bands and artists included as well.

Part one of the project was a "rock & roll boot camp" where the musicians went on a week long retreat to get lectures and advice from industry pros, to help them refine their craft. Phase two is a series of shows at Fortune Sound Club; four artists a night for five weeks, each playing a 45 minute set. The bands are rated by a panel of judges, which will go toward their final score in the project. They've also been tasked to learn a "Classic Canadian Cover" to play during their set. I always love hearing bands play cover songs, and it's always interesting to see who each act chooses, if it's someone obvious to their style, or something way outside the box.

Starting off the penultimate showcase was Victoria's Dougal Bain McLean. Occasionally a solo performer, Dougal came out with a full band to fill out his pop-rock sound. His songs were catchy, but what drew me in most was his voice; that kind of gruff-yet-smooth voice that sounds like he drank a bottle of whiskey before the show.
After a few tunes, including the jaunty "Camino", he traded his guitar for a violin for a couple songs. The first of which was actually my favourite song of the set; it had a greater intensity than the rest of the set, and made me wish he was on the violin more often. It definitely set him apart from some of the other singer/songwriters in the competition.
Staying on violin, Dougal went for more of a "modern classic" with his cover, a nice version of Patrick Watson's "Adventures in Your Own Back Yard", and he ended the set with the most high energy song of the night.

Coldwater Road took the stage next. The five-piece from Vancouver have kind of a pop-folk group, with split male/female vocals. They also had a cello to round out their sound, and a drummer that would occasionally swap out for guitar.
The band gave off kind of a fun, goofy vibe for a lot of their set, without being too silly or cheesy. Songs like "Seven Letters" were playful and perhaps a little tongue in cheek, though but they had a couple other, slower or more serious songs.
I thought for sure their cover was going to be something by Barenaked Ladies, but I was wrong and they went with a version of "5 Days In May" by Blue Rodeo.
They were a perfectly fun band to see live, but I don't know if I'd be going out of my way to hear more.

Next up was Bodhi Jones, for an unprecedented third time going through the project. He took part in the first and second years, and -- after a brief retirement from making music -- is now back this year. I said before I had a few biases going in to the shows this year, and Jones was one of them. I have never been much of a fan, but I tried to go into his set with an open mind.
He is by no means a bad musician, and he surrounded himself with great local musicians for his backing band, but his songs fall a little flat. None of them really seemed to "pop" to me, and some of the lyrics were a bit cliché. But he's definitely comfortable on stage and has a good presence, and seems to have a loyal fan-base.
Bodhi also chose to go more modern with his cover, "Weighty Ghost" originally by Wintersleep. He had people singing and clapping along at the end, which lead into his last song of the night, giving his set a big, grandiose finish.
Oh, and a couple songs in he had someone, whose name I didn't catch, come out and do a short rap/slam poetry. Which seemed a little out of place.

And finally, Lions In The Street wrapped up the night. They took the stage backlit, and stayed in silhouette for most of their set, with everything cranked up for the loudest of the showcases thus far. The four-piece had loads of energy with a swampy rock sound, though there wasn't much variation to their songs. I wasn't surprised to find they were a previously in Fox Seeds, as well, since they sounded like they would have fit in perfectly to that annual competition.
They kept up the same intensity and loudness throughout their entire set, including their cover as they added to the Neil Young count, going with a deep cut "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere"
The band is ten year vets of the business, and that certainly showed on stage, but for whatever reason their set just didn't click with me.

And that almost does it for this year's Peak Performance Project showcases. Next week will be the final one featuring Hannah Epperson, Amble Greene, BESTiE, and Oh No! Yoko.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Seven: Pumping You Up

Hey look, it's another episode of 3am Revelations' very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as broad and vague like Best Duosor they can be as obscure and specific as Best Septets.

Every now and then you need a little something to get you going. To get you psyched up. To get your ass in gear. And these six songs do a damn good job of that. They motivate and inspire. They pump you up. They make you feel like you can do anything at all! So here are the Top Six Songs That Make You Feel Like You Can Take Over the World (but not in a supervillain way)!

Featured on this week's podcast is:

"It" by Rich Aucoin
"Lovely Allen" by Holy Fuck
"Meet Me In The Basement" by Broken Social Scene
"Things Will Get Better" by Bend Sinister
"Deadlines" by Arkells
"Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur" by Sigur Rós

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode Six: Duets

Hey look, it's another episode of 3am Revelations' very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as broad and vague like Best Dancey Songsor they can be as obscure and specific as Best Songs To Listen To While Slowly Descending Into Madness.

I always enjoy it when two singers I like come together to join voices. Or even being surprised unexpected pairings. So this week, with the Top Six Duets we see what happens as the results of their powers combined. And I don't just mean bands with two lead singers. I mean when someone drops in on another person's song to make a little bit of magic.

Featured on this week's podcast is:

"Where the Wild Roses Grow" by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (featuring Kylie Minogue)
"Hangover Days" by Jason Collett (featuring Emily Haines)
"You & I" by Wilco (featuring Feist)
"Stop" by Buck 65 (featuring Hannah Georgas)
"Poor Young Things" by Peter Elkas & Joel Plaskett
"Cigarette Thin (or The Age of Asparagus)" by Jim Bryson & Jeremy Fisher

Any questions or comments or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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