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.

setlist
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]

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