Saturday, November 16, 2013

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.

setlist
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".

setlist
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. 

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