Kyra – It sure was nice to dust off the old camera and head out to a show this past Thursday. I’ll admit The Electric Owl isn’t my favourite venue, but I do like Dominique Fricot (and I’m a sucker for a decently designed poster).
I always love an opening act that is completely new to me. It’s so interesting to experience someone’s music for the first time in a live setting. In JP Hoe‘s case, it definitely did him justice. The performance was truly enjoyable. It was a healthy mix of mellow sway alongs, upbeat toe-tappers and dramatic ballads that showed off JPs hauntingly powerful voice. Accompanied only by a cello and a violin, the sound was full and captivating but still intricate and not too busy.
Near the beginning of his set JP shared a cute anecdote about playing a free concert in the park and a man who clearly didn’t have a lot of money giving him a $10 bill. He told him he didn’t get to see very many concerts and he really enjoyed getting to hear his music. Sometimes I get a bit lost in the vast sea of music that I am so fortunate to be exposed to and that little story really made me sit back and appreciate JP’s performance.
By the end of his set the place was standing room only and everyone was clapping along to his final tune. Though it would probably live mostly on my mellow playlist, I would definitely put JP Hoe’s music on iPod and would love to see him live again.
Dominique Fricot started his set off with a bang and got everyone on their feet with two of his most rocking tunes. The energy on stage was instant and resonated all the way to the back corner where I was seated, drawing me toward the stage. There was something so raw and just genuinely rock and roll about the performance as I watched those first two songs. He moved into some of his more mellow tunes, which were nothing less than a treat for the ears. His band left the stage for a few songs and the audience was captivated by nothing but an acoustic guitar and Dominique’s dynamic vocal range. I was especially excited to see Hilary Grist join him on stage for a few tunes, including one brand new one that was incredibly catchy and a great way to end his set.
While Dominique’s undeniably beautiful vocals would be wasted without including a few solid ballads, I personally feel he is incredibly suited for the more high energy tunes and I would love to see him embrace his inner rock star.
That being said, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Thursday night than taking it easy with friends and enjoying some awesome live music in a relaxed setting.
Kyra – I haven’t been getting out to nearly enough shows lately, so when our friend, Brett Wildeman, said he would be playing at a CD release party last Friday, I knew I had to find the time. Live music has a way of making my day every time, whether it’s a spectacle filled concert at Rogers Arena, a sold out show at the Commodore, a band trying desperately to entertain a bar full of drunk party-goers or a small release party for a folk band in an eclectic café off Commercial drive. The latter describes the Great Lonely Wild release party that I attended on Friday night. The show took place at the Prophouse café, which I guess used to be an actual prop house and is now, more or less, just filled to the brim with junk… but some very cool and beautiful junk! It was a bit awkwardly laid out for a show, but it was a neat atmosphere and I heard the veggie burgers were amazing!
Brett Wildeman has come so far since I first saw him perform several years ago. I have always been a big fan of his lyrics, but I feel his guitar playing and his voice have improved immensely. Currently working on his first full album, Brett says he feels his new stuff is a bit more accessible and he is excited to share it. I think there are a lot of people wanting to break into music that could learn a lot from Brett in that he is so genuine and appreciative of everyone that has helped him on his journey.
I must say, the other opener, Lydia Hol, really made the night for me. I found myself baffled that I had never heard of this girl before. She is a beautiful folk artist, but she has a bit of spunk too. I thought her voice was polished and a pleasure to listen to and she is simply adorable! I’m not sure why I haven’t come across her before, but you can bet I will make sure that I hear more!
By the time Great Lonely Wild was up the place was packed; standing room only. The all-female three piece delighted the room with their set, including songs of their brand new album The West Beyond The West. It was folk music through and through. With each song came an interesting story and a connection to the heritage of the Pacific Northwest. While I will admit, this isn’t typically the kind of music I stock my iTunes with, they certainly did it justice and it was a terrific show!
Kyra – I’ve discovered that once I decide I enjoy a band’s live performance, I can’t help but prioritize them as I pick and choose from the countless shows going on in Vancouver. This is why I’m very grateful that a show typically consists of several bands. Even though I am attending mostly for the band that I am a fan of (and have probably already seen 20 times), I am still exposed to new artists and I am so often pleasantly surprised. This Saturday I went out to Five Sixty to see a band that will no doubt be very familiar to any Stage Left readers, Bystarlight. However I also got to enjoy a performance by Pardon My Striptease and discovered a new love for a band called Crystal Kid.
Pardon My Striptease is a group we have seen play once before at VENUE, but I seemed to appreciate their performance even more this time. I’ll admit the style of music they play isn’t exactly my favourite, but they play it well. I noticed this time how lovely the lead singer’s voice is. Even when they are rocking out, his voice comes across as effortless and is quite frankly a pleasure to listen to.
I’m sure you all know what big Bystarlight fans we are here at Stage Left, but this was a particularly good performance. Packed with all new tunes, they’re performance was a great representation of the awesome places this band is heading. You’ve heard it here from day one, these guys are gunna be a recognizable name before you know it!
Crystal Kid refer to themselves as ‘two brothers making noise’. I was skeptical at first as they began their first song. While they sounded good, I was searching a bit for something unique. I can definitely say I found what I was searching for, as they got further into their set they proved that they do have something different. The diversity between songs kept me interested and engaged. They managed to absolutely kill a cover of Fun’s ‘We Are Young’, dismissing the mellow nature of the original and playing it like an epic rock anthem. I was impressed with the lead singers subtle but cute banter with the audience as he encouraged the ladies to help him out since the song was so high (he didnt need the help, he did just fine). By the next song they played, I was sold. The song ‘Crazy’ was by far my favourite of the set and was catchy, dynamic and showcased their vocals nicely. Make noise they did, and an enjoyable bunch of noise it was! I would definitely see Crystal Kid again.
Kyra – I was like a kid in a candy store at Khatsahlano Festival this past weekend. I was overwhelmed by the amount of awesome music at this giant outdoor festival. With 10 stages, I obviously wasn’t able to catch everyone, but since I had my parents with me for the day I decided to focus on catching some of my favourites.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen 41st and Home and I was so glad we got there in time to catch their early afternoon set. They played a lot of new stuff, which only heightened my already impatient anticipation of their next album. These guys haven’t put out anything that I don’t love so I am expecting great things.
My mom finally had the opportunity to come out with me and see one of her favourite bands, Redgy Blackout, and she wasn’t disappointed. “They have the whole package,” she said. Their music is unique, but catchy and accessible and they were perfectly suited to a sunny afternoon in Kitsalano. They have some great new merch too, I picked myself up a Redgy Blackout tank top and I love it!
We headed down to the Burrard stage to see the Matinee, but not before grabbing some amazing frozen yogurt at a place called Scoops. Festivals like Khatsahlano provide such an awesome opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy the awesome live music Vancouver has to offer in a relaxed setting with all kinds of other awesome things to see and do. The Matinee was brilliant, as usual. I’m sure you can tell by their frequent appearance on Stage Left that we are big fans and, after the new material that we got a taste of on Saturday, I know you will see more of them.
While The Zolas didn’t quite have the same upbeat vibe that some of the other bands brought to this high-energy festival, they drew the largest crowd, which didn’t surprise me in the least. They have an impressive following in this city and the fans that come out bring an energy to their shows that is difficult to explain. As the sun began to set, The Zolas rocked West 4th with some new tunes and some old faves and finished off by inviting the entire festival to a party at Zach’s place.
Kyra – The Surrey Canada Day celebration was the perfect place for a music lover to spend what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. My only complaint was that I was unable to be in two places at once. Both the Main Stage and the Peak stages had some incredible acts. While I didn’t catch them all, I was fortunate enough to see a number of this year’s Peak Performance ProjectTop 20. Between some old favourites such as Portage and Main and Redgy Blackout and some new ones such as The Fugitivesand Jordan Klassen, this year’s competition is shaping up to be an exciting one.
The first act that I was able to check out on the Main Stage was one of my favourites, Andrew Allen. He was the perfect artist to fill the park in Surrey with his bright smile and upbeat tunes. He never fails to bring a smile to my face, especially when he plays my very favourite song, Sooner, which has just recently been released on iTunes. I also finally got the opportunity to seeHannah Georgas live and I’m so glad I did. Her music is unique but still accessible and her voice is spectacular. She is both adorable and powerful on stage and a pleasure to watch.
The headliner and the act that the whole park was waiting for was the Sam Roberts Band. I didn’t really know what to expect from their live performance, but I must say they are simply a true rock band. They just get on stage and play their instruments and they do it damn well! Sam Roberts was a pro at the audience banter. With one look at the front row you could see he had the audience mesmerized with his charm, his smile and of course his classic, but far from ordinary, voice. I can only imagine that even for those way in the back of the massive crowd that filled the park, this band was the perfect choice to provide the soundtrack to a beautiful evening spent celebrating Canada’s birthday.
I had a blast getting to see hear all of the amazing live music at this event and, of course, loved the opportunity to take some great pictures to share with all of you. Happy Birthday Canada!
Kyra – The Make Music Vancouver Festival brought he crowds of people out to the streets of Gastown (and Yaletown) to partake in an extremely diverse sampling of live music. The concept, I thought, was brilliant. It gives you an opportunity to hear a little bit of everything and experience artists that you may never think to go see at a smaller venue. I’ll admit there were some logistical issues as artists struggled to play over the completing sounds coming from all around them. There also was no screening process for the acts, so a few things that I heard left me a little less than impressed. However, I did get to see our good friend Brett Wildeman play to a very large gathering of people that seemed to be thoroughly enjoying his sound. I also heard a few other things I liked, from an acoustic trio to a young rock band to a couple of rappers. Overall it was amazing to see so many people come out to hear some of the great live music that Vancouver has to offer.
Kyra – I couldn’t imagine a better place to be on a beautiful Saturday afternoon than outside listening to some amazing bands. Uptown Live, the musical portion of Hyack festival in New Westminster, provided four stages worth of awesome music to fill the afternoon. While I was able to catch bits of some of the other acts, it was at one of the main stages that I parked myself for the sets of some bands that I had been really looking forward to.
Fine Times was just starting when I arrived. You could hear their music filling the streets from blocks away. It was nice to finally get a taste of this band after hearing so much about them. In their matching sunglasses, they looked the part as they played a selection of songs that were both unique, but very quintessentially “alternative”. While I can imagine them rocking a more intimate venue, they actually suited the fun, relaxed environment of the festival quite nicely and were a great way to start off.
I have been looking forward to seeing The Left live since I stumbled across their EP last November. Having loved every song on the CD, I expected nothing less from their live performance. And while I most certainly was not disappointed, I was a little surprised. The played the title track of their EP, Cellophane, and they played it well. I sang and bopped along to their catchier tunes as lead vocalist, Kevin, delivered the strong, pleasant vocals that I had come to expect from their music. However, they also included some more soulful songs that allowed keyboardist, Josh to show off his impressive vocals and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected mix up. As my friend who doesn’t typically go to these sorts of shows with me put it, actually quite nicely, “I like these guys because they’re just good and they don’t take themselves too seriously.” They looked like they were having a great time up there and everyone at the festival was having a great time with them.
The final band that I had the pleasure to catch was The Zolas. Joined by Cayne (from We Are the City) on Keyboards, they drew an impressive crowd of people all eager to see them play. After filling time while in a somewhat awkward, but highly entertaining and interesting fashion, as only Zach could do, the band got the go ahead to start their set. The crowd was warned that it might feel a bit like a rehearsal since they would be trying out some of their new songs, but were relieved to find out that they would still get to hear some of their older favourites. The crowd only grew larger as they played. It was by far one of the most passionate sets I have ever encountered at an outdoor festival. I really appreciated that they still put their absolute all into the set, even though it was the middle of the afternoon playing for a collection of people who may or may not have ever heard of them before. Although I must say it seemed like much of the crowd had. The Zolas are certainly gaining a reputation in this city, and one that I’m sure they will not fail to live up to.
All in all it was a brilliant way to spend an afternoon. I really enjoy getting out to events like this; you get to feel like a bit of a tourist in your own city and enjoy everything it has to offer, including some killer live music.
Brittany – I have always been a fan of Venue for its performance space. It always is able to add to the allure of the acts and somehow make the experience better and this night was no exception! To begin the night we heard the tunes from Exit 200. These guys not only could play their instruments like pros (including the saxophone), but they also surprised me by the type of music they ultimately played. After the first strum of the guitar and a solid instrumental introduction I was half expecting to hear some true rock and roll and for the most part we happily did. To my pleasant surprise, out came the saxophone and in came the reggae influences. My only regret of the evening was not being able to ask the guys what influenced their music. Overall the guys had talent and performed well. I know I am looking forward to uploading their EP onto my computer asap and you should too! Check out their upcoming shows and pick up their EP today!
The Faceplants, The Faceplants, The Faceplants, The Faceplants. What a bunch! One of my pet peeves about attending shows where I am unfamiliar with the bands and they don’t say their name right away or not at all. Not only did the Faceplants up the visuals displaying the band name, lead singer Dan was saying the band’s name every chance he could. Now this can be annoying to some people, but as Dan said, he just wanted to make sure the same got stuck in your head. Well, it worked for me. Previously we posted a review for their Joe’s Apartment show and encouraged them to be a little more flirty and interactive. I can honestly say I am extremely impressed with their performance because it seemed like they took our advice. A technical difficulty (which we thought was actually a rather happy accident) caused the drums to be removed for a part of a track while the rest of the band went on acoustically which was thus able to showcase the harmonies and raw talent of these guys, not mention their ability to adapt. I personally think it made the track even better having it begin acoustically and later bringing in the drums to hit the crowd with the extra ‘mmph’ we crave. As always the guys had our jaws to the floor with their impressive covers ( including niggas in paris and the lazy song) accompanied with dance moves. I could literally not take my eyes off these guys for one second because I was afraid I would miss one of their quirks. This time around they brought out all the bells and whistles beginning with showcasing their talent alongside their perfectly paired personalities and keeping the crowd as engaged as possible. These guys have been working extremely hard over the past couple months to complete their upcoming EP and I am stoked to say the least. Their EP drops July 21st alongside the release party at the RIO in Vancouver. Hit up the Faceplants for tickets, we promise you won’t be disappointed!
Unfortunately, we were only able to catch the beginning of the band Pardon My Striptease before heading home to adhere to work week bedtimes. They were certainly high energy, but as the crowd thinned out it seemed that we had definitely caught the main event, The Faceplants, who can proudly say they killed their first show at Venue.
Brittany – Have you ever heard of the band The Faceplants? Neither had I, until their April 6th performance at Joe’s Apartment. Although I had never heard any of their tracks before, their energy kept me grooving and engaged in the performance. I cannot say for sure if their influences come from Sublime, or even Jamaican beats, but you sure could get that vibe. Their lyrics were catchy and (I think) well paired with lead singer Dan Botch’s vocals. On the other hand, with every positive thing I found about their musical choices I also found myself wanting to offer some advice on how to improve the song quality so that a number of their songs could be differentiated, and the vocals could shine a little more prominently. For my own taste, I found there to be a bit too much in sync backup vocals just yelling into the mics screaming ‘Go’; which is fine for just the one song, but maybe change up the background vocals in other tracks? Or, I might even suggest melodies if the guys were up for that. I would love to see “That Much More to Me” done with a more flirty start and maybe hold off on the drums for a line or two of lyrics. I’m also not 100% positive if this was a tech problem for this performance either, but I could barely hear the keyboard player at times. I would love to see them use the keys more to their advantage, and maybe even help them get their ‘flirt’ on. With The Faceplants’ energy and Dan’s unique vocal stylings, these guys could be powerhouses. For now, I would love to see some more vocal focus and maybe tease the crowd a little bit with the lyrics before you finally slap them in the face with the guitar riff. With some more vocal experimentation and singling out certain instruments, these guys are sure to rock the Vancouver music scene, and I cannot wait to see what they do next. Stage Left will definitely be keeping a close eye for their debut EP this summer 2012.
The boys of ByStarlight are some of the coolest guys I know. This makes it just that much easier to rave about their best performance I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. They’ve really stepped it up and put their talents to work by compiling catchy, upbeat tracks that keep you craving more. I particularly love Antics in Romantics and Monster. The past couple of weeks has brought big changes for the band. ByStarlight has managed to bring in two new powerhouses to the group including keyboard and backup vocalist, Rachel and guitarist, Jeff (or ‘the hair’ as we should call him… no seriously, his hair is so quaffed; its glorious!). Combine ByStarlight’s musical influences with the new band additions and you have MAGIC. Each member is unique and has their own personality on stage, and off, but somehow it all works. Besides some minor tech issues, lead singer Nigel Crowe’s voice keeps getting better with time and the songs are really coming together. These guys (and gal!) are headed in the right direction with their growing talents. Can’t wait to see what’s in store, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.
The final performer of the night was Kristen Karma. Before she hit the stage, I was able to snag her business card, which included basic info and a picture of Kristen. The photo itself was standard and complimentary but my expectations based on the card did not match what I saw when she performed. I am still confused as to what ‘look’ she is going for, and even which genre she is categorizing herself under. Kristen Karma, as a singer, is quite talented. Although I was not blown away by her original songs, I did like her cover of Cee Lo Greens “F*** You” and Kristen seemed to really be trying to ‘up’ the performance aspect of her set. I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but even with a few mistakes, she really sold her performance. I would suggest Kristen try to nail down which market she is wanting to reach (and maybe even redo the business card to represent that?) Kristen Karma confused me a bit with her approach to performing, but definitely has artistic potential.
Kyra – The first act of the night was what I would describe as good fun! Ian House warmed up the crowd with some familiar covers and some collaborations with various people in the room. My personal favourite was his rendition of Justin Bieber’s Baby!
Alysha Brillinger, from Toronto, took the stage next and brought something unique and charismatic! Her sound was upbeat but not too in-your-face, and her voice is beautiful and perfectly suited to the style of music she plays. I am often blown away by how someone can so successfully command a room with just their voice and an acoustic guitar – Alysha is one of those cases. Her tunes had most of the room bobbing along and it definitely made me excited for summer… I think her music would be a good soundtrack to a lazy, but beautiful, summer day! She introduced her cover of Amy Whinehouse’s Love is a Losing Game by sharing (and in fact celebrating) that she just had a breakup; “they say love makes you crazy, I think breakups make you crazy”. While I do admit there’s a fine line between stage banter and oversharing, I enjoy hearing a little commentary on life from artists on stage every now and again. By the end of her set, the crowd emerged from the edges of the room and populated the floor, ready to dance.
The dancing continued for Redgy Blackout‘s set, as they kicked it off with a song I love, Heart Beat. They put on an amazing show, as always! I’m amazed at what awesome music they can create with just the two of them up there. In response to an audience that didn’t want to stop dancing, they kept it upbeat all the way through and ended with my personal favourite Like Penguins Do.
I try to refrain from raving unless I feel it is truly deserved, but I must say Watasun earned it! While I am a huge fan of their albums, they really don’t compare to hearing this band live. I can think of no better way to describe it than as ‘candy for the ears’. The combination of infectious rhythms, unique instruments and Adam’s textured voice make each song an absolute treat to listen to. I have not seen the media club that hoppin’ in quite some time. I did see a few people in the room not dancing, but they looked like they were really fighting it. It was a fun Friday night at the Media Club and I would highly suggest checking out a Watasun show in the future.