a day in the life of ...

Friday, April 18, 2008

04.17.2008 Metric / The Clips

The last time Metric played a headlining show in Vancouver was about 2 years ago. In that time lead singer Emily Haines put out a solo album and the band re-released their indie album. A live DVD effort was also put forth. This night however was billed as 'Road Testing New Songs' or something to that effect. The result was mixed.

One thing that looked different was the Commodore itself. Two large projector screens look to have been installed as well as an in-house video crew. The footage was mixed on the fly and put on the screens much like it would be in a larger stadium show. This seems over kill in a smaller venue like the Commodore, but I suppose the vantage point for some areas are poorer than others.

Local indie band the Clips opened the show. As an opening band they were not bad. Their drummer interestingly enough plays in profile on the right side of the stage. Musically, they were ok. I don't know why, but if anyone has heard the extended jam that Metric used to do at the end of 'Dead Disco' a couple of years ago; thats what it reminds me of. I think I'll have to see them again to form a better opinion. They did have a decent live show.

After about half an hour, Metric stormed the stage, immediately starting off with their Freddie Mercury inspired 'Freddie'. It was also the first of a couple new songs to be played. The night's setlist consisted of old and new songs, roughly 80 minutes total. Performance-wise, the band was in top form. It was fairly evident that the band was eager to play after some time in the studio. Emily Haines, in comparison to Metric's previous Vancouver shows, was particularly talkative. Tonight's show was refreshingly full of stage banter. The last 3 times I saw Metric, I think she had a total of a minute's worth of small talk for the crowd.

The biggest disappointment about the show was that for a show that was billed as playing new songs, they only played 4 of them. Which isn't all that special relatively. I've seen the Blood Brothers play practically their entire new album during one of their similarly named tours. I believe Wolf Parade played 5-7 new songs and they didn't even announce it. The new songs that they did play were on the whole pretty good. None strayed too far from the rock synth hook Metric formula, but all were solid numbers. If anything the new songs seem to lean more towards a mainstream line than past efforts. Other notables: 'Rock Me Now' was extended with a crowd participation section. 'Calculation Theme' was nice to hear, although I prefer it without the added drums parts. 'Live It Out' was done with just Emily and guitarist James Shaw. The result was ...interesting. The night ended with another new song, Stadium Love, which was a little to crossover radio for me. However that's in line with the direction that they seem to be heading - ie: maybe they want Feist dollars.

Poster of a Girl
Dead Disco
Cupid and Psyche
Hustle Rose
Satellite Mind
Rock Me Now
Calculation Theme
Combat Baby
Live It Out (acoustic)
Monster Hospital
Stadium Love

$30/35 SOLD OUT

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

04.11.2008 AMS Block Party: STARS / Wintersleep / Five Alarm Funk / Most Serene Republic

The AMS Block Party is the offspring of UBC's annual, and now dead, Arts County Fair. Which is rather unfortunate, seeing as the lineup for the last 2 years were really good. So, instead of a large stadium festival type setup, UBC's end of the year drunken festivities were held on a field with a capacity of about 6000. I think I read somewhere that ACF was stopped due to it being too costly and that they had a lot of trouble with overly drunk douche-bags. I guess the reasoning is that, while music and cheap beer will no doubt still bring out the douches, at least with a smaller capacity, there'll be less of them.

I've seen Most Serene Republic 4 or 5 times now. Always in an opening slot. They seem to open a lot of good shows. Frankly, I find them a little boring. However, the 30 or so people watching them seemed to enjoy it.

Five Alarm Funk sound like a group of white guys playing James Brown inspired funk. They were actually well received by the heavily inebriated crowd.

Wintersleep was scheduled for 45 min. They ended up playing about 35 min. The later start time was either due to Five Alarm Funk (although I didn't really like them I won't assume it was their fault as I didn't check when they ended) going overtime or longer setup time was needed (probably more likely?). To make matters worse, apparently there was miscommunication in terms of set times. I believe Wintersleep thought that they had a 60 minute slot instead of their 45 minutes. This meant that 4 songs were knocked off their setlist. I'm actually really enjoying hearing 'Yellow Bellied...' as their usual opener. 'Drunk on Aluminum' worked better as an opener when it was still played with a tambourine. For some reason Paul's acoustic wasn't working so he used a clean electric instead for 'Weighty Ghost'. I was thinking of suggesting they play the old version.

Miasmal Smoke and the Yellow Bellied Freaks
Dead Letter
Jaws Of Life
Weighty Ghost
Search Party *Not Played*
Astronaut *Not Played*
Laser Beams *Not Played*
Danse Macabre *Not Played*

When I go to shows, I usually hope one of 2 things happen, a) rare songs are played or b) something interesting happens. I got my wish (b not a), even though it sort of resulted in me not enjoying the show as much. By now most of the crowd have been drinking and yes, a mosh pit has started. I'm not surprised, I've seen people mosh for Metric and New Pornographers. Amy and Torq looked pretty concerned, as they stopped several songs mid swing to tell people to calm down. Several times Torq was overhead making thinly veiled insinuations of homosexuality at the offenders. During 'Bitches in Tokyo', this amusing exchange was heard:

Amy: WTF Are you guys in some Apocalypto shit over there? What the hell are you doing? This is not Capoeira class
Torq: Amy it's a mosh pit, it's what the kids do these days Oh wait, it's not 1995

'Going, Going, Gone' was kind of a surprise as I didn't recognize it at first. It's been re-worked, think more synth. Someone threw a bottle at Torq during 'The Night Starts Here', resulting in him walking off stage mid song. He of course came back after taking a minute to collect himself. He was lucky it wasn't a wrench, like the one thrown at Matt Good a couple years ago. Incidentally, the latter was also on the receiving end of one of the former's subtle remarks. Despite all the shenanigans, the band was quite 'on' the entire night. Torq and their keyboardist even came out for an encore, as they still had some time left before curfew hit. I guess he felt guilty for losing it earlier. I was hoping they'd play 'Calendar Girl' instead.

Take Me to the Riot
Elevator Love Letter
Soft Revolution
Window Bird
One More Night
Ghost of Genoa
Bitches in Tokyo
Set Yourself on Fire
The Night Starts Here
Going, Going, Gone (reworked)
What I'm Trying to Say
My Favourite Book
Ageless Beauty
Your Ex-Lover is dead
Barricade (Torq and Keyboards only)

$20/0 I didn't pay anything, but the Stars + Wintersleep is worth at least 20. I still wish they had the backstage BBQ that they used to have.

photos: Adrian Burden

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Clouds - Party Grunge (8.15.2007)

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

04.06.2008 Black Mountain / Green Hour


In terms of Vancouver and psychedelic rock, there really is no one better than Black Mountain and their collective offshoot bands. Headed up by guitarist Stephen McBean, the Vancouver 5 piece normally has the vocal duties split between the aforementioned McBean and Amber Webber. Interestingly enough, 3 of the members work for Insite, an organization that aids the less fortunate residents of the Downtown Eastside. Tonight was the second night of back to back Vancouver shows; they played the Commodore the night before. Despite being an all ages show, the crowd was made up of mostly university aged kids and older.

The first act of the night was actually Black Mountain's merch guy (I forgot his name). Playing in front of a handful of attendees, he played with just a guitar and his voice. Even with the limited crowd you got the sense that he was pretty talented. At times his singing reminded of Mikael Ã…kerfeldt of Opeth, during the quieter songs. After 3 songs he left.


Vancouver's own Green Hour played next. Musically, they were quite proficient. Their vocals were didn't seem to fit to well with the music however. Their stage attire, 1960's hippie(?), was a little grating. I'm not even sure what to think of the psychedelic visuals they were using. Personally, I was never a big fan of the whole 1960-70's revival. It was almost pretentious.

Black Mountain ended the night. They began the set with the demure 'Night Walks' from their latest effort In the Future. Then quickly jump started the set with their single 'Stormy High'. The set was drew almost equally from their two releases. For the most part, the band was quite enthusiastic. Even having to replace their snare drum in between a song did not seem to phase them. Some songs such as 'No Hits' were drawn out, showcasing some of their more experimental side. A two song encore ended the night; 'No Satisfaction' and 'Don't Run'. Not a mind blowing performance, but very good by most standards.

Night Walks
Stormy High
13 Walls
Evil Ways
No Hits
No Satisfaction
Don't Run our Hearts around


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