Sunday, November 21, 2010

Biltmore Double Feature: Diamond Rings and Bonjay

Some bands sound good, albeit toned down, when you hear them on record. Then you go see them live and you're absolutely blown away by their energy and their immense stage presence. I have a strange habit of finding bands likes this. First there was The Bloody Beetroots show a few weeks ago, which the most explosive electronic show I've seen since Massive Attack. Then last week I saw Mayer Hawthorne, who sounds soulfully mellow on record, but puts on a show that induces an earthquake of nonstop dancing madness.

Tonight was double feature night at The Biltmore. Two separate shows, with Diamond Rings and a slew of opening acts taking the early show, followed by Bonjay for the late-night dance party.

During the opening acts, what really hit me hard was the driving electro sound of Vancouver's own Humans. I haven't found the one song I really liked that he sang about his shoes, but I'm listening to their album right now and I found another one. Avec Mes Mecs is their new album and the title track has my stamp of approval.

Humans - Avec Mes Mecs (YSI)

Diamond Rings has it all: a glamorous image, a riveting stage presence and a way of making his live music sound even bigger and better than the record. Between opening acts I was actually reading an article about him in the local Beatroute mag. John O'Regan's colourful new project had rather humble beginnings. He was hospitalized with Crohn's disease in the summer of 2008, but once he was recovering, he brought in his acoustic guitar and little Casio keyboards to write music. By the end of his hospital stay, he had the nurses coming in on their breaks and he would play for them.

He took the stage, instantly heating up the crowd with his scorching electro beats and his low-range indie rock voice. He sounds like a less-gloomy Matt Berninger, the frontman from The National. And he can dance! He was all over the stage, which had a mic for him on each side, one with his table of beat machines and one with his electric guitar. His shirt came off within a few songs (I still don't believe that The Biltmore actually installed air conditioning) and he showed off an elaborate necklace that his friend crafted for him from, in his words, at least five organic free-range unicorns. It seems that Diamond Rings has taken a lesson from fellow Toronto glam electro artist Peaches. Image is everything and extravagance is essential when it comes to live electronic music.

Diamond Rings got cut off at 11pm, after what seemed like a very short set. The crowd definitely wanted more, but there was nothing he could do about The Biltmore's "curfew". The stupid thing is, the next act, Bonjay, still didn't go on til after midnight.

Diamond Rings - All Yr Songs (YSI)
Diamond Rings - It's Not My Party (YSI)

After Diamond Rings, I left to find some late-night pizza. When I returned, there was a huge lineup of people waiting to join the Bonjay dance party. Luckily I had already been stamped, so I skipped the line and went inside. Bonjay started with that awesome song I already knew, “Stumble”, which is technically dancehall but is seriously sidetracked into experimental territory. It's like an atomic collision between Major Lazer, Animal Collective and maybe Rainbow Arabia.

A few songs later, they covered Caribou's “Jamelia”, which I didn't really take to when it made its rounds through the blogs, but Bonjay's Alana Stuart sang this one with so much intensity that I'm going to have to give it another run in my playlist. Next up was my favourite, “Frawdulent” which had a massive breakdown that doesn't appear in the recording. Their set felt a bit short as well, but Bonjay has only released on EP so far, so they had actually exhausted all their material.

Bonjay - Stumble (YSI)
Bonjay - Frawdulent (YSI)

Next up for Bonjay is Calgary on the 24th, as they head east across Canada for 6 more dates, then a couple US shows. Their debut EP Broughtupsy is out now on Mysteries of Trade.

Diamond Rings heads south for 11 US dates, starting on the 23rd in Los Angeles. His debut album Special Affections is out now on Secret City.


Designer Engagement Rings said...

Nice Blog

Post a Comment