Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Preview: Black Lips show moved to Rickshaw

After Vancouver beats Boston for the Stanley Cup on Wednesday, head down to the Rickshaw for the afterparty! Black Lips are playing, tickets are a still available, and I have a feeling this show is going to be insane!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Five Weekly Video Mix, Vol. 5

We're back with another episode of the best music videos we've found around the world this week! Check it, we found some really unique ones on this round.

5We start things off with Tom Vek, a multi-instrumentalist from the UK who dabbles in freakish experimental rock. Apparently he has a massive underground following over there. I should point out that Tom Vek is the presenter at the beginning, not the pulpishly sweet transvestite lip-syncing his vocals.

4Oh look! An “in the club” hip-hop video that actually has some fucking style! This is how they do it in Malaysia. Malaysian producers Goldfish and Blink bring the electro disco beats with Malaysian singer Ze! and Malaysian rapper Altimet on vocals. I'm hooked.


DJ Fresh drops a kick-ass skate video for his drum and bass track “Louder”, featuring Sian Evans. Not a new concept, obviously, but who doesn't love a good skate video? This one is fantastic, and it has a hell of a summer vibe.

2Damn, this video is a nightmare. I.R.O.K. shows us what would have happened if Rainbow Arabia had gone the low-budget stock footage route with their “Omar K” video. I'm not sure why, but I think Diplo should give this guy a call. I think it's because the song has kind of a jungle dancehall vibe, and when I watch the video, I think, “Nobody knows who this guy is, but he just singlehandedly made a video more awesome than all of Major Lazer's shit combined.”

1How do I describe this video without spoiling it? Let's just say, some may find it controversial, but I couldn't help laughing my ass off! It definitely goes bloody overboard a few times, but those were the parts that made me explode with laughter. Kids really are never as innocent as we think they are.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

80s Goth icons take over Vancouver!

Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance

Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins had just taken the stage when I arrived at the Venue nightclub for an ethereal night with some 80s icons. I have to be honest here. Robin's solo work is good, and I enjoy ambient music when I'm in the right mood, even when it lacks vocals, but it was utterly lifeless to see on a stage. There was nothing interesting about watching three old men standing motionless on a stage, playing downtempo, ambient new age music for a crowd of misfits from the 80s; ex-goth kids reminiscing and fooling themselves into cheering for their idol, but not his music. Every song would finish the same as the last, to the crowd's drunken shouts and overzealous applause. But then, for one brief moment, things turned around with a song that picked up the pace. Crashing drums and chaotic noises brought Robin's set to an unexpected climax, finally coaxing a roar of genuine cheers and applause from the audience. By this time, I had found a seat at the back of the venue, so at least I could kick back and relax for the last few songs.

Robin Guthrie - Warmed by the Winter Sun

Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance took the headlining spot, and the polar opposite direction from Robin's set. The five-piece band had an instant energy, playing synthy rock ballads with Perry's powerful voice at the helm. The guy looks like a tough biker, bald and in his 50s with a goatee, so when they opened with the still-unreleased track “Tree of Life”, I was a little shocked by the raw power of his voice, even in falsetto! If you don't know his voice, think Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen but with a gothic rock band playing world beats. It's been over a decade since the last albums by Brendan Perry and Dead Can Dance, so he spent the first half of the set playing a mix of songs from Dead Can Dance's library and several of his own unreleased songs that I assume he wrote in the years between his 1999 solo album and his new album, Ark. Remarkably, when I look at my notes that I marked for each song, it's the unreleased songs that really stood out in the first half, with the exception of Dead Can Dance's “A Passage in Time”, in which is a nice ballad on record, but lacks lustre when compared to Perry's powerful live rendition.

The second half of the set began with a new song, “Icarus”, followed by a fantastic cover, where Robin Guthrie joined the band, taking lead guitar for Tim Buckley's “Song to the Siren”. Finally, the band got on to playing some of the best tracks off the new album Ark, with “This Boy” and “Wintersun”, and closing with “Utopia”. The band left the stage to the most genuine cheers of the night thus far, returning for the inevitable encore of two more Dead Can Dance tracks.

Brendan Perry - Babylon

The tour is finished now, but check out Robin Guthrie's new album Emeralds and Brendan Perry's new album Ark, both out now!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Five Weekly Video Mix, Vol. 4

5Finnish duo LCMDF brings a cool retro-styled video for their synthy pop tune “Future Me”. No plot, just a seaside Polaroid adventure.

4Alex Winston braves a haunted cathouse in this video that starts off a little odd but quickly turns to freakishly bread-flying-out-of-a-toilet weird.

3The Sound of Arrows have earned themselves a reputation for melodramatic synthpop tunes and videos to match, but somehow they continuously straddle the line between campy and just awesome.

2Xuman's video for “Side by Side” is a dark and haunting narrative of a night at the museum, but not everything is as lifeless as it seems.

1The Supermen Lovers present one of the most kick-ass animated music videos I've ever seen. Two computer screens take a chance on love while they soar on an adventure through the clouds.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Foster the People serenades Vancouver at secret acoustic show

Foster the People plays to a sold-out crowd tonight at the Vancouver's much-too-small Venue Nightclub, but to warm things up, they just played a secret acoustic warm-up set this afternoon! The Peak announced the location this morning, so I rounded up some friends and we converged upon the closed-off street in front of The Peak's own headquarters at 8th and Helmock. Foster the People was hanging out at the station, poking their heads out a few times from the third-floor balcony, while getting ready for a chilled acoustic session.

We had almost two hours to kill, so we hung out on the sidewalk with the growing crowd of fans, radio staff and curious passersby. When the clock struck 1:00pm, the band was briefly introduced, and I looked around to see a massive crowd had formed, filling the street and sidewalks.

It's a warm Tuesday afternoon and there was just a bit of light rain as they began. The band asked, “Who skipped school to be here?” One half of the crowd cheered, and the other half roared when they asked, “And who's dodging work right now?”

The set was short and sweet, just an acoustic warm-up before tonight's show. They played their three big hits, “Houdini”, “Helena Beat” and of course, “Pumped Up Kicks”. They also slipped in “Color On the Walls”, a new one from the album that they introduced as a song for 4 year-olds. Frontman Mark Foster took the lead with his guitar, giving us warm acoustic renditions of songs that are usually led by keys and synths. There was a different kind of energy in the crowd, as we all watched a band we love, doing a different kind of performance than what we usually get to see.

It was an intimate serenade, from high upon the balcony to Vancouver on the street below. Afterwards, the band graciously came down to meet some fans and sign autographs, while The Peak staff gave away some tickets to tonight's show. Thanks to The Peak for kicking off our summer with a fantastic little block party!

Vancouver photographer Billy Bob Koruna was there this afternoon, shooting for us. He sweet-talked his way up to the balcony during the set and was the only photographer to get a few quick shots up close.

The street had to be shut down for the large crowd that showed up for the secret show.

Vancouver musician and actor Kaboom Atomic enjoying the show.

Foster the People's frontman, Mark Foster.

Cubbie Fink, bassist.

Mark Pontius, drummer.

Foster and Fink.

Signing autographs and meeting the fans

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A night of haunting dreams at the Vogue Theatre with Lykke Li

Lykke Li
Grimes started the show with her solo act, a beautiful mess of raw synthesizers over crushing drum tracks. She has only been making music for a few short years, and has no training in musical theory or even reading music, so the way she expresses herself in her music sounds unnatural, and yet she's quite a natural at it. She began her set with “Crystal Ball”, feeling out the crowd; her nervousness showing with a few missteps in the timing of the tracks she was mixing together. By the time she got through the second and third songs, she had pulled it all together and the crowd was on her wavelength, dancing to her dark electro beats and basking in the glow of her ethereal vocals. It was like a gothic dance version of Enya. No, I'm kidding; I kept thinking that and then giggling because technically it's an accurate description, but it sounds fucking ridiculous. Grimes killed it. I didn't think many people knew her, but she is a born-and-raised Vancouver girl, and damn, did Vancouver show her love tonight! I don't know if it's the venue or if it's the bands they host, but the opening acts seem to get a lot more love at the Vogue than they do at other venues.

Grimes - Vanessa (YSI)

The lights went dark, and the sound of drums began to pound over ghastly drones, like a new age circus horror show. Flickering bursts from the strobe lights began to illuminate a dozen narrow curtains dangling from the ceiling, which were billowing wildly like trees in a pitch-black thunderstorm. A thick stream of endless smoke rolled over the stage and through the crowd, when suddenly everything screeched to a halt. The lights came on and Lykke Li was already into the first verse of “Jerome”, a creepy-sounding but warm and tingly track off her new album, an unexpected but perfect complement to the startling introduction.

The band all wore black suits, with Lykke wearing a black bodysuit and a long black coat. They powered through what seemed like hit after epic hit, though some were songs off the new album that not many people knew yet. A few songs in, they did a beautiful cover that I recognised instantly. I noticed I was singing along with every word, but it took a second before it hit me; it was “Velvet”, a stunningly gorgeous song by UK dream pop band The Big Pink, whom I actually saw here in Vancouver last year.

There were so many highlights in Lykke Li's set, and most of them, surprisingly, weren't even the popular tunes off her first album. “We will live longer than I will. We will be better than I was. We can cross rivers with our will. We can do better than I can. So dance while you can.” That is the soothing and sublime chorus of “Love Out of Lust”, which the band turned into one hell of an epic ballad. A few songs before that, Lykke finally got her hands on an instrument, when the lights came on to reveal an autoharp on a platform in front of her, which she used to accentuate the usually unplugged acoustic song, “I Know Places”. It's really simple: just push the button for the chord you want and then sweep a finger across the strings, but it gave the song such a radiant sound!

Nearing the end of the set, Lykke took a short break while the band played an instrumental excerpt from The Knife's “Silent Shout”, another one I instantly recognised, but embarassingly didn't figure out til later. It felt quite out of place, and sounded nothing like the rest of her set, but I really can't complain when it's such an awesome song. They changed it up a bit, making it grow more chaotic than the original. Finally, they closed with Lykke introducing “Get Some” as a party song to dance to, as if we weren't already an hour into our dance party with her! The song definitely has a funkier drum beat than the rest of her catalogue. And that was the last piece of Lykke Li's perfect setlist formula: end it with a fucking BANG!

Oh yes, there was definitely an encore, but I think I've already been quite thorough, so we'll leave that as a surprise, in case you get a chance to see Lykke Li soon. She has a half dozen more US gigs left before doing what all respectable European musicians do in summer: hit up all the massive Euro festivals that we're all so jealous of here in North America!

Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers (YSI)
Lykke Li - Get Some (YSI)

Lykke Li is promoting her sophomore album Wounded Rhymes. Grimes is promoting her 2010 debut Halfaxa and her new split LP Darkbloom, with d'Eon.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Five Weekly Video Mix, Vol. 3

5The Gift shows us their take on the classic let's-run-away-together-and-fuck-shit-up storyline. I really like this one, but I would have done the same thing he did at the end of the video, if she kept insisting on wearing that black wig.

4Afrobeta can pick up the slack that Frankmusik has left in the electroclash scene. Peaches' leotards, glamourized Hyper Crush-style, with a tinge of that glitchy electro sound from Eastern Europe that we stumble upon occasionally (see Bed√ľk), and the girl is just good enough at rapping and yelling that she leans more toward catchy than ridiculous.

3Patrick Wolf is famous for calling Mika a ‘twat’ in 2007, and for his subsequent appearance on the British panel quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks, but he also happens to be a fantastic genre-defying musician. He lives in a magical rainforest that grows inside his own home, as seen in the following video. Here is an excited red star, to draw more attention to how great this video is. ★!

2If you haven't seen this, you probably live under a rock, in Saskatchewan, AND in space. His name is Tyler, The Creator, and he's Pitchfork's latest shock rap sensation. The thing with shock rap and other shock entertainment, is that legions of posers fail at it, but among them are a few mad geniuses. Tyler is one of those deranged masters of things that offend, disgust and insult the soft-skinned people who charge the outcries that, ironically, make shock rock and shock rap successful.

1It feels wrong to say anything funny or sarcastic about Monarchy's new video. It's just too awesome. It's like when people joke about how slow motion makes things melodramatic, when really, they usually just make things actually dramatic. I really don't get the cupcakes, though, but even they add to the enigma of this video.