CMW Night 3: Music BC, Young Lions Music Club & More

Friday, March 23, 2012 – 8:00PM @ Rancho Relaxo (Two Way Monologues & The Indie Machine)

Starting their set with the lights dimmed low, first came the pounding of the drum, and clapping of this five-piece’s hands before the melody swelled with the addition of keys and violin. There is a depth and darkness to Toronto band’s sound, supplemented with the richness of frontman Nate Daniel’s voice. Even what at first may appear to be a simple “boy and his guitar” song, the delicately intricate arrangements and sweeping violin take what would be a good song and transform it into a work of art. It’s music that moves you.

They had a great turnout for their early show time and I’m not surprised; their live show is one you don’t want to miss. I’m not sure why it took so long for this band to get on my radar, especially when they come so highly lauded by The Indie Machine, but I’m glad that they are now!

If you missed them during CMW, will be playing Nu Music Nite at the Horseshoe on April 3. They start the night off at 9:10pm, so be sure to get there early. You can also listen to their EP Young Love here. I’m really digging “All These Colours.” | CD

Portage and Main – 8:00PM @ The Rivoli (Music BC)

Vancouver’s Portage and Main named their band after the coldest intersection in Canada, which any good Canadian should already know. But the feeling that comes with watching Portage and Main on stage is anything but cold. Their rootsy folk rock, led by Harold Donnelly (guitar, banjo) and John Sponarski (guitar, harmonica), carries a bit of an emotional twang to it, complete with banjo and a southern feel on guitar. I walked in a few songs into their early set at The Rivoli, but there were already a handful of people standing right up front and many more scattered through the backroom of The Rivoli, setting the tone for what was set to be a great Music BC showcase.

Portage and Main have their self-titled album, released in March 2011, available to stream (and purchase) on their Bandcamp. | CL

Portage and Main @ The Rivoli, 23-03-12 Portage and Main @ The Rivoli, 23-03-12 Portage and Main @ The Rivoli, 23-03-12

Cousin – 9:00PM @ Sneaky Dee’s (Young Lions Music Club)

A young band out of Niagara Falls, Cousin took the stage to a still relatively sparse Sneaky Dee’s. They did however have quite a contingent of friends that had made the trip out who filled the space up front. With a great 90’s slacker/basementy-rock sound, the comparisons they consistently get to Pavement are well deserved. The dual vocals shared by guitarists Giulio Rocco and Taylor Page work to their advantage, and the appearance of horns provided by The Crosswells is always a happy addition. Favourite track of their set is still “Mountain Slip” which was featured on the IndoorShoes Adopted Friends Volume 2 compilation and first introduced me to this band.

They had a few minor mishaps with guitar straps breaking, but played through it like pros, and demonstrated the benefit of always carrying duct tape with you. Drummer Adam Slinn was able to provide drum interludes to fill the otherwise empty air. Cousin may still be pretty young, but the talent is there. With a fresh new CD in tow, this is a band you want to keep your eyes – and ears – on. And with Josh Korody having recorded their album, you know it’s worth your time and attention. | CD

In Medias Res – 10:00PM @ Sneaky Dee’s (Young Lions Music Club)

“In medias res” refers to “the literary and artistic narrative technique wherein the relation of a story begins either at the mid-point or at the conclusion, rather than at the beginning…to open the story with dramatic action” (thanks Wikipedia!). After experiencing Vancouver band In Media Res for the first time at Sneaky Dee’s on Friday, I’d say that’s a pretty apt description. With an experimentally ambient electro sound, they were one of the most unique bands I’ve ever seen. Their music was all-consuming and seemed to take over each member on stage; the guitarist was insanely flailing about for almost the entirety of the set, even losing his glasses at one point.

At one point frontman Andrew Lee was playing pedal steel, but citing it as being “more like playing a gigantic sewing machine,” he switched to guitar. Whether on pedal steel or guitar, every song was nothing short of epic. While In Media Res has been around for over a decade, if you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, do it. Now. | CD

Current Swell – 11:00PM @ The Rivoli (Music BC)

From Sneaky Dee’s I headed over to the Rivoli for the Music BC Showcase. There are so many great smaller acts out of this province that just never tour east of the Prairies often enough. By the time I made it there, Current Swell were getting ready to take the stage and the party was in full swing. Winners of the Peak Performance Project, their rootsy folk sound and hippie hair seem to be the very embodiment of all the best things about British Columbia. While their record Long Time Ago follows that, with a laid-back folky feel to it, their stage show is anything but. With harmonica, lap steel, and songs dripping with a greasy twang, they had the rowdy crowd on their feet, especially during “I Want a Bird,” which had everyone singing along.

The highlight of their set came when singer Scott Stanton announced that they were going to take it down a couple notches and if the crowd would please settle down for the quiet “Brad’s Song,” dedicated to their friend Brad who had passed away. An immediate hush came over the the venue, as everyone took in the emotionally charged moment, swaying to the music with lighters in hand. It was truly a “magic gig moment,” and one I felt honoured to be a part of. They then gave the crowd what they were so patiently waiting for with another raucous party tune that brought their set to an end with Stanton spinning in circles and the audience drunk off the energy of their performance. | CD

Maurice – 12:00AM @ The Rivoli (Music BC)

Maurice is Jean-Paul Maurice from Victoria, BC, however on this night he was backed by a full band. This was the one band on the bill I was relatively unfamiliar with coming into the night. Playing songs off his second release Into the Sea, I was pleasantly surprised with the pretty folk-pop sound and guy/girl dual vocals. Add in a fiddle, and I was sold. “There’s Nothing Like a Good Feeling” was light and happy and “All I Ever Wanted” was playful with a delightfully catchy chorus.

A definite highlight of the set was their folky cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” which had a medley of current dance songs stealthily thrown into the middle of it, including Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5. It was so unexpected and the transitions between songs melded together perfectly before they went back into “Dreams.” | CD

Acres of Lions – 1:00AM @ The Rivoli (Music BC)

Playing emotional pop rock, Acres of Lions took the stage to a packed Rivoli. In true Acres of Lions fashion, they promised to turn their entire set into one big sing-along. And that’s exactly what they did. Starting with “Kids,” they hammered out a set filled with hits off their latest release Collections that literally had the entire venue participating, even bringing out fellow BC’er Lindsay Bryan to help out on “Reaction.”

Showing off their softer side were “Forgive and Forget” that always has me thinking it’s a JImmy Eat World cover, so close are Jeff Kalesnikoff’s vocals, as well as “Perfect Day,” quite possibly the saddest love song, that had Kalesnikoff on his own. Title track “Collections” ended with band and crowd coordinated hand claps, foot stomps and acapella chanting. There was an incredible electric connection between the band and the crowd, you could just feel that their songs mean something to the audience. It also may have helped that there were so many bands and friends from BC there to make the night extra-special. Thank you Acres of Lions for being exactly what I needed to revive my aching legs at 1am! | CD

The British Columbians – 2:00AM @ The Rivoli (Music BC)

Hailing from Vancouver, BC, four-piece The British Columbians closed out the night. I’d been listening to their album Made For Darker Things for awhile and was looking forward the chance to check them out live. The band plays bluesy rock and roll and there is a certain Black Keys-esque sound to Girard Knox’s vocals, which is what first attracted me to them.

They brought the rock to their late night set. Unfortunately much of the crowd had dispersed at this point, missing out on the chance to check out this band while they are still somehow relatively unknown. It was however a great end to what was a day of 14 hours of almost non-stop shows for me. | CD

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Categories: Canadian Music Week 2012, Live Music


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