Real Live Action

Clues, Animal Names


Biltmore Cabaret; March 5, 2009

Jackie Wong

There’s something refreshingly old-fashioned about going to a show knowing next to nothing about the band onstage. In this era of BitTorrent incontinence and Twitterberry updates, the compulsion to access music in its embryonic, pre-release state is strong and almost always rewarded. But Clues has wisely stayed away from hyping themselves on MySpace or creating a legion of Facebook fans to anticipate the release of long-awaited recorded material.

Sprung from the loins of ex-Unicorn Alden Penner and former Arcade Firecracker Brendan Reed, Clues formed two years ago and has since remained in relative obscurity until hitting the road last November. Lucky for us, Penner, Reed and some pals from Montreal descended upon the Biltmore on an unseasonably cold March evening, and proceeded to unwrap our thick winter layers with a curiously haunting indie pop performance that reminded everyone why the fantastical spirit of the late, lamented Unicorns was so exciting and so rare. The experience compelled one enthusiastic soul to dance rapidly and aggressively under a baby-blue afghan blanket for most of the show, and I unintentionally showed my age and relative lameness by backing (okay, running) away from Blanket Dancer instead of diving into the crowded fury he created near the front of the stage. But the audience—mostly young Unicorns fans, mostly resembling a member of the Klaxons on some level—ate it up and, much to the band’s delight, responded with loud boos when collectively asked if they were excited about the Olympics.

Local openers Animal Names might have something to say about that too, but their Death-Cab-lands-at-YVR sound hinted at a gentleness of heart that would likely shy away from capitalizing on a crowd worked into a frothy, anti-Quatchi frenzy. All the better, then, to leave the job to the headliners, whose brief Vancouver visit leaves much to be excited about when their self-titled debut album arrives in May.