Walking through downtown Vancouver on a miserable, rainy Monday brings me to the sanctuary of the Media Club. Entering this rectangular room, only the Persian rugs and gold framed mirrors leave a decorative impression. Mostly there seems to be a lot of open space to shrug at (and not enough tables or chairs). I do however quickly start to consider an intention behind this aesthetic; perhaps to provide the live acts with the freedom to impress their own personality onto the place; to let their sound clutter the walls and pattern the seats. And soon it does.
Lead singer/guitarist Jennifer Clavin is the first thing I notice as Los Angeles-based Bleached begins their set. Sporting velveteen pants and a muted orange shirt, she seems effortlessly cool standing front and centre on stage. Accompanied by her sister Jessica, both girls strum black and white guitars as they deliver danceable garage rock to the audience.
Formerly known as Mika Miko, this duo, combined with their current bassist and drummer, move their music forward with a catchy consistency. Playing their well-reviewed single “Electric Chair” third in the set, Bleached demonstrates the effectiveness of letting their simple lyrics float over fuzzy guitar weaving. Next they play the bouncy tune “Think of You” with its charming “ooh ooh” pulse, transitioning soon after into the catchy favourite, “Searching Through the Past.” Ending their set with “Ain’t No Friend of Mine,” Jennifer’s vocals demonstrate an energetic pitch control, which adds character to the band’s grungy noisescape. Not relying much on instrumental buildups or melodic changes, Bleached’s success comes mostly from their “less is more” edge; decorating the venue with an accessibly cool rock ‘n’ roll sound.
As headlining band Veronica Falls get on stage next, it’s immediately apparent that they’re a far more complex band than the openers. That’s not necessarily meant as a criticism of Bleached, but more as a comment on style. With the combined talents of Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare on vocals/guitar, Marion Herbain on bass, and Patrick Doyle on drums, Veronica Falls presents a melodic ghost chase.
Their sound is an alliance of tempo shifts. It relies on the coordinated back and forth between the drums and the guitars with the collaboration of their signature girl/boy vocals. As their set builds, there is a noticeable clarity to each tune. Every note is audible, moving in pattern and collecting to accumulate in a larger sound. With their first few songs, the band establishes a kind of dead-pan grooviness, which may be considered at least partially the product of their dark lyrical content.
Indeed, playing some of their hits like “Bad Feeling” and “Found Love in a Graveyard,” Veronica Falls reminds everyone that their foot tapping and head bobbing is to the tune of something rather sinister. Ultimately though, they communicate an overall dreamy charm, with their pseudo surfer-chant vocals and reverb-rich guitars.
And with the show coming to a close, the encore played by Veronica Falls seemed very ornate; a final coat of paint to colour this previously plain venue.