Real Live Action

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Downtown Boys

w/ Lié, Tugh Customer

Words + Photography
Lauren Ray

I hadn’t spent time with two old friends of mine in months — we got caught up drinking a ten-dollar bottle of wine and laughing it up like a bunch of wild women before realizing we were late for Tough Customer’s set. We hustled as swiftly as possible to the show.

Sadly, we missed their set. I asked a few people who were lucky enough to catch their cheeky, energetic act (that I have seen from past shows) and all could agree it was “fun” or “cool” or “good. Sucks you missed it.”

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Lié||Photography by Lauren Ray for Discorder Magazine

It had been too long since seeing a show at the Fox, a real dazzling venue that makes me feel like I have been transported to the ‘80s (although I wouldn’t have wanted to be there at that time — yikes!). Shortly after we arrived, Lié took the stage and everybody was ready to pay close attention. All of their serious faces were illuminated in the dark red lighting as they started to play and didn’t really stop. Their set was pulsing and vigorous as they unapologetically slayed one song after the next. The crowd could not help but gravitate towards the stage, close but not moving very much, paralyzed by Lié’s powerful presence.

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Downtown Boys||Photography by Lauren Ray for Discorder Magazine

Downtown Boys arrived on stage and they immediately jumped into a wild, upbeat set that got everybody feeling jazzed — especially with that saxophone! I know it’s a cliché comparison but it reminded me of my tender teenage years when I was so stoked on X-Ray Spex — the excitement had not fizzled.

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Downtown Boys||Photography by Lauren Ray for Discorder Magazine

Amidst the flurry of spritely and sassy music, lead singer Victoria Ruiz prefaced each song in detail, addressing issues that every person in the audience has likely experienced to some degree. She asked “Who taught you to hate yourself?” and it really stuck with me, especially because social anxiety can be very much heightened in a show setting. For a moment, it broke down a wall, almost cleared the air. Right after, they played a song by the same name: “The Wall,” in which she talked about the white supremacy within our Western culture in regards to immigration, specifically Mexican immigration..

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Downtown Boys||Photography by Lauren Ray for Discorder Magazine

Ruiz sang many songs in Spanish and although I didn’t know what she was saying, her passion was evident. She spoke about reclaiming space and not being afraid to be exactly who you are. To be honest, I shed a tear listening to what she had to say, but as soon as the band started up again, I danced around with my friends like the uninhibited rascals we are. That contrast in itself summarizes the experience I had while watching Downtown Boys.

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Tennyson

w/ I M U R

author
Graham Matheson
photography
Peter Hawkins

It’s not often that you get to be among the first to hear a whole score of brand new tracks being performed to the public for the very first time. It’s a kind of levelling experience where the performers get a taste of the audience’s experience and vice versa — you’re all hearing these songs being played live for the first time. On Monday, September 18, Edmonton jazz-electronica duo Tennyson shared that experience with Vancouver.

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I M U R||Photography by Peter Hawkins for Discorder Magazine

The night’s entertainment, hosted at the Fox Cabaret, began with East Vancouver’s very own I M U R. Pronounced “I am you are,” this group has existed in it’s current state for just over a year, with violinist / bassist Amine Bouzaher having played his first show with the group little over one year ago at none other than the Fox Cabaret. The trio’s humour shined through in their performance with songs like “Fighting, Fucking, Loving” bringing forth a knowing smile from lead singer Jenny Lea.

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I M U R||Photography by Peter Hawkins for Discorder Magazine

I had the pleasure of by chance sitting next to guitarist Mikey J Blige’s parents during the performance. “Sorry, proud father moment,” his dad leaned over to say to me after hollering applause towards his son following a technical guitar solo. With songs that would find their place in a Bond film just as naturally as in the ‘90s R&B tradition, this three-piece make for a seriously smooth performance.

The brother-sister duo Luke Tennyson and Tess Pretty, known collectively as Tennyson, hit the stage with an air of anticipation. Coming off of a period of relatively few performances, they had a brand new set list full of songs from their soon-to-be released EP, Uh Oh!, one of which they had only played together for the first time that very same day. “That was a rush,” Tess said from behind the drums after successfully completing the song, just before leaning over to give her older brother a high-five.

It still beggars belief that a pair so young can bring such rhythmic technicality, originality and full-body performance to the stage. The sound design, from the unconventional percussion to the high-pitched joyful synth, speaks to a creativity that knows few bounds or limitations. I never would have thought you could get people dancing to the sound of a digital alarm clock or the sound a car makes when the door is open with the keys still in the ignition. They played “Smother” and “SLIPPERZ,” favourites from their previous releases, before the pair closed things off with yet another never-before-heard song.

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Tennyson||Photography by Peter Hawkins for Discorder Magazine

Tennyson showed a lot of maturity as performers and accomplished a level of showmanship that many fail to attain throughout their entire careers — they weren’t afraid to invite people into their experience. This openness, alongside their obvious expertise as musicians, made it clear that these two have a lot of time and space to grow to become highly influential artists. It’s hard not to be proud of them.