Real Live Action

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Thundercat

w/ V. Vecker

author
Lary Shelmal
photography
Sydney Thorne

After dropping the single “Show You the Way” — a track that somehow remains cool while featuring both Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald — from his forthcoming record Drunk, Thundercat took to the Rickshaw to play the fourth show of a lengthy world tour. Vancouver seems to have treated Thundercat well over the years, as he was very vocal about how much he enjoys it up here. It must be a West Coast thing.

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V. Vecker||Photography by Sydney Thorne for Discorder Magazine

Opener and Vancouver native V. Vecker set the tone early with a collection of ethereal saxophone drones and ambient jazz pieces. A stark contrast to the headliner, it was the perfect way to start the night. Mysterious modal sax melodies echoed around the cavernous theatre and slowly built anticipation. Triggered drums and synths joined in occasionally, complementing the delay and reverb saturated horns. It was easy to close your eyes and get lost in the layers and textures, noticing each new addition as it became less transparent.

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Thundercat||Photography by Sydney Thorne for Discorder Magazine

The Rickshaw was sold out, and it was filled to the brim when Thundercat took the stage. Stephen Bruner, the supernatural bass player, was joined by his usual line-up of Justin Brown on drums and Dennis Hamm on keys. These guys absolutely destroyed for an hour and a half, non-stop. The skill and stamina apparent here was not lost on the crowd, as I overheard at least half a dozen people mention Justin Brown’s drumming alone — and it was truly something to behold. Dennis Hamm provided all the necessary lead synth lines and some impressive solos of his own. Of course, Thundercat’s now legendary style of six-string bass playing combined with his pop sensibility is what everyone was there to see, but they were a trio of elite players together and they all deserve credit.

They relentlessly pushed out Thundercat’s unique brand of jazz fusion with only a few quips to the audience here and there. The set was definitely full of crowd pleasers, hitting all the big tracks from 2013’s Apocalypse and 2015’s The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam, then filling it out with new material. A slammin’ rendition of “Them Changes” was one of the night’s highlights, as well as “Heartbreaks + Setbacks,” both among the numerous extended jams and solos.

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Thundercat||Photography by Sydney Thorne for Discorder Magazine

“This song’s called Friend Zone, anyone been there?” Thundercat asked, before crying out “Fuck the friend zone!” and launching into a cut from the new record.

After leaving most of the venue devastated from the onslaught of auditory bliss and the clinic in immaculate musicianship on display by this band, they returned for one last song: a clean and shiny performance of “Oh Sheit It’s X” which served as an apt farewell to the diverse crowd present at the Rickshaw. “I just wanna party / You should be here with me” are lyrics both the music nerds and the party crowd could get behind.

To be honest, this review could have simply read: “Thundercat: the infallible jazz cat.”

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Thundercat||Photography by Sydney Thorne for Discorder Magazine
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Selectors’ Presents:

w/ C. Diab, Medina/Walsh, V. Vecker

author
Faur Tuuenty
Image Courtesy of
Medina/Walsh

On February 18, at Selectors’ Records, Vancouver based C. Diab and V. Vecker, and Seattle based Medina/Walsh filled the store with their ambient, textural, and droning soundscapes.

The crowd slowly gathered into Selectors’ Records, located on the corner of Pender and Carrall Street, with ceiling to floor windows on the north and west corners of the store, letting in the colourful neon glow of the two Jack Chow Insurance buildings across the street. There were some chairs to sit on, but most of the crowd huddled together on the floor, clutching their knees, or sitting cross-legged with a beer in hand.

Diab nonchalantly approached his chair and prepared his bow with a shiny black cake of rosin. As the crowd began to notice C. Diab’s pre-performance ritual, the room started to get quiet. As he began tuning his guitar, C. Diab said,“Anyone know a good joke?” This was met with silence, followed by some (uncomfortable) laughter.

The set began with some gentle harmonics on the guitar that were then made into a looped bed. The most striking moment of this performance, was when C. Diab picked up his guitar and placed it in between his legs like a cellist, and with majestic proficiency, he began to play with a massive, distorted, delayed, and reverberant sound. He created melodic loops then improvised a melody over top. Diab executed this compositional formula for most of the set, even when he picked up a beat-up old trumpet with a thoroughly dented bell. What I craved from C. Diab, sonically, was some more textural and non-melodic sound, perhaps some more sul ponticello bowing for some added sonic dirt. My favourite moment was when he droned a very low open string on his bowed guitar, and played a pseudo raga. This moment felt liberating, getting lost in the wonderful drone. He even made a nice breath sound in the trumpet, but not to add to the music, only to clean the trumpet. I thought that breath could have added another dynamic layer to C. Diab’s sound.

Medina/Walsh were up next. The duo had a guitarist with a well-equipped pedal board, complete with lights flashing on and off; and there was another performer processing sounds on a laptop covered up with a blanket. The set was spectrally balanced in a very nice way — low sub frequencies to piercingly high frequencies. The duo beautifully took clear and melodic notes from the guitar, and gently blurred their sharp sonic image. Creating wonderfully grainy, and textural, aural images, Medina/Walsh left enough space for one to become lost in.

To cap off the night, V. Vecker hit up the stage with a keyboard, alto-saxophone, and a string of pedals attached to both instruments to sculpt his sonic landscape. It was a solid set that once again had some melodic and harmonic loops, and almost soul-like saxophone over massive frequency drones. I also craved a little more textural focus from the saxophone instead of getting an abundance of melodic material, but the constant looping of these melodies eventually fell onto themselves and created a sound that was simultaneously lovely and ominous.

When the performance finished, the night felt quite silent after being immersed in dense, complicated, sonic textures. If I listen carefully, I can still recall some of the vibrations in my body.