Real Live Action

Gentle Party1

Gentle Party

w/ Moondle

author
Lucas Lund
photography
Hildegard Daug

Arriving at the show, I was met by a wall of swords. While it was far from a conventional venue, Academie Duello — Vancouver’s School of Modern Swordplay — perfectly set the atmosphere for Gentle Party’s album release. The spacious studio, normally reserved for various styles of medieval combat instruction, was instead filled with small groups of people softly chatting among the racks of blades that surrounded the dimly lit room.

Gentle Party2
Gentle Party||Photography by Hildegard Daug for Discorder Magazine
Gentle Party3
Gentle Party||Photography by Hildegard Daug for Discorder Magazine

As I studied the assortment of crests adorning the brick walls of the space, and the conversations continued humming behind me, Gentle Party quietly slippedonto the stage, readied their instruments and let loose a single, powerful chord. It swept across the room and snapped the crowd to attention. Almost instantly the audience sank to the wooden floor, sitting enraptured by the quartet. Despite it being their own release show, Gentle Party showed no hesitation in performing first.

Harpist Elisa Thorn, violinist Meredith Bates, cellist Shanto Acharia, and vocalist Jessicka serenely moved through selections of their debut album, Jouska, mixing elements of chamber music, jazz and musique concrète, among other styles. Between the staccato pop of “Trophies” and the impressionistic instrumental “Boy Children,” the intricacy and subtlety of their music united their performance and demanded close attention.

As the set went on, I found myself drawn to the oxymoronic phrase “modern swordplay” as an apt metaphor for the music Gentle Party created. By incorporating recorded soundscapes and slight electronic manipulations into their seemingly antiquated instrumentation, they blended the old with the new. Both the band and the space were suspended in time, pinned down to no singular era.

Moondle1
Moondle||Photography by Hildegard Daug for Discorder Magazine

Moondle — the would-be opener for the night — took to the stage after a brief intermission. With a slightly more conventional set up (vocals, two guitars, bass, and drums), Moondle continued where Gentle Party left off in combining disparate genres with incredible technique and musicianship. Emma Postl’s voice effortlessly spread across jazz-influenced melodies, as Eli Davidovici’s bass lines grounded the quintet; Thomas Hoeller and Cary Campbell’s guitar parts were passed back and forth, both defining the atmosphere of each song, and elaborating upon it; Mili Hong’s drumming was near virtuosic.

Moondle2
Moondle||Photography by Hildegard Daug for Discorder Magazine

Unfortunately, Moondle suffered from the all too common problem of having the guitars far too loud. As is the case with many guitar based bands, the two guitars overpowered the other instruments and muddied the overall mix. Especially in the swordplay studio, with an impressively attentive crowd, there was no need to have the guitars at such an attention grabbing volume.

As I stepped out onto the street after the show, it felt like I had stepped out of a time machine back into the present. I’m not sure where or when I had just come from, but it sure had sounded good.

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Moondle||Photography by Hildegard Daug for Discorder Magazine

 

Rae Spoon3
author
Andrew Smith
photography
Lucas Lund

If you’re anything like me, in simplest terms, you go to a concert to experience your favourite mildly loud music from your favourite artists as loud as physically possible without rupturing an eardrum. Thankfully, my trip to the WISE Hall to see Rae Spoon and Carole Pope was to be no danger to my hearing.

Rae Spoon1
Rae Spoon||Photography by Lucas Lund for Discorder Magazine

Dubbed by Rae Spoon as “The Rae and Carole Variety Hour,” the concert saw the two split their set lists in half and alternate every six songs. Rae gently swept into “Lighthouse,” which slowly broke through the chatter and gave a lovely kickstart to the night. Another song later and Rae invited us into “a little sing-along,” which, long story short, created a room full of people singing “Do whatever the fuck you want,” — an experience that was easily worth the price of admission alone. “Any metal bands who want to use this song can just have it,” Rae says, referencing “The Beast Is Me,” the penultimate song of the first half of their set-list. This light jab, while at their own expense, highlighted the charm that Rae exudes on-stage, making quick witted remarks about gender politics, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and their own experiences with fellow musicians across the country.

Without much delay, Carole Pope and her accompanying guitar player, David Taylor took the stage, and it became clear that most of the audience was there to see Carole. Taylor cranked up the gain and filled the hall with noise and applause from a ready-to-rock crowd.

Carole Pope1
Carole Pope||Photography by Lucas Lund for Discorder Magazine

I must say in advance that I listen to several albums of any musical artist before I go to their concert to get an idea of what type of music to expect. While it was fun to recognize some of my favourites such as “Francis Bacon,” “Lesbians in the Forest,” and “My Flame,” her live performance didn’t make me feel like I gained anything from coming to a live performance of the album material I grew to really enjoy over the weeks prior. The material performed during both halves of Carole’s set demanded a drummer above all else — without a driving force behind the songs, her performance unfortunately felt more like karaoke night at the bar more than a paid concert.

Carole Pope2
Carole Pope||Photography by Lucas Lund for Discorder Magazine

How delightful it was for me then that Rae Spoon’s performance exceeded and built upon the original studio-recorded material, especially during the second half of the performance. The second half of their set drove head first into bellowing electronica that got the concert hall shaking, a strong increase in tempo from the more soft-rock inspired first half. Their performance made me see the value in coming to see a live performance of the album material that I had grown to enjoy in the weeks prior to the concert. Rae’s voice enveloped the audience in a dreamlike defiance of the sexual constraints that I feel comfortable in saying that many people in the room had experienced at least once in their lives before. It was the type of subtle rebellion that is refreshing in the vast ocean of name-calling and shouting matches that populates much of social politics today.

While rather disappointing on Carole’s part, Rae stole the show. Their duet together at the end of the show was a pleasant surprise, however —  their voices work impressively well together. But don’t let a few paragraphs written by somebody you don’t know influence your ticket-purchasing habits. In the words of Rae Spoon: “Do whatever the fuck you want.”

Rae Spoon4
Rae Spoon||Photography by Lucas Lund for Discorder Magazine