For a while, it looked like this show might not happen at all, and that, my friends, would have been a shame. Originally slated for East Van’s Di’Metric Studios (a venue that by some accounts holds about 80 people), the show was actually cancelled at one point. A last-minute move to the Peanut Gallery and an almost-too-late phone call to the Calgary-bound headliners saved the evening from defeat, though, and everyone rejoiced. This bill had legs from the start; Women, recently signed to “major indie” Jagjaguwar, are a bona-fide, Pitchfork-approved buzz band, and deservedly so—their self-titled debut is one of the year’s best.
First things first, though. Vancouver’s Gang Violence opened the proceedings in style with their stark, angular dance jams. If you’ve been paying attention to Discorder lately, you know how strongly we are in favour of this trio. The early start time did nothing to diminish the enthusiasm of band or crowd.
Next up was Hot Panda from Edmonton. I never really got into their debut EP and Mint Records 7”, but their performance definitely improved my opinion. They were charming and enthusiastic, and a little rougher around the edges than on record. Their first full-length, slated for February 2009, will be worth checking out.
Toronto’s the Bicycles were next to take the stage, pumping out song after catchy indie pop song to what was by then a packed house. Their tight vocal harmonies and general bounciness give them a ’70s AM radio vibe, and although the effect is a little twee on the whole, they’re unquestionably a great band if you like sugary things.
The Clips then took over the stage in what is normally their practice space. I have seen these guys in a lot of dark, smelly basements and warehouses over the past few years, and tonight was no different. They got the crowd dancing, as they always do, and seemed distinctly in their element. It’s great to see them finally getting their due after a lot of hard work.
Finally, early Sunday morning, the main event began. Women took the stage, and in a word, they absolutely killed it. The band has tightened up considerably since I last saw them (at Calgary’s Sled Island Festival), and they tried out some new songs, which held up well to their album material. The performance had no banter, and very few breaks in the noise, which was as it should have been. It’s hard to describe Women’s sound adequately. There are points of reference (the nouveau-shoegaze of No Age and Deerhunter, for example, or the cleverly interlocking guitars of Television’s Marquee Moon), but somehow everything is made new again. Women is a band that tickles each side of your brain in turns, both familiar and unrecognizable. When they left the stage to yelps of “one more!” it was with the self-assurance of a band that knows exactly what they’re doing, and whatever it is, it’s good.