As an adopted Vancouverite, I am quickly learning that musicians and gig-goers alike are very proud of their homegrown music. Local talent is championed and adored in equal measure. What better way to spend a Friday night then, than watching four of Vancouver’s best and brightest at one of the city’s favourite venues.
Last minute heroes Dumb kicked off the proceedings, replacing Oldage, who cancelled the day before and, based on the infectious sense of fun of their two EPs, looked every bit like they fit the bill. During one of the many longer breaks between songs (whilst the lead guitarist fiddled with his collection of pedals), the frontman reliably informed us, “Everyone’s got herpes, according to an article I read today.” This encapsulated the atmosphere of four guys having a great time, which is hard not to buy into.
Dumb’s guitarist, and his pedals, then returned to the stage with his other band Swim Team. The art rockers launched into a very self-indulgent set, including a number of long instrumental breakdowns. That said their exemplary musicianship was obvious, especially that of the drummer, whose beats were the driving force behind the band. Set closer “Disgust” was a highlight – if they can apply their talents in a similar way to future recordings, the thought of what they could create is very exciting.
The highly anticipated Kiss Painting took to the stage next. In stark contrast to the previous two acts, they were unconcerned with image. The guitarist sported a trucker cap and wielded a guitar which had almost a meter of spare string coming out of the head. The instrument seemed to play him as he threw himself around the stage, allowing the solid rhythm section to hold the band together. Together they produced a rip-roaring show that was as absorbing as it was impressive. Although the set was short, the six songs they delivered were packed full of energy and really affirmed the trio as a band to watch.
Eric Axen’s newest band, Sightlines, were headlining the evening. The band have made a name for themselves playing nostalgic pop-punk that is more than a bit influenced by the ‘90s. (They actually released a cover of The New Fever’s “Our Demands” on limited edition floppy disks back in 2013). Their summery hooks left the Astoria feeling a world away from the torrential rain outside. With the drummer threatening to smash holes in his kit throughout, the atmosphere that the three piece created was deafening, washing Axen’s lyrics (a real highlight on record) away under the swirling noise.
I must tip my hat to Axen for putting together such a stellar display of local music; on this night it was clear Vancouver’s scene music is in safe hands, and it made me proud to be an (albeit adopted) Vancouverite.
[Editor’s Note: This review previously attributed incorrect names to various artists. These names have now been removed.]