Funky Winkerbeans hosted Like Animal Again’s debut album release party and though the doors were at 8 p.m., of course the show doesn’t start until 11 p.m. After a long sound check, the first band, Gut Feeling delivered a set of generic punk songs, consisting of the usual three power chords, harsh vocals and eye-rolling comments such as, “Fuck Gordon Campbell.” They seemed stoked to be a part of Like Animal Again’s album release party, and were generous enough to give out bath bombs, but it’s not a good sign when instead of watching the band, you find yourself more amused by the guy skanking in the front row.
Luckily the next band, Language-Arts, had a refreshingly unique sound. Lead singer/guitarist Kristen Cudmore’s distinctive staccato, pixie-like voice, created an interesting contrast to the smooth lounge-y keyboards and upright bass. At times, Cudmore sounded like she was dropping rhymes or scatting. Her voice acted as a metronome as it sounded so precise and sharp, much like her impressive classical guitar skills. Before the break down in the song “Benson,” Cudmore sang, “It’s better e-lectronic,” making me realize that her vocals even possess an electro/robotic flare.
Apollo Ghosts, who were recently long listed for the Polaris Music Prize couldn’t have been more fun and entertaining. Whenever singer/guitarist Adrian Teacher played one of those catchy little riffs, like from “Coka Cola Admen,” he would stare down the audience and have this ridiculous grin on his face. I especially loved the moments when drummer, Amanda Panda (what a great stage name), belted her explosive back up vocals during the callbacks in “Charms of Cars” or “Land of the Morning Calm.” Though their songs are about two minutes long to begin with, the trio ripped through them at a comically fast rate. Ending with a punked out cover of the Monks track, “Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice,” Apollo Ghosts pleased the Funky Winkerbeans crowd but left everyone craving more after a mere 20 minute set.
Like Animals Again took the stage donning zombie, Viking and skeleton outfits. There was something very carnivalesque about their act and it was more than just the Halloween costumes. On the band’s MySpace they are described as a blend of baroque and rock, however, all I could think of whenever that synth kicked in were circus clowns or those creepy electric light parades. The song named, fittingly enough, “Like Animals Again,” is a stand out track where the band’s vocal harmonizing proved to be their strong point. But overall, my mind was focused on the previous, short but sweet set by Apollo Ghosts and wondering where their next show is going to be.