Ketamines and warm soda are great together. The bands combine pretty well, too. This Saturday night show at the Rickshaw, headlined by the Toronto/Lethbridge-based Ketamines with their ever-in-flux lineup, was pretty fantastic all the same. The theatre’s setup was perfect: big speakers and high ceilings made it feel bigger than it was, and the entire lineup demanded that big-rock-show type feeling. While the crowd was thin — “Hello forty people!” was how Tough Age put it — none of the bands slowed for a second.
Local foursome Tough Age kicked the night off with some fuzzy rock, a lot of energy, and some sort of quip about us being trees. The band, formed by members of Sightlines and the now-defunct Korean Gut, to name a few, is fairly new and already have a six-track album and a digital single released so far this year. They’re definitely one to watch, and complemented the sounds of Warm Soda and Ketamines nicely.
Zebrassieres was kind of like seeing the Ketamines. Literally. The band share the same members, but playing different instruments. If you’re not familiar, Zebrassieres is a plan for the Ketamines founders Paul Lawton and James Leroy to get paid twice for the same show. And it’s worth the price of admission. Zebrassieres have a touch more mania, and played faster and more frantic. Plus, you get to see Lawton lose his shit on a keyboard.
If I had one criticism though, it would be don’t let the Ballantynes open for you, because they will try and steal the whole show. It’s an inescapable law of Vancouver music, even more evident when their garage soul sound felt slightly out of place — but not at all unwelcome — with the rest of the lineup. They brought all the energy from their recordings to the performance, and are just so much damn fun to watch live. That’s not to say there was anything lackluster about the rest of the show. Oakland quartet Warm Soda picked up the pace with their softer, yet somehow louder, garage pop and long interludes that had the crowd nodding their heads like people do when they don’t know how to dance.
Towards midnight, Ketamines got up to finish the show, Lawton trading keys for guitar and the mic. One of the nicest things about having the stage and floor at the same height is that you get a whole new level of audience interaction. The sense of humour and fun ran high as they messed around with friends in the crowd and each other in between killer songs, ranging from garage to punk to fuzz. It’s always a great feeling to see a band really enjoy what they’re doing.