I have a love-hate relationship with Mesa Luna. Its regular all-ages shows are a treasure to the music-starved masses of Vancouver minors. But there is a growing trend of disrespect amongst the patrons of these concerts: from long waits outside in the bitter cold, to ridiculous coat-check prices, to Big Brother booming through the soundsystem to “please get off the stage” (even after the performers invite people to climb on up), patience with the venue is wearing thin. Still, not thin enough to prevent tickets selling out for Seattle’s shriek-scene superstars, the Blood Brothers.
First on the bill was Winning, new kids on the block featuring former Red Light Sting-er Andy Dixon and that intense dude from the Primes. They were all jagged stabs of guitar, spastic rhythms, and yelped vocals—as expected, reminiscent of the Sting or Ex Models. Moments of genius left as quickly as they came in what seemed more like musical collages than actual songs. Sorry boys, but you’re no Fantômas; work your potential, and maybe I’ll give you another chance.
The head-scratching was replaced with ass-shaking when You Say Party! We Say Die! got down to business. Shouts and handclaps filled the room as the band delivered shot after shot of spunky dance-punk. The snap-crackle-pop combination of beats, chords, and vocals demonstrated to one and all just how much fun Vancouverites can have. The bassist’s repeated stage dives were the cherry on top. I say party!
2004’s Crimes saw the Brothers expanding their sonic arsenal with exotic instruments and adventurous song structures, and their set showcased that album to the eager masses. The band was assertive enough with their material to hit every musical sweet spot possible: the dynamic shifts in “Peacock Skeleton with Crooked Feathers” were smooth as butter; the chaotic bridge of “Love Rhymes with Hideous Car Wreck” swerved like a school bus out of control; and the slow-burning buildup that is “Crimes” captured the disaffection of an entire generation. Johnny Whitney and Jordan Billie put on a real acrobatics display with their barely-controlled screams and frenetic vocal delivery. The night ended with “Cecilia and the Silhouette Saloon,” a song whose closing lament, “where is love now,” was still ringing in everyone’s ears the next morning at school.