Entering the venue shortly after doors opened, I was surprised to hear the main act, Ought, already running through some tracks off of their latest full length release, Sun Coming Down. Only on entering the nearly empty room did I realize that soundcheck was just finishing and I had gotten there way too early.
As the last minute or two of their sprawling David Byrne-inspired art rock song “Beautiful Blue Sky” trailed off, I settled into one of the many couches in the room, and watched the band pack up while people slowly filtered in.
After an hour or so of watching the crowd grow denser, Vancouver’s own Cave Girl took to the stage. The garage pop trio bruised their way through a handful of songs, often losing their way under an overwhelming wash of distortion. The charm and melodic sensibility that their recorded material possesses was almost entirely eradicated by volume, save for a few moments of restraint and musical virtuosity, from bassist Devon Parker especially.
That being said, the crowd bid them farewell at the end of their set with healthy cheers and applause. After a short intermission, Peace began to play. Their volume was appropriately lowered, their distortion was more tastefully applied, and their frontman’s gaze effectively captured the attention of everyone in the room. Paired with his poetic crooning, Dan Geddes’s unwavering stare not only proved thoroughly entertaining, but foreshadowed the idiosyncratic frontman of the headlining band.
The performance of Tim Darcy, guitarist and vocalist of Ought, was really a sight to be seen. His lanky frame jerked around the stage; his hands spastically moved from his guitar to the air around his head; his voice shifted between aggressive talking to near shrieking; his lyrics darted between declarations of literary grandeur—”This is the high watermark of civilization!”—to statements of the everyday—”Beautiful weather today / How’s the church? / How’s the job?”
But the dynamic and riveting energy he brought to the stage was not a solo effort. The rest of Ought filled out the songs with an incredible focus and determination to hold true to the record while adding that extra push to the live performance. The complex drum beats never wavered, the distorted and
rhythmic keys counterbalanced the explosive guitar lines, and the bass lines anchored the expansive post-punk songs.
With an equally frantic and comfortable energy onstage, Ought powered through their newest record in its entirety, and even added a few tracks from their 2014 LP, More Than Any Other Day, closing the set with the title track of that record. With only two full lengths under their belt, one would think Ought would still be trying to figure out who they are, or what they want to be. But, after seeing them perform, it’s pretty clear that they know exactly what they’re doing.