Hermetic: both an airtight seal to protect from outside influences and a Vancouver bandreleasing an EP that sounds like it’s been sealed up in a time capsule since the ‘90s.
Hermetic is even going so far as to offer Heartbreakology on “glorious cassette format” for that authentic grunge experience.
Opening band Cult Babies’ first song rolled over the crowd at LanaLou’s like an ethereal mist thickening into a fog as singer/guitarist Hasan Li’s hypnotic voice rose above the echoing guitars and keyboard. The lo-fi sound oscillated somewhere between Sigur Ros and Black Mountain’s psychedelic side. “I’m going to live forever, ” Li repeated over the crescendo of “Good Death,” one of two songs available on their Bandcamp page.
Cult Babies closed their set by ripping into the stoner-rock sludge master riff that opened “Minokawa,” a song sharing the name of a great bird from Bagobo legend who lived above the sky and once swallowed the moon. Like its namesake, the song’s reverberations threatened to consume the crowd as Li told us everything we’ll ever want to do.
Next up: punk/grunge three-piece Diane, who crashed into their set with Ben Goldberg assailing his drums like he’d played in a three-story stairwell at Headley Grange. The understated slow-roll vocals of singer Mel Zee and the impellent force of her own bass held the crowd somewhere north of head bobbing but below the mosh threshold.
Diane closed their set with “Phantoms” off of their EP of the same name. It’s a relentless and unsettling track that doesn’t seem to be promise a good death. Although sparse lyrically, Phantoms displayed an introspective yet pretense-less style of songwriting that complimented the straightforward ‘90s throwback grunge sound of Diane: “Full throat gut rot always fading / silent night, full force bliss / hungry eyes never blink.”
When Hermetic finally took the stage, they launched straight into their new EP with instrumental interlude “For Sammy.” Eric Axen’s soft-spoken, almost falsetto vocals layered over the relentless forward momentum of his fuzz chugging guitar and the force of Bart Newman’s drumming created a sound that’s somehow both aggressive and melancholy.
It’s shoe-gazing punk reminiscent of early Dinosaur Jr. or Jawbreaker. “Company you Keep,” featuring amiable whistling over a sonorous guitar riff, pairs with “Conspicuous Production” to finish off the EP.
Hermetic devoted the end of their set to the 2012 album Civilized City, including the apparent crowd favourite (and radio friendly) “Malingering.” The song alternated straightforward rock strumming with a rootsy harmonica fill that never overstayed its welcome and included just the right amount of hoo-hooing for the crowd to sing along.
While the crowd seemed primed for an encore, Hermetic chose to close out their set with “Sunday Best” and a brief plug for Diane’s upcoming tour. The doors opened, breaking the seal keeping that little bubble of the 90’s inside LanaLou’s and letting the atmosphere float out to Powell Street to mingle with the cigarette smoke and excited post show chatter.