Despite its resemblance to a gypsum cavern, the Biltmore had the intimate, tingly feel of a welcome home party. Marking now Toronto-based Adaline’s return to Vancouver for the release of her sophomore album Modern Romantics, that’s exactly what it was.
Rococode kicked things off with their fun, synth-inflected pop rock, threaded at its best with Laura Smith and Andrew Braun’s pretty harmonies. Listening to Smith’s strange, high-pitched voice and watching her rock the keys one-handed, I was continually struck by the freshness she injected into what would otherwise be an ordinary band. Braun ended the set with the suggestion that Adaline would certainly rock our socks, and possibly our pants, off.
When In Medias Res took the stage, however, there was no time for jokes. The band brought an intensity to the show, from the trippy opening tune that found Andrew Lee bent intently over his pedal steel guitar, to the balls-out thrashy song that followed, which climaxed with him staggering across the stage and almost knocking over a couple of amps. The crowd seemed divided on this one, though. A large group of enthusiastic fans populated the dance floor in front of the stage, but I also noticed an alarming number of miserable looking people with their hands over their ears.
Everyone was happy, though, when Shawna Beesley, a.k.a. Adaline, emerged in a spangly dress that uncannily matched the Biltmore’s dusty chandeliers, announcing “I’m Home!” An annoying glitch with her mic cord made for a bit of a rocky start, cutting out and interrupting her gorgeous vocals at all the wrong moments. Beesley persevered cheerfully through this hiccough though, which was fixed just in time for “Wasted Time,” a deliciously catchy number that showcased her voice in all its sexy, electric, breathy glory.
Warbly slow jams “Say Goodbye,” and “Cost Is Too High” were two more highlights, layering a mellower vein into her otherwise upbeat set without sacrificing any of the drama. I was reminded of why it’s so good to see local acts when Beesley’s mom appeared on stage to give her a hug and a bouquet, from which she plucked flowers to throw out into the crowd. At the end of the night I left feeling warm and fuzzy, and mysteriously pants-less. Adaline, you did it again.