There was something for every taste and fancy on the bill on this Saturday night at the Media Club. Moving from the bittersweet indie pop of Victoria, Victoria! to the lonesome, atmospheric soul melodies of Chet and the visceral shrieks of Carey Mercer and his experimental quartet Frog Eyes, the evening granted listeners a bounty of musical (and in some cases, theatrical and mythological) performance, while also serving as an impressive showpiece of the diversity of the Vancouver/Victoria indie rock scene.
Opening the proceedings, a soft, laid-back 40 minute set by Chris, Johnny, Joe and Jonah of Victoria, Victoria! saw the group playing to warm appreciation despite a waning stage presence. The resulting effect on the crowd was obvious once Chet took the stage. Patrons chatted and seemed preoccupied and disinterested for the bulk of their set. The disconnection aside, Chet evoked a rusty, nostalgic soundscape thanks to the warbling vocals of Ryan Beattie, some soulful organ work and heavily reverbed guitar licks reminiscent of the Walkmen.
Finally it was time for the performance art portion of the show. Frog Eyes’ frontman and centerpiece Carey Mercer, a force on stage, was the antithesis of the tranquil grace emitted by the evening’s earlier acts. His mythology-based, manic and angst-ridden lyrical diatribes demand a fair bit of patience to fully absorb. Mercer guides his devout followers on a theatrical journey through the dark dimensions that are his lyrics, a journey as raucous and volatile as the performer himself. The songs are layered, unsettling collections of melodies resulting from a clashing of disharmonious sound elements. The reaction to Frog Eyes on this night seemed like wonderment bordering on confusion and unease—an uncomfortable and dangerous stew of sound and noise befitting a band with the complexity and intensity of Frog Eyes.