The audience was sparse even for a Tuesday night as local rockers Village, featured in the October issue of Discorder, opened at the Biltmore Cabaret. The group’s music has recently taken on a generally louder sound, forced by their current rehearsal space neighbours, and it suits them well.
The band’s setlist sounded heavier than the shoe-gazey dream pop posted on their Bandcamp, though it still seemed like they were holding back their volume a bit. Regardless, the songs were varied, layered, and highly enjoyable.
Next up was singer-songwriter husband and wife duo, the Royal Oui. The show played a dual role for them: it was their first live performance and also the release of their seven-inch When You Lose Your Mind. But throughout the set I found myself wondering why tonight and why at the Biltmore? Their soft, sensible, and stereotypical love songs, obviously written for each other, didn’t match the excitement of the other bands. The Royal Oui might suit a cozy living room where newfound couples snuggle up to a cover by Nick Cave, but the Biltmore is much larger than a living room.
Twenty-five-year-old Dutch baroque pop multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner, accompanied by a drummer Jos van Tol, bassist Jasper Verhulst, guitarist Keez Groenteman, and ‘60s black and white visuals, finally started their set at 11:15 p.m. By then, a third of the audience had already left, missing out on a great Canadian premiere.
Gardner’s keyboard, producing organ and harpsichord sounds, were the center of the evening, accountable for taking the night’s attendees back to the psychedelic ‘60s. Lyrics about forgotten tales and personal journeys from his debut album Cabinet of Curiosities left a haunting but warm sound for the listener. Though Gardner is seen as the frontman, his experienced companions’ translation of the studio produced sound into a live set were not to be overlooked.
One of the highlights was the brand new single “End of August,” which Gardner introduced as a celebration of his favourite season and a perfect example of the clever atmospheric pop songs Gardner is capable of writing.
The 45-minute set proved Gardner to be well-worth checking out the next time he and his band visit North America in the (hopefully near) future.