Julie Doiron, with Twin River.
September 21 @ The Biltmore Cabaret.
A burning blue-gray dusk descends, autumnal darkness dips, and recent memories of mild, cloudless skies dissolve. But for fair-weather fans of indie symphony, the Biltmore Cabaret on the second night of Olio Festival, a radiant reprieve for summer’s last day was graciously given.
Due to an ill-starred power outage the night’s docket was delayed some, sending part of the rabble elsewhere for Olio offerings. Too bad, because when Vancouver’s organic country-rock outfit, Twin River, took the stage just after midnight the crowd was meagre, returning at only a slow trickle.
Undeterred, Twin River, usually a five-piece, tonight playing as four for a laid-back yet confident bucolic bypass. Theirs was a tenacious, full-flavoured set that often turned the Friday night into a Sunday afternoon. Lead singer Courtney Ewan’s sweetly soft singing and perma-smile was infectious and her harmonies with Andy Bishop (who shared lead on a few tracks) made up for any lost time.
When the ever-amiable and overtly adorable Julie Doiron took the spotlight, much of the crowd had returned, though alcohol had made many restless, righteous and rude. This has always been my bugbear with late shows; the booze turning the riff raff into glib jackasses. But I digress.
Julie Doiron seldom disappoints live and while her shortened setlist didn’t contain too many surprises, she played with joyful upbeat abandon. Ably backed by a drummer and bassist (not the Wrong Guys, collaborators on recent seven-inch release Heartbeats/Swan Pond) the threesome tore into “Swan Pond,” making this staple of hers a more rumbling rocker than previously realized in her solo canon. This elated burst was followed hotly by a ditty from Doiron’s Broken Girl days, “So Fast,” which carried the grit and birr I first encountered when Eric’s Trip rocked my teenage world religiously.
Doiron showed that she can still shred for a number or two, and high-fived her band between songs, and also previewed “By the Lake” from the forthcoming LP, So Many Days.
As always, Doiron’s fascination and banter hoisted the show into the firmament, brought down only when she said goodbye to the band and closed the night on her own, nearly being drowned out by the inebriated imbeciles who couldn’t stop with the slurs and the jabber. Doiron was gracious and forgiving, making light of the dull roar and playing every request her now strident fans suggested. Closing with the one-two punch of “The Songwriter” and “Glad to be Alive,” she hit the bull’s eye and no loquacious louts could dim the joy and the jewel that is Julie Doiron.
by Shane Scott-Travis
Shout Out Out Out Out, with Teen Daze.
September 22 @ The Biltmore Cabaret.
It was full-tilt boogie in the savvy subterrane environs of the Biltmore as I made my way through the teeming crowd. Enthusiasm was palpable as the smoke machines poured atmospheric exhaust into the writhing and perspiring crowd who were pulling shapes to Vancouver chillwave major-domo du jour, Teen Daze.
While in-turns tantalizing and daffy imagery was projected on a backdrop the driving dance floor was delightfully down with Teen Daze’s calculable and inoffensive auditory diversions. Not to jab directly at Teen Daze or the IDM genre, I’ve just never been bulldozed by the co-dependent relationship this sort of music has on sampling, effects processing, looping, more sampling, and that whole bag of bones. I suppose it’s great for getting the party bouncing and readying the room for the heavy-hitting headliners, and that it most certainly did.
For a lot of the attendees it was the sizzling sextet Shout Out Out Out Out, Edmonton’s untiring upstarts, that sent us here in the first place. When the curtains parted revealing their massive on-stage set-up, complete with two drummers, two bassists and a magic mountain of synthesizers, sequences, et al., it was apparent that their agenda was to detonate the dance floor in perpetuity. A goal they reached repeatedly.
Occasionally reaching colossal and hypnotic heights as with “In the End It’s Your Friends” were worthy of Kraut rock luminaries Neu! These Albertans sprayed enough synth-filled aggression and old school analog vocoder around the room to conjure classic Kraftwerk or contemporaries like Trans Am or MSTRKRFT. Standout numbers, and there were many, like “Dude You Feel Electrical” and “Now That I’ve Given Up Hope, I Feel Much Better” brought the party to dizzying heights. Favouring material from their recent LP Spanish Moss and Total Loss only proved their continued relevance and experimental leanings but first and foremost their set consisted of flash-fires and crowd-pleasers.
As amicable and eager frontman Nik Kozub perpetually tossed high kicks like a young Robert Pollard and spouted praise to the adoring and busy crowd one burning devotee remarked to me that he looked like a “dark Pegasus.” With his sweaty mane, flared nostrils, toothy grin and gleeful, conjuring gaze, I had to agree.
by Shane Scott-Travis