Expecting delays, this reviewer arrived just before the headlining Bosnian Rainbows were set to take the stage. It was a shame that Nostalghia were so timely, as exclusively Spanish=speaking alternative rock groups tend to be a rare sight in the city.
On their first-ever stop in Vancouver, Bosnian Rainbows delighted fans on an unusually foggy Saturday night. As the curtain rose, Nicci Kasper flooded the Biltmore with ambient synths in an extended intro to “Eli.” The first song of the night smoldered with slow burning intensity as Teri Gender Bender’s vocals were awash in reverb and echo effects. Teri inquired to the crowd, “Why do you smile at me?” as the music grew with a fury into a bombastic crescendo setting the right tone for the night ahead.
Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) was fascinating to behold. Her deeper tone is reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux in her prime and her stage presence was compelling. Heavily invested in the music generated by her three stage mates, Teri gestured and moved in a simultaneously theatrical and idiosyncratic manner. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez was incendiary; a veteran of At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta, Rodriguez-Lopez is a genius behind the fretboard in the same manner of a mad scientist. Frequently experimenting with distortion and effects, his tone sounded everything from spacey to piercing, sometimes within the same solo. Special props to his solo on “I Cry For You” which sounded like a molested saxophone and his turn at fretboard canoodling on “Turtle Neck” which can only be described as caterwauling.
The aforementioned “Turtle Neck” was a definite highlight of the band’s set. As one of the stronger tracks from the group’s already consistently enjoyable debut, the song felt fully realized in a live setting. Smoke billowed on to the theatrically light stage as Deantoni Parks’ (another Mars Volta alum) sputtering drums gave way to Rodriguez-Lopez’s dreamy guitar riffing. Teri commanded the audience throughout the track’s many dynamic and rhythmic twists and turns, navigating the audience through a sea of noise and musical bliss.
Running through the breadth of their debut from cover to cover, Bosnian Rainbows fully displayed their prowess as a live act. Mesmerizing, bizarre, sincere, quirky, and transcendent in equal measures, Bosnian Rainbows left the crowd begging for more as the curtain alas came to a close.