Arriving at the Electric Owl a little after the doors opened was like walking into a bingo night. The crowd for this cystic fibrosis fundraiser was mostly white-haired.
The opening act was David Morin, whose desperately smooth souled-out voice was accompanied by a guitar and a MacBook. Unfortunately, he was outshined by his friends in the Hawaiian shirts and tevas, who were losing it on the dance floor and colliding with the old folks jumping and jiving nearby. Morin, meanwhile, looped and layered his tracks and occasionally caught us off guard with sweet sounding melodic riffs. I won’t tell this guy to go back to busking on Granville, but that voice needs at least a three-man band behind him to succeed.
I met Panther & The Supafly in the back alley before the show and was immediately intrigued by the random assortment of members. Onstage, frontman Josh Panther spat rhymes like “smoking weed yah, is betta than smokin’ crack” while attempting to get the audience to put their peace signs in the air. The lack of participation did not stifle his swagger, though, and his high-energy performance, cut with the band’s perfect set, was something I believe Curtis Mayfield himself might break down to.
West Coast hip-hop-inspired headliners Heatwave & The Vandettas showcased their best coast steez. The band dropped their rhythm and blues melodies cleanly, as the drummer set a metronomic beat that was unbroken. The female keyboardist, meanwhile, laid out spontaneous pop-like melodies with her jazz-trained fingers. Heatwave’s lyrics may not be the most original, though, with interjections about the crowd being good people “like baby Jesus” seeming slightly off-colour. Clichés like “I love music” and “I had a dream about Martin Luther King” felt superfluous. Clearly not mimicking the ‘70s disco band Heatwave, the group’s genre-bending is adding some fresh energy to Vancouver’s hip-hop scene.