The heat that had been melting the pavement all Wednesday afternoon cooked the Astoria from the outside in, setting a most torrid atmosphere amongst the heaving pounds of flesh in attendance for that night’s show.
A small, silver ball, rattling around the bedlam of neon lights and steel flippers, was all that kept my attention away from the salty residue dripping down my face before the three-act set was ready to begin. Pinball, like music, is only as unpredictable as the new table you’ve set out upon. With a proper introduction, one can begin to recognize the resemblances to past affairs.
Tight Jeans, a two-piece consisting of Liam Less (guitar) and Karen J. Lum (drums), are a haunting choral team, ready to wake the dead. The daunting sway of Less’ howling guitar riffs, convened alongside Lum’s beats and were only overshadowed by the beauty that is their dueling vocals. Less’ sing song whisper, which at times could slow one’s pulse to a murmur, was defibrillated by Lum’s ghoulish harmonies.
The constant flow of feedback that shrouded their entire set created a despondency that contributed to the band’s chilling tone, and thusly their sound became transcendent of their minimal instrumentation. On songs such as “Gimme a Minute” and “Record Shop,” the drums were like a pounding of stretched flesh, the strings like the pluck of a taught tendon. With their meticulous gloom and perennial fuzz, Tight Jeans’ sound roamed towards a most interesting identity.
In an incongruous fashion, the three members of Inherent Vices took the stage, each clad distinctly. Opening up with “Die for You,” a 30-second song that was quite telling of the briefness of each following track, a hint of the Misfits was heard from the get go. Lead singer and guitar player, Christopher Burnside, who especially embodied the voice of Glenn Danzig, used his impressive range to go above and beyond the pitches of his comparable counterpart, and used it to define a distinctive vein of their own. And with his fellow bassist accompanying him in almost every line, the vocal tracks radiated out into the audience.
Emphatically displayed in one of their most well-known songs, “Suicide,” Inherent Vices have a congenial resonance that translates to a potentially danceable variety.
The night’s headliner, thrashers Phoenix Thunderbird, were an unusual way to cap off the evening. Or maybe Inherent Vices were an unusual choice to open. The trio of Blair Bodnar (drums), Grant Minor (bass) and Jordan Ardanaz (lead guitar, vocals) could have almost been from the heydays of Metallica and Megadeth.
Opening with “Heart Attack,” the bass’s groove invited those listening to move in a way one wouldn’t at a typical metal concert; one could even say dance. If not by immediate choice, Ardanaz’s erratic stomping only convinced the audience to get up and shake more.
But with their cover of Bloc Party’s “Banquet,” it was debatable whether they wanted to bend the genre or to satisfy a certain live demographic. Although delivered well, an original song would have been more pleasing, as their six song set brimmed with delicious thrash flavour.