We Are The City @ Biltmore -- 08/12/17

If you’ve noticed East Vancouver looking a little more colourful in the last little while, that would be thanks to the Vancouver Mural Festival. Over the last week, there have been over 50 new murals going up throughout Mount Pleasant by a variety of artists. And since it was spearheaded by David & Ambrosia Vertesi, you know there’s going to be a musical component as well. Louise Burns & Yukon Blonde played a free outdoor show in the afternoon, and in the evening was the Underplay concert series (with a tough decision of where to be).

Opening the night was The Tourist Company, though I only caught the last few songs. The band seems to have undergone some changes since I last saw them, with a slimmed down lineup and a bit of a different sound. Last I knew, they were more of a folk band, but they've replaced that with a more of an alt-pop, space-y and ethereal sound; perhaps fitting with their latest album being named Apollo, mentioning it was inspired by the space program.
The new album was released last year, and I hadn't checked it out yet (to be completely honest, I was never into their 'folk sound') but based on the couple songs I heard, I will have to give them another shot. 

On the days leading up to the show, We Are The City was promising a “loud and trashy” set, and as the trio kicked off with "Baptism" it quickly became clear they were not exaggerating. They played fast & loose through favourites like the frenetic "That's It, That's All", and the raucous "King David", while songs from the latest album Above Club, like "Sign My Name Like ƪƲƐƐƝ" sounded more raw than their album versions. 
To go along with the vibe of the songs, the band had an unparalleled energy; Cayne frantically hitting the keys between yelps, David rocking out on the guitar, and especially Andy wailing on his drums. I have seen very few drummers who play with more energy and intensity, and who are more animated than him. 
Matching the band's energy was the jam-packed Biltmore, who were singing along -- even when unprompted and to deeper cuts. Near the end of the set, after admitting he blew out his voice, Cayne enlisted in the help of everyone to fill in on the high parts of "Kiss Me Honey", and the crowd more than stepped up to the challenge. After that there was one more left, as they ended off the night with "Friends Hurt", complete with Andy diving into the crowd to surf, and the band leaving the stage one at a time before Cayne made it quite clear there would be no encore, by literally smashing his keyboard onto the stage.

It’s been a while since We Are The City played in Vancouver, especially a venue as intimate as the Biltmore, and everyone involved was glad to have them back. Word is they're finishing off a new album, and while they didn't preview it this night, if it has even half the energy that they shared, it'll be a good one. 

Keep on Dancing
Bottom of the Lake
Legs Give Out
King David
That's It, That's All
Sign My Name Like ƪƲƐƐƝ
Dark/Warm Air
Cheque Room
Everything Changes
Happy New Year
Heavy as a Brick
Kiss Me Honey
Friends Hurt

The Matinée @ Fox Cabaret -- 08/10/17


On a Thursday night, people packed into a (thankfully air conditioned) Fox Cabaret to celebrate not only the new album from The Matinée, but also the band's ten year anniversary. In fact, they mentioned their very first photoshoot was in that same room, back when it was the Fox Cinema and, well, let’s just say it was 19+ for very different reasons.

Unfortunately I missed the first act of the night, Emily Rowed, arriving shortly before The Wild Romantics. They played a set of mostly new, unreleased songs, I believe, starting with a sultry tune and gradually turning the energy up throughout the set. Songs like "Someone Else’s Smile" and "You’re My Whiskey" were on the sweeter side, as couple Aleisha Kalina and Evan Miller sang together, sometimes into a single mic, their chemistry off the charts. Throughout the set, things got progressively more rockin', culminating with the raucous “Fist Fight” and the fittingly titled, “Last Call” to finish off. Hopefully the new music means they have a new album coming out down the line, because I'm definitely looking forward to hearing it. 

After some between-set music clearly chosen by the band, The Matinée took the stage, singer Matt Layzell, Matt Rose & Geoff Petrie on guitars, and drummer Peter Lemon joined by Georges Couling on keys and Marcus Abramzik on bass. They started off with a couple old favourite, "Sweet Water" getting the crowd to stomp, clap, and sing along -- not for the last time that night -- and one of my personal faves "L'Absinthe", before going into their new album, with the title track "Dancing On Your Grave". 
They gave off a great energy, each member clearly having an absolute blast on stage (you can always tell a band member is into it when they are singing along nowhere near a microphone) and that energy definitely infected the crowd. It also helps that they're all fantastic musicians, with Matt Layzell as charismatic a frontman as you'll find. But he also knows when to melt into the back and let the spotlight shine on other members of the band; evidenced when he literally pushed Marcus front and centre.
Highlights from the set included "Figure It Out" which features Emily Rowed come back on stage for guest vocals; my favourite from the new album, "Fireworks" which builds to an appropriately explosive ending; "Show Me" which saw Geoff & the two Matts crowded around the mic to sing softly; as well as a heartfelt cover of The Hip's "Grace Too". 
They brought the main set to an end with the last song from the album, “Heart Still Works” and feigning an encore break, but then Matt Rose saying the whole thing is silly and they were just going to keep going. He and Layzell then played the first song they ever wrote together, an acoustic ballad called “Red Wine and Whiskey” before ending with a bang: first the incredibly infectious “The Road” and finally -- with a little bit of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” slipped into the middle of it -- the perennial summer jam “Young & Lazy” to cap off their 10 year celebration.

And here’s to hoping for (at least) another 10 more. 

Daning On Your Grave
Sweet Thing
Figure It Out
Show Me
Grace Too
Long Gone
Let Her Go
Blood Alley
Heart Still Works
Red Wine & Whiskey
The Road
Young & Lazy