Pink Mountaintops @ The Rickshaw Theatre -- 09/27/09

It's a shame when an otherwise awesome show get ruined by outside forces. Like shitty venues. If I never go back to the Rickshaw Theatre, it'll be too soon. Located just off Main & Hastings, the crazies were out in full force as we waited an hour after doors were supposed to open to be let in. Once inside, it was none too impressive. A converted movie theatre, it looked more like an old warehouse with a stage and seats. But who cares how it looks, right? As long as it sounds good? Well, no such luck in that category either. The sound was murky and echoy, and seemed to drop in and out. It didn't help that there was a myriad of technical problems, at least at the start of Pink Mountaintops set, and at one point a tech guy was fiddling with something mid-song, causing ear piercing feedback. I know Vancouver needs all the venues it can get, especially now, but.... no thanks.

But enough ranting about the venue, onto the show itself. The first of the all-Vancouveronian show was The Pack A.D., and boy, do they know how to put on a fucking rock show. The garage blues duo, consisting of singer/guitarist Becky Black and drummer Maya Miller, were all energy and blew the roof off (and given the venue, it wouldn't surprise me if that literally happened). The only reservation about them is a lot of their songs are kinda... similar; a fact they they jokingly acknowledge when introducing songs. I had heard a fair amount of them on CBCR3, but never really had any inclination to look into them any further. I'm not sure if that has changed, but I would probably not hesitate to see them live again.

And then finally, Stephen McBean and co. hit the stage as Pink Mountaintops came out. The Pack A.D. sounded okay on the sound system, with their minimalistic sound, but once you have six members on stage playing sweeping music, you definitely notice the faults. Despite all this, however, they still managed to put on a pretty great show. focusing mostly on the new album, Outside Love, they played a decent mix of old and new. A lot of the songs sounded a but edgier and more punched up live, but the slower songs, like Vampire, were appropriately (and beautifully) toned down. McBean didn't say much during the show, but it was hard to tell if that was his usual untalkativeness, or frustrations. He even managed to break three strings over the course of the set. It was probably due to his sheer awesomeness, but if I could find a way to blame it on the venue...
They played for about an hour and change, before coming back out for the obligatory encore of a couple songs. It was about as good a set as could have been done.

I know this review is mostly me trashing the Rickshaw, but man... it was pretty bad. I don't know if it was just the scope of Pink Mountaintops was grander than the theatre could handle, but considering their website boasts they are "a place with amazing acoustics and a top notch sound system"... mind you, it also lists "working bathrooms" as a feature, so....
I don't know how many shows they have had there before last night, so I am hoping it's just the kinks of a new venue, and that if they continue to hold shows there, they can get their shit together. But for now, I think I'll be staying away.