Rain Machine @ Biltmore -- 10/02/09

Having seen TV On The Radio at both the Commodore and Malkin Bowl, it was kinda weird, yet really cool, to see Kyp Malone and his solo project, Rain Machine at a small place like the Biltmore. I also realized, part way through the show, that not only was this my sixth show in a ten day span, but it was the first of those that wasn't a Canadian band! Gasp!

Around 8:30, despite there being only a couple dozen people scattered about, the curtains opened and a lone, slightly nervous looking fellow introduced himself as Steven Donald Robert Nelson and started playing. He had the whole acoustic-singer-songwriter going for him, and had some pretty decent stuff. The set was short, about 25 minutes, and as it went on he seemed to grow more comfortable and confident as people started filtering up from the tables to the stage. It was a solid set; nothing too mind blowing, but he definitely has potential. I wouldn't mind checking him out again in the future and kinda wish I had picked up an album. He's a local, though, so I'm sure I will be able to catch him around at some point.

When the curtain was opened again, at 9, I was surprised to see not Rain Machine, but Diane Cluck. Surprised because I had heard she had to cancel. Turns out, as she told us during the set, she forgot her passport in New York, but they were able to ship it to her in Seattle with just enough time for her to get here.
The only problem with her set had nothing to do with her, it was that the people at the Biltmore wouldn't shut the fuck up. It sounded more like a food court, with everyone trying to have their own conversations over her music, which is soft enough as it is. After only two songs, she basically told us she wasn't going to bother trying to play over people, and for anyone who was interested to come to the front of the stage. Luckily, a fair amount of people did -- including Kyp Malone out from back stage -- and she kept going, though the noise didn't really die down all that much. Only once have I felt more embarrassed and ashamed to be part of a crowd. If you fucking hipsters are "too cool" to listen to the live music being played, that you paid for, and would rather yell about what cause is most trendy this week, then get the fuck out of my venue and go to, i dunno, the art gallery or the microbrewery or under a falling piano where you won't ruin anyone else's night.
Ahem, but I digress...
As I mentioned, her music was very soft and folky, with just her and an acoustic guitar on stage, and rather beautiful. Her powerful voice carried her songs, and one gets the feeling she could create an intense emotion behind any song. By the end of the set, she had thanked those who were actually listening and capped it off with a little more of a poppy and upbeat song. It was quite a good set, and I hope she wasn't put off Vancouver by the few assholes in the crowd.

And finally, Rain Machine was out just before 10. They started the set off with a few slower songs, but before long they were bringing the house down. Malone's incredibly powerful voice cut a swath through the crowd on more than one occasion, and the other 4 members of the band were able to keep up no problem. At the start of the show, Kyp was a little shy, mumbling hello's, but as the show went on, he got looser and more vocal between songs, and also chastising the crowd for talking during Cluck's set, telling us an amusing tale of how he once talked through a US Maple and regretted it when he saw them again and they blew him away. It was actually quite an interesting contrast, seeing how shy he was between songs, then while singing, watching him attack some of the songs with such ferocity.
Part way through the set, the band left the stage for Malone to perform a song of his own. And at one point during this, even he had to yell at people for talking (see above rant) and went as far as to ask for our attention, which, again, makes me ashamed of the Vancouver crowd. I know it was a Friday night, but come on people.
Anyway, the band came back on and they had time for a couple more songs, before the 11:00 curfew (the Biltmore double booked, for some strange reason) and so they didn't bother leaving for the inevitable encore, which I was glad of, since that's always just a waste of time. They instead, at the very end, asked if they had time to do one more song. Which they did... had it not been an absolutely EPIC 15 minute song, Winter Song.
Ending at about quarter after 11, the Biltmore staff then rushed everyone out for their next show. And while I'm yelling at people in this review: Really, Biltmore? Last couple Saturday shows I've seen there, they have had an 11 curfew so they could have their club nights, which is okay and understandable, and they even let the people at the shows stay without having to pay cover again. That, I am fine with. But booking another band to play that night?? Not cool, Biltmore. Not cool.

ANYWAY, ranting aside, despite the double booking and the shitty crowd, it was a great night. Rain Machine was really damn good, and I hope this isn't just a one-off project and that Kyp Malone is able to keep doing it.