Jane Vain @ Media Club -- 06/28/10

I guess Monday is just not the day for live music. As the first band of last night started, at 9:30, there were only about a dozen people in the Media Club, and while more did trickle in the rest of the night, there still wasn't a huge turnout.

Vancougar was the first band up. I had seen this all-female quartet a couple times before, at Mint Records X-Mas Parties, and while I had enjoyed their set, I was never really got into the band. This time, though, I seemed to enjoy them more than the other times. With their kind of garage-rock sound, they were highly energetic on stage and even though their songs may have been a bit... same-y, they still rocked pretty hard, and were good natured about the small turn out (at one point the lead singer thanked each person individually for showing up). I hadn't really heard anything from Vancougar in the last while, but if they have an upcoming album, I might just have to check it out.

Up next was a band I knew nothing about, [The] Valleys (they kept saying "The" but the album & website omits it, so...) They had me intrigued from the first song, with a kind of experimental sound that reminded me, at times, of bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Do Make Say Think, except a little more lo-fi. At first I thought they were going to be instrumental, but mid-way through the second song, they added the vocals, which I initially thought would detract, but was clearly wrong. They had an interesting set up, in that the three members were rotating instruments - and vocals -- throughout the set, with the focus on guitars and keys; the only drumming was either on a single floor tom or looped beats off the keyboard. And at one point they even used a xylophone stick to pluck the strings. It's a difficult sound to pin down, but once they said they were from Montreal, it started to make sense. In any case, the whole set had me engaged from the start, and I made sure to grab their album on my way out. (Which they "warned" me was not the Jane Vain album as I picked it up). They also mentioned it was their first show in Vancouver, and I hope that they're back soon.

Finally was Jane Vain. Despite being a big fan of their '06 album, Love Is Where The Smoke Is, this was my first chance to see them live, and I have to admit, I am quite conflicted about the show. I was slightly disappointed that they were only playing songs from the new album. Which, don't get me wrong, is a good album, and the show itself was quite good, but it would have been nice to hear those older tunes. I guess because, with the exception of Jamie Fooks, the rest of the band is different, and the new album is a bit of a change than the last. But I digress, those complaints aside, they played a really tight set, and seemed genuinely grateful to everyone for showing up -- at that point the room had filled out a bit more, but there was probably still only 30 or 40 people, tops.
Fooks traded between the keyboard and guitar, and the whole band had a great energy throughout the set. The one thing that struck me, though, was how funny they were. Between Fooks and the other guitarist, they bantered between songs, talking about finding the true meaning of Tim Horton's bathrooms while on tour (masturbating to Vibe magazine) or making up meanings for the songs ("this song is not about abortions" and riffing on that for a bit, before launching into "The Solution"). I was somewhat surprised just because some of their songs can be a little dark, but I guess looking back at what was said, the sense of humour was a little dark as well.

In the end, while The Media Club is usually a pretty intimate venue, it ended up being more so last night, and even though I wish I had seen some of the older Jane Vain songs live, it was still a pretty good show. I wouldn't hesitate to see Jane Vain again live, and I discovered a great new band. What more can you ask for than that?