The Zolas w/ Aidan Knight and Hannah Epperson @ Anza Club -- 10/15/10

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have had great luck with shows this year that have had a stellar line-up all around. With Aidan Knight and The Zolas on the same bill, this was looking to be one of those nights. And not that, but it had a great build-up of artists. The night was also hosted by Vancouver comedian Ryan Beil, in the guise of The Zolas sleazy manager contractually obligated to host the show.

The night started with Hannah Epperson, who took stage with nothing more than a violin and a looping pedal (which already had me intrigued). Her first few songs were instrumental and were quite beautiful. I was somewhat hesitant when it looked like she was going to add vocals, but her voice matched the mood, adding to the fantastic sound. And even though it was minimalistic, it never got repetative; the grand sound she created with just the violin loops was quite impressive, and I would be very interested in seeing her again.

Aidan Knight was next up, bringing his Friendly Friends with him. The biggest thing I noticed during the set is how much more comfortable he is with stage banter than the first time I saw him. His nervousness turned into an awkward charm, and even that now has more emphasis on the "charm" than the "awkward". Be that something he has worked on through the Peak Performance Project, or something that has just come with playing more, he has definitely become more comfortable. As for the set itself, it was full of old and new songs, including one he admitted to... liberally borrowing some lines from Simon & Garfunkel for, and his Peak cover of Said The Whale's "The Light Is You", where he takes what is possibly the fastest and most upbeat STW song, turns it into a slow, melancholy jam, and still makes it work. As the intense end of "Knitting Something Nice" climaxed, We Are The City came out to help and stayed honorary Friendly Friends for the final song, "Jasper". Aidan didn't jump into the crowd this time, but everyone joined in singing regardless, for a great ending to the set.

And finally, closing out the night, was The Zolas, and the crowd was going crazy for them. As soon as the familiar opening of "You're Too Cool" hit, everyone was singing along. By the end of the song, Zach was visibly in awe of, and moved by, the crowd, with a grin on his face when they sang along, stealing his lines. The band was in fine form -- especially Tom, who was playing with glass in his lungs -- as they hit most of the songs off of Tic Toc Tic, the new "Guest" (which always gets stuck in my head) and the new-to-us "Snow", welcoming the cold season. The band seemed to just feed off the insane energy of the crowd, who were not only going nuts, but throwing stuffed animals on stage (which Zach played with for a song) and lighting sparklers in the audience.
They ended the set with "Marlaina Kamikaze", but were back for the expected encore. Zach called out Aidan and some Friendly Friends, saying they were going to do a cover. As he started saying it was a band that most people would have just heard of, if at all, I perked up and when he said it would be Karkwa, my mind was (visibly) blown. With a trio of drummers, they did "Le Pyromane", and did a damn fine job of it, too. There was one more song to go, the one The Zolas usually end with, "Cab Driver" that brought the set to a powerful ending, with Zach even pulling people up onto stage (some more gracefully than others) for a dance party.

The one thing I have to mention, though, is the sound. It was the first time I had been there, and for the most part, the Anza Club sounded great... but there were a couple times where it seemed to cut out for a brief moment. It seemed to be just for The Zolas, and just at the more intense points, so they might have just been too much for the small venue to handle. During the set, The Zolas mentioned it was probably their last show for a little while, as they were going into "recording mode", and what a way to go.