The Peak Performance Project Finale with Vince Vaccaro, Said The Whale & Kyprios @ Commodore -- 11/18/10

Earlier this year, I asked "Where the hell do they go from here?", about the Peak Performance Project. I though there was no way they could live up to the first year. Well, overall... I think they more than surpassed it. There were more than a few bands that I either discovered, or gained a new appreciation for, after following the second instalment for the last five months. And I certainly do not envy the judges who had to make the final decision. Even though I disagreed with the top five on a few points, they were all fine talents that deserve the money. I hope the bands involved go on to keep doing what they're doing, and I hope The Peak continues to support them, even (or especially) the ones that didn't make the top five.
But on to the show itself. The top three artists -- Vince Vaccaro, Said The Whale and Kyprios -- all had a set to play before the awarding of the monies: $100,500 for first place, $75,000 for second and $50,000 for third.

Opening the show was Vince Vaccaro, as his band slowly filtered on stage, and he came out last, blowing the conch (not a euphemism). I was struck by his energy at his showcase show, and he somehow managed to be even more energetic last night. Though, not to sound like "that guy", but I fully admit I like his older stuff better. It has a bit of an East-Coast-Rocker vibe more than the Surfer-Rock his more recent stuff seems to have, so I was glad when he pulled out "Heart In Hands", his first song I heard, and still my favourite of his. That said, he and his backing band did the songs well, and had most of the crowd hooked, even getting a song-along to the oft-covered "Stand by Me" by Ben E. King (originally). While he may not have been one of my picks for the top three -- or even top five -- with a set like this, I can see why he made it.

The odds-on favourite Said The Whale was up second. Drummer Spencer was the only one suited up, but I might be able to forgive Tyler, since he was wearing Aidan Knight on his shirt (from a Christine McAvoy photograph, if I'm not mistaken). They started off with one of my favourites, "Love Is Art/Sleep Through Fire" before launching into "The City's A Mess", getting everyone clapping along. Like Vince, and Kyprios after them, they seemed to really step up their game and put on possibly one of the better sets I have seen from them. Most of their set was from their previous two records, but they slipped in a sort-of-new song, which they've been playing live for a while. I don't think they've ever named it, so I am going to arbitrarily call it "Information Age" It's called "We Are 1980" and it had a bit more of a synth-y edge to it. That, combined with their "Last Night" song (which they didn't play) makes me interested to hear more new material.
Near the end they called up damn near everyone from their fellow bands for their Peak viral video, "We Are The Music: Musicians for (spare) Change" which had many of the members come to help out on vocals and was a pretty amazing sight. They asked everyone to stay up for their standard closing song, "Goodnight Moon", turning the stage into a full on dance party.

Last, but certainly not least, was Kyprios, looking very dapper. He came out with a single spotlight on him and started beatboxing, for his ten piece band to slowly come in and join him. He took control of the stage immediately, with his Jazz-Hop or Swing-Hop sound with an energy that would be hard to match. His songs were not only insanely catchy, but his backing band, The Chaperones, are a damn hard working band. There were also a few songs that seemed to have an almost narrative, or stream of conscious flow to them, which I really liked. And hopefully I'm not just imagining it. Fellow PeakPP member Greg Sczebel came out and joined him briefly, and he also pulled out his Canadian cover from his Red Room showcase. Starting with a medley of various classic Canadian songs, it culminated with his version of "Sweet City Woman" originally by The Stampeeders. Near the end he passed out lighters, to be lit for a song for lost friends, and he ended the set with the insanely energetic "This Is My Hit".
All day I had been thinking Said The Whale was going to take it, but as soon as he hit the stage, I had a weird feeling that it would, in fact, be Kyprios taking home the oversized novelty cheque. And as his set went on, I became more and more convinced.

And then was the moment that the room (some more than others) had been waiting for, the winners. They announced third place first, which went to Vince Vaccaro, and went right to first place, not as a slight to second, but to give first place a bit more fanfare. And, as I am sure you are already aware of, Said The Whale took second place, and first place went to Kyprios. While I, honestly, would probably not have picked him as my number one, I can not argue that he doesn't deserve it. Especially after seeing his set. The room exploded with applause and confetti, though there were a few boo's, which, come on people. I know you wanted "your" band to win, but it not only makes you look like a jerk, but even makes the band look a little worse, too. Real classy. But that was only a small pocket, and the rest of the crowd was good about it.

It was a great end to an amazing competition, though it will be interesting to see the talent line up for next year. While the first year had a mostly unknown bands, this year had a good amount of bands that were already established. I know there was some criticism for some of those established bands being in the competition, so I'm curious to see if that will happen. Whatever the case, I can not wait to see how it goes, and I hope I can get as involved (if not more so) than I was able to this year. Thank you The Peak and Music BC!

And just for full disclosure, here are my personal picks. I thought Aidan Knight should have won the whole shebang, and my top five favourites were, in no particular order: Knight, Jess Hill, Said The Whale, Christina Maria and Adaline. That said, it was very hard to choose, as at least half of the bands I ended up really liking, and I don't think there wasn't a single one I flat out disliked.