Peak Performance Project Showcase #2 @ Red Room -- 09/15/11

The Peak Performance Project is a multi-year contest in which The Peak, along with Music BC, picks 20 BC musicians/bands a year and makes them stars. The first year was won by We Are The City, and last year, Kyprios, with a ton of great bands and artists included as well.

Part one of the project was a rock & roll boot camp where they went on a week long retreat where industry pros helped them refine their craft. Phase two is a series of shows at The Red Room, four artists a night for five weeks, each playing a 45 minute set. In the last two years, the bands would all have to learn and play a cover of a classic Canadian song, but this year they will all be playing the songs they wrote about Vancouver for the Vancouver125 celebrations. Honestly, I am a bit disappointed about that, because one of my favourite aspects of the showcase series last year was seeing which song they picked and how they interpreted it. But I am sure their Vancouver songs will be great.

First up for the night was Avairis, whose three members took the stage one by one for a song that built up. They were kind of dirty, bluesy rock group and while they played off each other really well, I didn't really get into them that much. I definitely didn't think it was bad by any means, but it wasn't all that great either; it just... was.
They would, however, win if the prize was based off facial hair, and Duff has a really interesting story -- he was once in a plane crash and messed up his right hand, so he decided to switch and learn to play the guitar with his other hand.

Fields of Green was up next, and they were one of the bands that I had not heard much of before, but was intrigued to see live. With a bit of a prog-infused alt-rock sound and a crazy energy, especially the drummer, who was a maniac behind the kit. Though half way through the set they killed all of their momentum when, after trying to get the Red Room silent (which did not work at all) they decided to do a completely unplugged and unamplified song. I can see something like that being killer in a smaller venue with a quieter crowd, but as it turned out, anyone not in the first five rows couldn't hear a thing, and that really hurt. That being said, they did manage to regain some momentum and ended the set with even more energy than they started with. For the most part, I really enjoyed it, and definitely saw potential in the band; they're a little green right now, but given a few years of hard work, they could be huge.

Third up was Acres of Lions, who are one of the repeats from last year's competition. When I saw them a year ago, I thought they were okay; a decently fun band, though nothing much else. But they really impressed me this year with how much they've improved since then. They played a solid set of fun, upbeat rock songs, and had a really good stage presence, really pulling the crowd into it. The best example was mid-set, with their new single, "Reaction", which got everyone clapping and ba baa-ing along, and was sure to get stuck in peoples heads well into the next day.
Plus, any band that has a song about Firefly ("This Was Not My Best Day Ever") is aces in my books.

And rounding out the night was Current Swell. I had heard some of their stuff before the Project started, and I never really cared for them that much, so I had a bit of a bias going into their set. But they were a lot more rocking that I thought they would be, and they had a fantastic energy.
While there were still more songs I couldn't get into than could, there were a couple I really dug. "Cursed", which has a fantastic guitar riff throughout the song, was great live and their Vancouver 125 song, "Granvilletown", was also pretty fun. I enjoyed them a lot more than I thought I would, but (to be honest) I still wasn't really "won over" by them. I would probably see them live again, but likely won't be scrambling to get an album.

Maybe not quite as good as the first week, but still a damn fun show. And, on a side note, pretty much half of the Vancouver music scene was on hand to see the showcase, which is always great seeing all the love and support.
On tap for next week next week, we'll you'll see The Oh Wells, Ashleigh Eymann, Sex With Strangers and The Boom Booms.